SECURITY in BUILDINGS

 

Post 296 –  by Gautam Shah

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A building is an enclosure, and every breach or break-point in that poses a hazard. Security in building is a concern from extraneous sources, and due to the working of systems functioning in the interior of a building. It is the state of being or feeling secure. Security and safety are synonymous. These  concerns arise when amenities or facilities require use of extra-ordinary anthropometric capacities and physiological efforts. This could be like a fast escape, opening a jammed door, negotiating by unusual means, etc.

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Art shop in High Street Armadale Wikipedia Image by Donaldytong

Safety and security problems occur at  openings, height related hazards, fires and other high energy exposures, biological infections, fast-moving entities. In most cases situations become hazardous due to the deficient design, misuse and ignorance. Security hazards occur due to malicious use, such as in prisons and facilities for mentally challenged patients.

Large Glass shop fronts -illuminated insides -lesser risk of break-in due to inward visibility

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Windows of all types are security risks. Windows bring forth two sets of fears: someone breaking in through the window and someone or something falling out of it. A grill in the window frame provides protective cover for both the fears. The chances of forceful entry from outside is reduced when a tall plinth and a high sill level are provided. A window placed on extreme outside face or with none or sloping ledges assures greater security. Security and strong rooms (for arms, ornaments, bank vaults) are placed away from the external edges, or such rooms have fewer, very small, or no openings.

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Looking east along E Street NW at a portion of the dry, gravel-filled moat that surrounds the FBI building as a security measure

Glazing was considered a very fragile material, and for a very long time was avoided in domestic buildings. A glazed window is as safe as the outside conditions are politically reassuring. The post-Industrial age required large glazed windows as a functional necessity in industrial plants, hospitals, railway stations and commercial buildings. The security assurance for glazed building was provided by better manned security management of the estates. Large housing and commercial estates began to have manned surveillance. Large glass shop fronts without iron grills were possible due to community awareness and common surveillance systems. Post WW II production of toughened and layered glass heightened the security assurance. Police all over the world prefer a see-through and interior illuminated shop for security assurance. A house with light seen through a window at night is considered safer. Electronic surveillance systems now allow remote and automatic monitoring and so provide even greater security assurance.

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DOOR SECURITY

Post -by Gautam Shah

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A door is a prime target for an intruder for two reasons: a door is the entrance to a building, so a break-in here equals, to capturing the building. The door (entrance, back or any other exterior) is a node where other interior openings (of rooms, stairs etc.) verge, and for the intruder it becomes easier to spread out from here. However, buildings have many other ‘softer’ points for easier intrusion, like windows, thin walls, weak roofing, etc.

Ruin Dilapidated Building Decay Lapsed Old HomeDoor security also relates to integrity of the door against high speed winds, rain storms, birds and insects, etc. Security also relates, to forcing an entry to save lives. A very strong door that is virtually unbreakable or impenetrable can pose equally a major problem in case of a disaster. Similarly a toughened glass door is difficult to break out or in during fire or accident.

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There is a tendency to caution the users for the security risks and hazards a door system could have, through signs, signage and other forms of alarm systems. But it is always ‘better to reduce the risks, do away with the hazards through design than warnings’.

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The strength of a door system derives from: its location, size, composition, materials of construction, the support framing and the nature of basic hardware and additional safety appendages.

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Security perception of a door varies from one situation to another. A door visible from a street, such as set flush with the wall surface is less a security risk than the one set back in a niche. Doors supported on all sides such as the hatch doors are stronger then supported on one or two sides like the sliding doors. Doors opening both ways are stopped by the hardware and are poorly secured such as the pivoted doors. A door of ordinary glass if breakable is a security risk, but being a see-through element in a well-illuminated environment may forestall break-ins. An intruder prejudges the entry but also remains fearful that someone can see from the outside. Malls, stores have glass doors to make the interiors visible and so safe. Fewer doors make a building safer, but adequate emergency exits must be provided.

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Door security is now considered in more in holistic terms. A well planned and managed community provides better security then the lonely but strongest door system. Electronic and other surveillance systems can eliminate the need for heavy doors.

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Community surveillance systems: Where a community or a building is safe, its sub units (offices, residences, etc.) may not require strong individual security arrangements. Community security system consists of organizing units of a building and sub units within each zone as a domain or bastion with single entry. Several buildings within a community form a precinct, though not bounded by walls but one that can be patrolled circumferentially. Many colonies discourage erection of high and opaque compound walls or hedges, so that individual units remain visible by other members. Yet in case of a complete blackout or during riots some form of security surveillance is necessary.

Community Surveillance

Integrated security surveillance systems solve many of the individual security issues. It works on observation of oddities, recording it for post analysis, warnings, activating the multiple precautionary measures (cutting of exists, power cuts, sprinklers, etc.) Such security systems are part of both the door and the opening system, or even spread across a building. An integrated security system is not an appended system but rather designed and compounded with the building’s structure and functions as a unified method of building management. The system to be successful requires coordinated working of many different agencies. An individual user cannot hope to install and operate such a system, but must contract out such a service.

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