Buildings Buzz

For Parking Security – Speed Things Up

Though parking garages provide convenience for building complexes, they also have a bad reputation. Their poorly lit stairwells, ample places to hide between cars, and low level of foot traffic make them ideal places for muggings and assaults. These conditions create a downside to the idea that attached parking is an amenity for a complex, especially an upscale development that needs to offer building access in suburban/rural areas to provide shelter from rough weather and proximity to the entrance.

Parking garage management and security experts are well aware of the issue and have gone on the offensive by installing brighter lighting and clearly visible closed circuit security cameras, along with deploying foot patrols. However, the most effective security measures for parking structures are designed to physically prevent potential perpetrators from committing crimes.

The focus for parking structure security comes down to the traffic doorway. Granted, the facility’s use determines the kind of access.

Take public parking. For most public parking garages, the facility has to be available to everyone; these buildings make use of barrier gates to enable access, which lets drivers in who have either the money or a validated parking ticket. These gates, however, are no barrier for someone who wishes to walk into the facility, as many of us have often done.

Parking structures that strictly control access into the facility protect the traffic door using solid-panel doors or metal grates. These structures can be standalone facilities or attached to a building where security is a concern, such as a high-end residential complex, college dormitory, or office building.

A door that operates slowly could be a security problem due specifically to the issue of piggybacking.

Complexes with secured parking garages are fighting back – with speed.

Standard parking garage doors and roll-up grilles creep open at about 12 inches per second and close just as slowly. For a ten-foot-high doorway and factoring in hold-open time, that gives an intruder enough time to afford a window of larcenous opportunity.

At facilities with high-speed, solid slat-panel roll-up doors running at 60 inches a second, it’s a different story. On its way down, the door’s bottom edge meets the threshold concrete in less that two seconds. That’s not enough time for the next car or intruder to even think about making a move.

Bear in mind that these doors are outfitted with sophisticated safety systems to prevent closing on people or objects in the doorway. But most intruders, who generally attempt entering parking garages on impulse, are unlikely to risk injury coming up against what they think is an unstoppable heavy metal panel.

As with most crime, if you can get a criminal to move on to another location or just drop the idea of committing the crime in the first place, you have protected your location.

Building managers do have other high-speed door styles to choose from. Robert Tullis, Vice-President-Director of Design for GID Development, points out that their projects use fabric curtain doors to separate residential parking spaces from those for other uses.

Though these doors do not offer the same protection that metal doors do in unoccupied places, Tullis attributes the availability of adequate security to a combination of high-speed doors and the abundance of CATV cameras bolstered by an alert security staff. These fabric curtain door panels are made of tough plastic material. It would take an intruder more time than is generally available to cut through it. In addition, these doors are even faster, at about 125 inches a second, closing in just a blink.

The benefits of high speed go beyond rapid operation. Users report that time-starved tenants appreciate door speed that gets them into and out of the parking garage quickly and prevents the irritation that comes from lines forming at the doorway.

Along with protecting the building, high-speed operation also enables the doors to protect themselves. Those same hurried drivers often try to race through the doorway before it is fully accessible, resulting in damage to the doors—and their cars. High-speed doors are too fast for cars to hit, resulting in lower maintenance costs and happier tenants.

The bottom line is this. A parking garage that wants to be a crime stopper must stop crime at the doorway.

Michael Watkins is the VP of Marketing at www.rytecdoors.com.

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