Managing operational, architectural and technological access controls was a challenge before the COVID-19 pandemic. Health controls such as social distancing, temperature screening and PPE checks have added an entirely new element to maintaining proper access controls in office buildings. Listen to our latest podcast with security expert, John Friedlander, as he discusses how to ensure health management programs are deployed effectively.

 
Passages from the Episode

Office Building Health Screening

“Managing access control of persons into a high rise building always has its own list of difficulties and with the proper operational architectural and technological controls, has widely been managed to a great effect in the modern office building. The addition to these new health controls like health screening at the building's entrance, social distancing, PPE checks, etc. will simply be a new aspect of this management process. What do you see are some of the prime challenges for the typical office building in maintaining proper access control in this new environment?” – Jeff Kernohan

“We see a few challenges and the overriding fact is that COVID-19 is not going to be receding to a great extent for some time. It's predictable that we'll have employees, vendors, contractors, visitors arriving in office building lobbies, wearing masks or other face coverings. We will face challenges for facial verification as well as the need to conduct health checks.” – John Friedlander

“We have people coming in with a mask, they're queuing up, they're trying to get in for their health check before they can come into the building. What we're seeing a lot of our clients face is, who's going to do those health checks? A lot of buildings are not offering that because they don't want to be the ones that tell your CEO that they cannot come into their office because they have a temperature of a 100.5. Some people think the security officers are going to do that, but that's really not what they're there for.” – Jeff Kernohan

“Determining how you're going to manage your health screening, where are you going to manage it? We want it to be as far away from the interior of the building as possible. We can turn people around without contaminating the area. Most people have not really figured out, to a great extent, how they're going to manage this.” – Jeff Kernohan

“These challenges are considerable, especially depending on environment. Urban center, high-rise is far more challenging than a suburban or ex-urban campus setting where you might have more room. One of the other challenges will be climate. This is far easier to manage in April, May, June, than January, February, March, if you can find space outside that could host the health screening process. Perhaps as people are leaving the parking area and approaching the building, there could be a process station there to conduct the temperature checks. There's also the thought of using areas right outside of freight or side entrance that allow incoming flow to the building from designated entrances so that you can leave the main entrance for exit only, or for fire egress in the event of an emergency.” – John Friedlander

“There is the thought that the individuals conducting the health check could be behind a transparent barrier that gives them and the incoming person a measure of protection. There are challenges, particularly if it's a windy day or a particularly cold day. There are some options—the other piece is to position the health checker inside a vehicle, so they could have some measure of distance and also perhaps be somewhat mobile in front of the building. It's going to be a process of trial and error and very contingent on the type of building and the type of workforce in question.” – John Friedlander

“We have seen a lot of people trying to migrate to the high-tech option. A lot of them think that, I put in this camera and a red X shows up when people can't come in and they turn around and walk away and I can just leave the lobby and let them manage it themselves, are finding that that is not the case. We need to have oversight of the system, we need to have management. You'll find everything from someone happened to have a pair of sunglasses on their head that got too hot in the sun and it's setting off an alarm, to someone that comes in that people coming in from their cars, measuring almost hypothermia in their temperature because they just came in from a very cold car. There's still oversight, there's still management in how you're going to interface with those people. How are you going to use the technology is going to play a large role in how successful you're going to be.” – Jeff Kernohan

“When we look at some of that technology, it does some fantastic things, but what we really have to make sure that the clients are understanding is, when they're doing these temperature checks, whether they're using a handheld thermometer to someone's forehead, or they're using the latest and greatest camera technology to determine temperatures, there's still going to be some level of taking someone's information.” – Jeff Kernohan

“Many states are going to require that they do allow people to know this when they come in, that there's going to be a sign that we are taking, in some states and in regions, medical information from you. That might be a little bit different than what most people are planning to do when they started to implement this whole screening program in their lobbies. One of the things that we've seen as an issue is, when we have a lot of people that have gone to technology to look at the facial recognition when they come in, going through turnstiles to verify that the person with the card it's the right person. When you add a mask to that situation, obviously things change a bit.” – Jeff Kernohan

Face Mask Security Challenges

“Just because I have a valid access credential doesn't mean I'm the person authorized to use that credential. I could have Fred's card, either by mistake or by criminal behavior and be admitted without being able to verify that I'm Fred on camera.” – John Friedlander

“One of the suggestions we have is to build in facial verification as part of the temperature check process—from a safe distance or from behind a transparent barrier that the individual, while their temperature is being verified, either lowers or very briefly removes their face covering to match to either their access credential or government issued ID. Face checks can be done prior to them entering the building, on their way to a designated entrance or within the lobby, as long as it's done within the safe practice mode.” – John Friedlander

Challenges with Temperature Checks

“There is also a point to be made that just because someone has a temperature doesn't mean they have COVID-19. Arizona in July, it's likely a person's underlying temperature might be quite higher just from the walk from their parking area to the entrance of the building.” – John Friedlander

“The opposite can be said where people say they don't have a temperature, we'll let them come in. We're pretty much done with our health screening. That's obviously not the case. We have a lot of people that don't have temperatures that are still problematic, have COVID-19 and are able to spread this. It's a multi-layer process. We're talking about what you're going to do in your lobby when you have your access control system and how it's going to implement with health screening. There's a lot of things that need to go into your overall health screening for your office.” – Jeff Kernohan

COVID-19 Trace Controls

“The one thing that's going to be of paramount importance is the ability to do a trace control. If we're sending someone away because they had the red X on the camera screen because they were higher temperature and we're sending them home. What are we going to do about all the other people that they've been in contact with? Have they been too close together in a line? Have they been at the Starbucks in the lobby for a while before they decided to go through screening, sitting at a table with three other people that are now in my building? These are the kinds of things that buildings with large lobbies and large populations are really trying to figure out.” – Jeff Kernohan

“Another issue that we've seen in helping some of the mission, essential businesses, mission critical businesses operate is they have a lot of temporary employees. There's a lot of times where they might not know 90% of the people coming in. When they are looking at their face, asking them to lift up their face mask, to see that this is a proper person here, it might not be much of a benefit. They're having to have three or four people stand in the lobby to say, ‘Yes, that's my temporary employee. I recognize that person.’ Then we have all these people gathered together which is also creating increased risk.” – Jeff Kernohan

Takeaways

“There's a lot of things that have to go into your plan and you have to plan it to your particular space. There are some things that you're definitely going to have to tackle, which we've covered. When it really comes down to it, what we're looking at is how you can safely monitor people coming into your facility from both a security access control aspect and also from a health screening aspect. That's where a lot of people are going to be much more heavily involved in doing that, when more and more businesses come back to the office place.” – Jeff Kernohan

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