Magazine article Security Management

Illuminating Parking Protection: With Attention to Design Elements Such as Lighting, Parking Lots Can Be Both Convenient and Safe

Magazine article Security Management

Illuminating Parking Protection: With Attention to Design Elements Such as Lighting, Parking Lots Can Be Both Convenient and Safe

Article excerpt

Parking lots can be dangerous places. Many are plagued by poor lighting, blind corners, and floor plans that do nothing to prevent cars from speeding. However, if carefully designed with adequate lighting, well-thought-out access controls, and effective CCTV, parking facilities need not be dangerous.

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To achieve this goal, parking areas should address the following elements during the planning stage: traffic patterns, barriers, guard posts, access controls, lighting, CCTV systems, pedestrian safety, vehicle speed, and call stations.

Traffic patterns. When setting up traffic patterns and deciding how many entrances and exits a facility will need, designers should consider the location and purpose of the lot and whether the parking facility is controlled or not. They should also calculate the number of anticipated vehicles during both peak and nonpeak hours. The design should include sufficient entry and exit points to accommodate traffic at peak times without resulting in a backup. The designers should also consider the internal traffic patterns when deciding where to locate entrances and exits.

In some cases, designers will have to adapt to limitations at a given site. For example, at a lot located in a historic urban environment, it may not be possible to add the necessary additional entry and exit points. The solution is to allow entries and exits by the same gates. During times when entries are higher, such as at the beginning of the workday, some exits can be converted to entrances. The reverse can happen at the end of the day to accommodate greater demand for egress.

In a controlled parking environment, it is important to keep the entry and exit points to a minimum to reduce initial equipment cost and recurring expenditures for guard services. Of course, users always prefer to have more entry and exit options. Designers must balance the desire for convenience with cost and security considerations.

In one recent project, the design team's task was to provide ram protection around the perimeter of the parking areas, as well as card access control to allow employees to enter through the gate. Hydraulically operated bollards were used in addition to the existing sliding gates to provide this protection.

The parking lot was located directly off the street, adjacent to the sidewalk, which was separated from the lot by an existing wrought-iron fence. The entrances were also used as exits, due to the limited openings, and reader pedestals could not be used because of the proximity of the sidewalk and street.

The design implemented long-range RF card readers (similar to those used on toll roads) connected to the access control system. The access control tags were attached to the employees' windshields allowing the system to identify an approaching vehicle as soon as it turned towards the gate from the street.

Once the cardholder was granted access, the hydraulic bollards retracted in sync with the sliding gates, allowing the vehicle to pass. The entire entry sequence took each user less than 15 seconds. After the vehicle cleared the gates, the entrance automatically reset, and the sequence was repeated with the next entry.

Programmable logic controllers and traffic lights were used to prevent an entry from interfering with an exit. Once an entry sequence started, no exit sequence could occur until the entry was complete, with the same being true for exiting.

The obvious disadvantage to this type of solution is that it does not allow a high rate of traffic to pass through. It also requires thorough training of the users. However, it is a good example of how technology can be used in conjunction with physical security to provide convenience for the user and security for the facility.

Barriers. Designers need to facilitate the smooth entry of authorized vehicles and ensure that unauthorized vehicles, especially those speeding, cannot enter or use brute force to cause damage. …

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