How a Fire Alarm Zone Plan Will Make Your Campus A Safer Place

Fire Wallpaper

In 2004, there was a devastating fire at Rosepark Care Home in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire. It broke out in a cupboard and proceeded to rip through the building. The fire took the lives of four elderly residents and left the community in shock.

The fatal accident inquiry (FAI) began in February 2010 and finished taking evidence in August. The sheriff who gave his findings after the 141-day probe said: “some or all” of the deaths were preventable. If only the home had a “suitable and sufficient” fire safety plan in place. He believed that the management of fire safety at Rosepark was seriously defective.

Another, more recent example was the Grenfell Tower disaster of 2017. A fire broke out at 1:00 am in the kitchen of a fourth-floor flat at the 23-story tower block in North Kensington, West London. Within minutes, the fire had raced up the exterior of the building and spread to all four sides. By 3:00 am, most of the upper floors were alight. Seventy-two people died. The recent Grenfell inquiry has revealed negligence in a number of areas, all of which combined to hinder rescue and escape attempts, and exacerbated the disaster.

Even with these high profile stories, there may still be campus heads that are unaware of the importance of Fire Alarm Zone Plans.

What is a Fire Alarm Zone Plan?

A Fire Alarm Zone Plan shows the layout of the building. And, should clearly highlight the separate fire alarm zones to help evacuations in an emergency situation.

The plan should also include:

  • Building levels
  • Escape routes and final exits (exits that open out into a place of safety, such as the car park or school field)
  • Circulation areas (corridors, stairs, lifts etc)
  • A “You are Here” sign so that visitors and employees can map out their exit route

It is critical that your Fire Alarm Zone Plan corresponds to the orientation of the building. For instance, if there is a fire exit door to your immediate right, it should also be to the immediate right of the “you are here” sign on the plan.

Most importantly, the plan needs to be quick, easy and clear for all staff and visitors to understand in order to effectively evacuate in the case of a fire safety drill, or a real fire emergency.

Does my Campus Really Need a Fire Alarm Zone Plan?

Every campus, no matter how small or large needs a suitable Fire Alarm Zone Plan. The type of strategy depends on the nature of operations, the size of the building, and occupancy characteristics. A fire safety strategy is a changeable document structured around the operations of a suitably managed building.

In addition to aiding the evacuation of staff and visitors in a fire, a  Fire Alarm Zone Plan helps the emergency services to quickly identify the origin of the alarm, and therefore where the fire started and the direction it’s most likely to spread. This information is absolutely critical in a fire.

Case in Point

The victims of the Rosepark Care Home are a real example of what can happen if you neglect these small fire safety details. Zone plans could have helped some of the victims escaped the fire in the complex building layout, though there were other factors that contributed to the deaths:

  1. Staff waited 9 minutes after the alarm first sounded to contact the Fire Brigade
  2. Fire dampers in the ducting were never installed
  3. The self-closers on all bedroom doors had been disabled
  4. The bedroom doors had all been wedged open – allowing in the smoke and gases that directly killed some of the residents.

Ways to Improve Your Access Control System

You might think an Access Control System is something you only need if you have quite large premises. But actually, access control is for absolutely any campus that wants to improve overall safety and security. Access control systems range from simple stand-alone systems like a keypad on a door, to complex networked systems that use a variety of security technologies.

Some access control systems can provide information and reports very quickly which can be beneficial In an emergency situation. For example, it’s incredibly beneficial to rapidly generate a roll-call of everyone who is currently inside the building during evacuation. An Access Control System can also help firefighters to understand a building’s layout and thus control the spread of the fire. After an incident, the system can also provide data that can assist with the investigation.

The Responsible Person Must Understand Their Role

Sheriff Principal Brian Lockhart, who investigated the Rosepark Fire, said: “The management of fire safety at Rosepark was systematically and seriously defective. The deficiencies in the management of fire safety at Rosepark contributed to the deaths…Management did not have a proper appreciation of its role and responsibilities in relation to issues of fire safety“.

