ArticleS

Lobby Security: Making a Welcoming Experience

Maria Gonzalez

Co-authored by Jarod Stockdale

We’ve all experienced the scenario of entering the lobby of a commercial office building and finding ourselves bouncing around between security stations that feel designed to ensure you arrive at your destination 20 minutes late and exasperated. Technology can seem like the necessary evil, but if designed and coordinated properly, it can help enhance the user experience when entering a commercial building.

For example, if you’re a tenant, at a minimum you should be able to simply swipe your card at the turnstile. In some cases, a little screen on the turnstile tells you which elevator to take. Or, with the increasing adoption of biometric readers, a small camera on the turnstile uses facial recognition, or a frictionless palm reader, to grant you access.

If you’re a visitor, you should be able to go to a desk or a kiosk and easily get a printed pass with a QR or barcode that lets you through the turnstiles. 

If you’re the host tenant, you should have no trouble pre-authorizing visitors to access the building and searching a record of past visitors if you need to.

In many new lobbies, it can be surprisingly complex to make all of this, as well as surveillance and other security requirements, work seamlessly. Some of the technologies present compatibility challenges.

Security is more than just putting up some cameras and an alarm. It’s a holistic process that touches nearly every aspect of planning and design.

Extensive coordination is required behind the scenes, and many points of coordination mean many chances for error. Knowing where some of those points of failure can occur is the first step in ensuring a welcoming and secure lobby.

Turnstile & Elevator Integration

  • Turnstile controllers and elevator destination dispatch systems need to be integrated with a central/shared access control database to maximize efficiency.

Life Safety

  • Electrified locks in any path of egress, turnstiles, and elevator controls may require an interface to life safety systems and emergency backup power by code.

Power

  • Various components within each security system could potentially require dedicated circuits connected to emergency backups per code requirements.

Database Management

  • Critical changes to individual permissions, additions of new credentials, and removal or suspension of credentials must be coordinated across multiple platforms where resources are shared.

Visitor Management

  • The system needs to be user-friendly for tenants, intuitive for daily operations, and easy for security to audit.

Aesthetics

  • Security cameras, badging stations, and access points are all elements that need to be coordinated with the design vision of the lobby to ensure they do not hinder a welcoming and intuitive environment.

Anchors & Shared Facilities

  • The efficiency of operations can often be at odds with effective security. Anchor tenants with standalone systems may request integration of their security systems with shared facilities systems to eliminate the need for multiple credentials by employees.

It’s never too early for security designers to be part of the conversation, especially in an environment where landlords are investing in technology to attract new tenants.

By coming in early, we can help owners ask the right questions of the right people. We work as the liaison between owners, their security staff, their design team, other engineering trades, and their facility operations to ensure the necessary coordination of all technology, budgets, and operations that brings to fruition a secure and welcoming experience.

Maria Gonzalez
Maria Gonzalez, CPP, Principal, Senior Consultant

Maria brings to TEECOM more than 17 years of experience in design, assessment, integration, and management of security systems for leading companies in the technology, legal, real estate, healthcare, retail, museum, and educational sectors nationwide. She recognizes the value of her clients and nurtures their ideas by asking questions and taking the time to further educate them on the latest trends in the industry.