Leverage your existing security system to follow COVID-19 guidelines

By Dominic Burns

With winter on its way across much of North America, many companies are re-evaluating their security and safety protocols as they strive to maintain business operations during the cold and flu season, a time of the year now further complicated due to COVID-19.

For the past nine months, security directors have been working diligently to develop return to work plans for office buildings that support social distancing and measures to prevent the spread of germs. Part of that plan has included identifying ways to leverage existing security solutions to support a safer work environment. However, how could that plan look now, especially as the number of COVID-19 cases are increasing? Here are a few considerations:

Link screening protocols with access control

Many corporate offices already have an access control system in place, but these systems were originally configured to grant access after a card holder followed a single or two-factor identification process, such as presenting a credential installed on the users phone to a frictionless Bluetooth enabled card reader.

Consider the installation of facial recognition technology which incorporates facial recognition, mask detection, and elevated temperature. With the addition of this technology the user no longer has to “touch” a card reader. After the screening process, if all of the criteria have been met then the system user is granted access.

Another idea includes having an employee complete a prescreening document before being permitted access. The prescreening document can be integrated with the access control system, and if the employee meets all of the company’s COVID-19 safety protocols then access would be granted. Some access control systems with a built-in touchscreen interface for users can present a series of questions to the card holder before allowing them to enter an area. This functionality can be used to ask questions such as does the individual have a cough, have they traveled outside a pre-defined area or been in contact with anyone recently who tested positive for COVID-19.

Access control systems can also help manage occupancy limitations in specific areas. For example, a business which requires employees to present an access control credential when entering a specific workspace could also require the person to present a badge again upon leaving. The system can be configured to keep a running tally of those who have swiped into a space and to deny entry if that area has reached capacity – such as a lunch room or mailroom.

Surveillance systems monitor mask detection, occupancy levels

Surveillance systems are another existing tool a business can leverage as part of their security and safety plan relating to COVID-19.

As part of the process to monitor each visitor, consider using your existing surveillance system to check whether an employee or visitor is wearing a mask. A simple visual verification, using remote monitoring capabilities, can help ensure that staff and visitors are following guidelines requiring wearing a mask upon entering a space.

There are several recently introduced surveillance technologies that can automate the mask detection function. These systems have the ability to flag an individual who is not wearing a mask, enabling the proper steps to be taken, such as notification to security. Some of these solutions are available through a simple software upgrade to an existing video management system, for example.

Up until now, people counting technology was mainly used by retailers who wanted to ensure their store was properly staffed during peak times or to identify high traffic areas, such as popular displays. This same technology can be leveraged to help a retail store, gym or restaurant ensure they do not exceed maximum occupancy numbers.

A majority of companies today have already invested in a myriad of security solutions. With a few adjustments, these systems that were primarily used to detect an intruder or identify a shoplifter can now be leveraged to help businesses safely reopen and stay open.