To avoid a disaster like this, a campus head needs to check that fire safety precautions are in place. A fire risk assessment needs to be correctly carried out. And you must optimize your access control system for such an emergency. By not having a proper plan in place, campuses, and the people they employ, are at great risk. 

Ways to Improve Your Access Control System

Brown Padlock

Access control’ is something security firms use around the globe in order to mitigate potential security risks. Particularly risk of theft. In terms of IT, access control is about regulating who has the ability to view a particular set of resources. 

For example, access control can restrict the ability of lower-level employees to view electronic company documentation that only management should be able to view. 

An access control system consists of measures put in place. They can be either physical or digital and they restrict access to certain areas or to certain information.

Stratistics MRC reported that the global video surveillance market is set to reach US$63.2 billion by 2022. While IHS Markit’s statistics show an almost 50% growth in the presence of video surveillance cameras in the United States between 2012 and 2016. 

These types of cameras are a fundamental cog in the access control market. They provide the means for users to monitor who is accessing what in your organization. Without the need for physically manned access points. 

However, the access control system that you use is only as good as the information that you feed it. Because, at the end of the day, it’s just a computer that cannot perform any logical reasoning on its own. Thus, it relies on your input to teach it how to correctly monitor your environment.

There are certain methods that you can adopt in order to ensure that your access control system performs its job correctly, helping to keep your environment free of threats.

Keep your Access Control Technology Updated

As previously discussed, your access control system is ultimately a computer. A computer runs optimally with regular updates and works according to the latest versions of the software that it uses.

The same principle applies to your video surveillance equipment. In order for it to run properly, you need to ensure that you download the latest versions of the software. The reason manufacturers release periodic updates is to fix problems that other users have raised with the software. So, although you may not have experienced the problem yourself, chances are that you may experience them in the future, should you not keep your software up to date.

In addition to updating your software, you also need to update your physical access control devices. Especially the servers that you store your data on. Don’t think, however, that you need to spend thousands of dollars on new servers for your office. With cloud technology, your servers can be located remotely. This means that you don’t have to incur the cost of the physical hardware, but you still have the benefit of immediate access to the data.

Always be Testing Your System

In order to keep your access control system up to date, you need to constantly be testing it to see where the possible flaws are. Once you know where the minor issues lie, you can fix them before they turn into serious problems. You don’t want someone else to discover a weakness in your system. They can exploit it and cost your campus millions in loss and damage.

Keep an Eye on Who has Access to Your Campus

In an organization, employees come and go. Sometimes their departure is amicable, but at other times, it is less than friendly. This means that you need to strictly monitor who is able to access your campus and your organizational information. This prevents them from using it and taking it to your competitors when they leave.

On the day that employees leave your campus, have them fill out an employee exit checklist with them. This checklist should include details about what property they have and what they need to give back. Including any smart devices that the school may have given them. This helps to ensure that nothing is forgotten and that no assets or data is put at risk.

If an employee is facing disciplinary action, and continued access to your premises could allow the employee to gain an unfair advantage in the proceedings, rather remove their access to the premises, pending the matter being heard. This is especially true in the case of an employee in a management position, as he or she may have access to sensitive information that – should the employee feel wronged – they could take and sell it to a competitor. If you deny an employee access to premises pending such action, those manning the access control points must also be aware of the situation so that they do grant the employee access manually.

Access Control for Your Campus

Access control systems on your campus are vital to ensuring the safety of both your staff and your assets. 

Depending on the size of your campus, and the value of the assets stored there, there might be no need to spend thousands on instituting high-end access control, when solutions that suit your pocket already exist. Video surveillance, for instance, is a great way of monitoring the people who come into your campus.

Access control systems are a must in your campus because they help to ensure the safety and security of your campus, campus assets, and information.

2K vs 4K Security Cameras

In the security industry, you can judge security cameras in a number of different ways. Speed, costs, and capabilities are a few, but the leading point of reference is the resolution specs. Resolution is simply a way to measure the size of the video or the image. Smaller images produce lower resolution video, while larger images produce HD or high definition video. 

And, when choosing what one would call a decent security system, it’s important to know what the resolution specs are. It’s also good to see whether they meet your needs in regards to large areas vs smaller offices. 

