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5 Building Design Decisions Your Security Integrator Should Make

By Luke Hannibal, Chris Hines and Keith Nelson

We are advocates for incorporating security and access control into the building design process as early as possible. Not only does this approach save you money, but it can also make a big impact on the security and overall aesthetics of your building.

Although security integrators aren’t designers or architects, we are experts at reviewing building plans to ensure the design decisions you make won’t negatively impact the safety of your people or property.

Why Architects Should Work With Security Integrators

Security systems are always incorporating new technology into cameras, monitors, proximity sensors, motion sensors and door locks. That’s why we like to work closely with architects to make recommendations to ensure the building is being designed with the latest technology and security practices in mind.

When architects consult with a security integrator during the design process, they are taking an important step to ensure the building uses the latest security technology and has the necessary infrastructure in place to support it.

We recommend that architects work with a security consultant or integrator once they have a general layout in place and have drafted the building design. That way we can make recommendations before the architect gets owner approval.

How Security Integrators Work With Architects to Design Safer Buildings

But what kind of design decisions do security integrators make and how do we work with architects? Here are five common things we look for when reviewing building designs:

1. Electrical conduit placement.

This is the biggest mistake we see when reviewing building plans. For every location a building owner wants a camera, proximity sensor, card reader, turnstyle or any other access control measure, there must be electrical access in that area.

However, without the information about the number and kind of security elements that will be installed, the infrastructure may not be in the proper places. That means, you’ll either have to re-wire the building to get the security features you want or you’ll be without power in the places you need it.

But if a security integrator consults with the architect on the front end to identify the placement of all the security features, then an electrician will know exactly where to install the necessary conduits. This means you won’t have to go back and re-wire or re-work walls to get security technology in the facility.

2. Number of exterior doors.

Did you know that door hardware that’s tied into an access control system isn’t available to buy off the shelf?

Door hardware is built to order based on material, quantity, door configuration and any electrified hardware components. That’s why it can take up to eight weeks to fabricate.

The earlier a security integrator knows the kind of doors and sizes needed, the sooner they can order access control parts. This will help prevent costly delays in the completion of the building.

3. Security camera placement.

There’s no hard and fast rule about number of video surveillance cameras per square foot. It’s more art than science. However, most security integrators have extensive experience determining the number of security cameras to ensure both the interior and exterior of the building have proper video surveillance coverage.

If we can review the blueprints during the design process, we can make recommendations on security camera placement before the electricians begin their rough-in. That way, electricians and installers will know exactly where wires, boxes and conduit need to go to support the cameras.

4. Blind spots.

If we spot an area of a building that is hard to see with a security camera, we point that out before any walls ever go up.

When we make these recommendations, architects can make a slight adjustment to their designs so that both cameras and human eyes have a better view of the area. This helps keep buildings safe from vandalism and protects people from criminal behavior.

5. Security panel placement.

The access control panel, which houses the hardware for wire terminations and control, should be in a secure area, like a locked control room or dedicated data room.

However, the keypad that controls the entire security system should be publicly accessible at all times.

We want to make sure the security keypad isn’t placed behind a locked door or any other inaccessible area because users must have access to this keypad in the event of a fire, false alarm and even a fire inspection by the Fire Marshall. We call that “clear path access.”

A security integrator can help you find a location for the keypad that’s both accessible and pleasing to the eye.

How to Avoid Building Delays, Expenses and Do-Overs

It’s easy to see how consulting a security team during building design could prevent potential headaches.

If security isn’t part of the design phase, building projects are faced with delays, unplanned expenses and change orders to redo work that has been contracted with other providers.

Call in the security experts during the design phase, and you will be the hero on your next building project.

Have a new construction project in the Nashville area? Contact ACT to discuss how we can partner with you to make your building’s security smart, simple and hassle-free.

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