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The low down on lockdown

Author : Chris Edwards of CIE

05 April 2018

The various responsibilities of facilities managers include ensuring security systems and procedures are in place to ensure the safety of all personnel in a workplace.

While it is uncomfortable to contemplate, it is an undeniable fact there is an increasing threat of attacks on public buildings and workplaces where people would normally feel safe.

This has led to an increased need for security measures that include efficient procedures and systems that are designed to protect everyone in a building and reduce the risk of danger.

A lockdown procedure and a custom-designed lockdown system can significantly reduce risk levels and can be tailored to suit the requirements of an individual organisation.

There are several main aims in having a lockdown procedure. The priority, for obvious reasons, is to move staff away from a threat, while at the same time isolating the threat to a single area.

Once that is accomplished it is also important to be able to accurately record which staff are in each room, and quickly be able to identify if anybody is missing or unaccounted for. Following that, an efficient evacuation procedure should also be in place.

Procedure or System?

Understanding the distinction between a lockdown procedure and a lockdown system - and how the two should be designed to work in harmony - is key to providing the most effective and cohesive overall solution for a customer.

A lockdown procedure is a plan of action to be used in the event of an incident, and to be effective, various elements need to be considered when putting a plan together. Firstly, and perhaps the most important is how to achieve full (or partial) lockdown of the premises.

This will involve identifying all the access points and egress points and the best way to secure them, whether using locks, access control systems, doors bars and even furniture.

It may be that the site needs to be split into zones which can allow specific areas to be locked down in isolation.

Once this task is accomplished then it is vital that staff are trained in how the lock down will operate should it be called into action. A lockdown system can employ a wide variety of resources and technologies to greatly improve the communication and access control measures in place.

The fundamental components of a lockdown system can be categorised into two main groups - communication and access control:

• A communication system is designed to provide the most effective, clear information to staff, visitors for example, both at the instigation and throughout a lockdown procedure.

• An access control system is intended to provide the most secure environment for staff and visitors and to inhibit the access/egress of any attackers.

A standard distributed audio (public address) system is perhaps the simplest solution to provide building-wide, clear communication to all staff and visitors.

It delivers an immediate audible warning of lockdown procedure being activated as well as an easy method for verbal or automated updates to follow throughout the building or campus, as any situation either develops or is resolved.

This is a basic, easy to implement solution that when combined with a clear and simple lockdown procedure can be an effective solution for many smaller organisations.

The next step is what we call a ‘hybrid’ network audio system. A hybrid audio system utilises 100v line audio (the standard communication protocol for PA systems) together with the latest network audio technology.

Such a system can be used to combine an existing PA infrastructure with a networked building management software system.

Going down this route offers increased functionality with a wide range of features that can be customised to meet any organisation’s preferences, as well as system scalability to ensure that the system can be integrated with an existing infrastructure, as well as updated and expanded as needs change.

The most comprehensive option that incorporates all the above is what we call a dynamic lockdown system. This type of system uses a standard network infrastructure to connect devices into a fully integrated system.

The devices might include a PA system, door entry and intercom, an IP telephone system, as well as CCTV cameras.

At this level, the system will offer across the board functionality that gives peace of mind that comes from a well thought through security strategy and system.

Perhaps the most important point when commissioning a lockdown system or procedure is to remember that ‘one size does not fit all’ and every project is unique.

It is always recommended to carry out a detailed site survey of and evaluate existing communication or security systems and other resources already in place, to identify if they can be utilised as part of a new system.

Solutions should always be scalable, based on size of building, individual lockdown procedure, risk factors and budget and will draw from the full range of technologies available to achieve the most effective and cohesive solution to meet the project requirements.

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