Security camera resolutions are getting better every year. Although the accepted standard for most security cameras has been 1080p resolution, more companies in the surveillance industry are offering 2K and 4K video resolutions. 

In order to get a better idea of what all of this means, and in turn make better choices, one needs to take a look into each type:

Selective Focus Photography of Cat Above White Security Camera

Breaking It Down – Standard Resolutions VS Newer Advanced Models 

As a general rule of thumb, the higher the resolution, the better the overall quality of the image. Because of this, camera types have steadily been getting better and better. And the two leaders in this industry at the moment are 2K and 4K camera systems.

2K Super HD Security Cameras

Going beyond the conventional 1080p resolutions, 2K security cameras provide a video resolution of 2560×1440 with a 4 megapixel (MP) image sensor. In comparison to today’s competitive security camera industry, these super cameras deliver much clearer and sharper images. They also come with better quality videos than 1080p and 720p security cameras.

Another important point is that 2K HD cameras tend to offer a wider field of range. This makes them the preferred choice for larger areas.

4K Super HD Security Cameras

By comparison, 4K security cameras offer superior image quality over their older 2K competitors. With a higher resolution of 3840×2160 and at 8 megapixels, these cameras are currently at the very high end of surveillance video quality, also going one up on 2K they can sufficiently capture a much larger area.  However, this being said, 4K security cameras tend to require more bandwidth, and storing their footage requires more space than with 2K cameras.

A Time And Place For Everything – When to Choose Your K Series Security Camera And Why

Deciding which security system will best suit you can be as beneficial as the system itself. As theft and threat can sometimes be circumstantial, one should always try and take it into consideration. 

Some important things to keep in mind when choosing your k series system include:

2K Security Cameras

  • If you are in need of high-quality images with clear details from a distance.
  • When your place of work has been evaluated and 1440p resolution is enough for your video surveillance needs.
  • When you cannot currently afford to spend the extra money on high-end 4K cameras but still want great image quality.

These systems are best used in entrances, walkways, and small campuses. 

4K Security Cameras

  • If you need to capture surveillance footage of the highest possible quality e.g in banks and jewelry stores.
  • When you have the budget for quality cameras and recorders with sufficient storage.
  • If you need to monitor large areas with a single camera. 
  • When you need a future-proof video surveillance system you can invest in. 

4K security cameras are perfect for small, medium, and large businesses including warehouses, parking lots, driveways, multi-tenant buildings, retail stores, hotels, restaurants, and large campuses.

Putting Your Peace of mind Back Into Security With High-Quality Security Systems 

Being Security Wise and safeguarding your workplace and assets is not just about shelling out the cash in the name of reputation. There are numerous aspects that go into a well-protected establishment. Security camera systems have been a long-standing tool and a crucial point when designing or choosing the best security measures needed. 

Unfortunately, there are many salesmen out there that will try to convince you that price conveys quality but this is not always the case. Yes, leading systems and top of the range technologies can be pricey but that is the very reason one needs to choose carefully and do their homework when choosing their very own system or upgrading an existing one.  

Whether your campus will benefit more from 2K or 4K cameras comes down to what your specific needs and budget are, but whatever you choose be savvy, be smart, and be safe!

Security Camera System Maintenance

white wooden door near gray security camera

Like the eyes and ears of an office building, these little helpers reaffirm safety within a corporation. A security camera system has become a fundamental security feature within the workplace. They provide the confirmation that someone is monitoring things on a constant basis.

While the initial efforts involved in installation might be at the forefront of one’s mind, this is usually where that attention to detail ends. With every new model on the market, expectations rise and hardware lasts longer. When done correctly, your security system can be an investment into your safety, lasting years into the future.

This being said, at the end of the day, your security cameras are functioning pieces of machinery. They need maintenance on a regular basis and even upgraded at certain points.

Like the computers that you work on and the servers that enrich your work, even security systems need looking after if one expects them to function at full capacity.

Pitfalls of not Upgrading Your Campus Security System

Like any other type of system or machinery, a security camera system comprises of key components that work together to provide that sense of safety we all enjoy. Getting a closer look into each one of these aspects and how they impact your daily lives is crucial when looking for a firm handle on things. Especially with regards to the costs that can arise if you don’t maintain them properly.

Increased Costs

Let’s be honest, keeping costs low is the goal for many campus heads. Initial installations can come with a hefty bill that, in some cases, can be a hassle to deal with. This is the leading reason behind lack of maintenance and upgrades. As initial setup often costs quite a bit, many people tend to believe that reducing system improvements can reduce costs. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and just because you received a system in perfect working order does not mean it will stay that way. 

Exposure to the elements, unforeseen damages, lack of planning, and outdated software can all lead to malfunctioning cameras and system down-times. For companies that use a lot of cameras, these sudden and somewhat risky outages can quickly add up. And, for smaller companies that use smaller systems, even losing one camera can mean the loss of a large amount of security camera coverage. You might think you can save costs by not maintaining your systems, but should something happen that requires a full system, you’ll soon find yourself paying more than you anticipated. 

Outdated and Redundant Image Quality 

Regardless of the security camera system you choose for your campus, never forget that their main objective is to capture electronic evidence in the form of pictures and video. What might have been acceptable image quality when camera systems first came out will not necessarily serve your purposes today. 

Older, more outdated camera systems are infamous for producing terrible, grey, and blurry images in low lighting conditions. These images result in little to no detail being present. They are also well-known for being so low quality that zooming in on any image will result in it being even more unintelligible. This is mostly due to the fact that old analog security cameras function by sending video signals to the provided digital video recorder (DVR). The DVR then processes the signal and records it, resulting in a lower frame rate and limited resolution. There is a saying that states, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. This is unfortunately not the case when it comes to security cameras. Facts are facts. In order to stay ahead of the curve, your system will need to upgrade from time to time.

Fewer Options and Capabilities 

One of the main benefits of having a campus security system is convenience. And, when it comes to choosing one, you get what you pay for. When choosing not to upgrade, there are numerous benefits that can be lost to those using old and outdated models. 

As newer, more capable models come to market, their users enjoy functions including remote access, motion detection, and easy integration with access control systems and alarms. And, as a campus head, should disaster strike while you are nowhere near the office, simply logging in on your smartphone or tablet could mean the difference between minor and major losses. 

Inferior Storage Abilities

Contrary to popular belief, DVRs that record, process, and store the footage from older analog cameras are not actually capable of handling very much data. Like many other things in life, camera footage has improved, with file sizes becoming larger. Analog data is represented in a continuous form, as opposed to digital data which has discrete values. It is very difficult to remove noise and wave distortions during the transmissions. For this reason, analog signals cannot perform high-quality data transmission. Therefore, requiring large amounts of storage space as well as being very taxing on any resources currently in place.

Enhance Tomorrow Through an Upgraded Security Camera System Today 

It is a fact that running a campus can be costly, and with more responsibilities come more risks. One cannot just spend frivolously. But true wisdom is being able to discern where to cut the costs and where doing so will actually be a disadvantage. In many ways, your security camera systems are a barrier – protecting you from loss and devastation. And in turn, should be valued and maintained accordingly.  

So the next time that check-up comes due, don’t shy away in the name of a few pennies saved. Instead, embrace the opportunity to make your already strong system even better.

Access Control Security Systems for Your Campus

On a daily basis, people all over the world spend a decent amount of their time opening and locking doors. It is happening constantly – even while you read this. Locks are the first things to consider when discussing access control security systems.

Among the more advanced safety measures now available, access control is swiftly becoming one of the smartest and most adaptable. With capabilities ranging from retinal scanning and facial recognition to malware and virus protection, more and more companies are choosing to protect their campuses with access control. We’ve all gone through a door that requires a form of identification in order to open it, be it fingerprint scanning at the bank or keycards in your office building – these types of entrances and exits are becoming more and more common. 

But how do they actually work? 

Not many people take the time to figure that out. It works, and as long as they grant you access, it doesn’t really matter. Gaining a better understanding of how something actually works can be useful, though, enabling you to make better decisions.

Door Access Control Security Systems – How They Work 

Not too long ago, everyone considered a well-made lock sufficient for keeping our valuables and assets safe. But in the days since, the world has progressed and changed, sped up and become more complex. Technology is at the forefront of that change. While it has assisted potential villains in creating higher forms of theft and threat, it has also adapted to provide more effective campus security systems.

Access control is a form of security that identifies specific individuals, authenticates them, and gives them access to the door or workstation that they need access to. Within the door security sector, there are pieces of hardware that work together in order to provide the accessibility or lack thereof that these systems use to function. 

These pieces of hardware include: 

  • Security or key fob cards
  • Fingerprint or biometric scanners
  • Door readers 
  • Physical locking mechanisms
  • In newer versions of access control: smartphones

Security Cards

There are several basic versions of security cards most companies like to use. They come in various sizes and are customizable for your needs. These cards come with barcodes or RFID chips that have a specific identity or serial number embedded into them that is read and used by door readers. 

Fingerprint Scanners 

Like security cards, biometric scanners use criteria to provide specific people access through an entryway. But instead of using a physical key, they use a biological identifier such as a fingerprint or retinal scan.

Door Readers

Door readers are the physical pieces of hardware on the door that read the credential (like a key card, fingerprint, etc.) to deactivate the lock.  They are powered by their own data cables, even when WiFi enabled. In newer models, they are capable of connecting directly to a company’s network and holding the identification codes for all the people assigned to the system. They can work even if the organization’s network is down and the central management software is unavailable.

Smartphone Capabilities 

Even though this function is more modern, it works in a similar fashion to security cards, with a reader installed at a company’s entrances. Users have to download an app on their phone which will be programmed with the appropriate permissions for that specific user.

Access Control Security Systems – Fitting It All Together    

When a person approaches a controlled access door and presents their form of identification (e.g. their security card), there are things that happen in the few seconds it takes for the light to turn green and the lock to disengage. 

The RFID door readers use specific credentials that have embedded circuits and an antenna within the system. The process starts when the reader broadcasts a signal that the credential antenna then receives. This broadcasted electrical signal from the door reader contains enough power to energize the circuit in the credential. Once the electric circuit in the credential receives the power it needs, this is then sent back to the access control reader that includes the required identification (ID) number. 

In terms of fingerprint scanners, the sensor is connected to an integrator. This is an electrical circuit built around an inverting operational amplifier. The inverting amplifier used in these systems is a complex semiconductor device, made up of a number of transistors, resistors, and capacitors. 

Lastly, the smartphone app;  the major variants of smartphone access control system include IP systems, control panel systems, and mobile access credentials. After downloading the app, the reader can recognize each user according to their credentials and allow them access where applicable. 

Door Access Control Installation Specifications 

Before deciding to make use of door access control security systems, there are certain questions concerning the access control installation that every campus head should answer first:

The purpose of installing an access control system should be clear. It is based on the security level that a particular company might require for their installation. 

System Type
This is a very important factor of access control installation. The user should have a complete assessment of the system so that he/she can achieve the objectives they are looking for.

Authentication Type
A company owner needs to ensure they select the most powerful and most suitable types of authentication for their specific system. This includes biometric, key fobs, electromagnetic cards, keypads, touch screens, or in some cases, a combination.

Cost is always a very critical component to consider when it comes to selecting good security systems that include installation. You should not invest more in securing less valuable assets and should not invest less for high-value assets.

Door access control systems are always a fantastic addition to any campus security system, and moving forward it could be your best choice when wanting to secure your establishment.

Controlling Your Company’s Future with Access Control Security Systems

It is normal for campus heads to have worries and stress over the well-being of their company and employees. The world is constantly changing and new threats crop up when we least expect them. 

However, this does not need to be the ruling thought on your mind. Security is always evolving and has become stronger and far more effective – especially when used right. Door access control systems were created for this very reason. Unfortunately, we can’t be in all places all at once. The variables are just something we all have to work with. 

Access control provides peace of mind. Your world can change, as can the faces you see every day. But when using an effective door access control security system, you can still have the control you need over what matters most.