Page 32 - Campus Security & Life Safety, May/June 2020
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“Columbia College Chicago decided that barriers were not a fit with their philosophy of creating a more inviting and open environment.”
By Tracie Thomas
Keeping An Open Environment Secure
New student center at Columbia College Chicago uses open turnstiles to improve overall security
Turnstile Solutions
Columbia College Chicago is focused on embracing security while still maintaining an open environment for students, staff and visitors. With its manual revolving door and barrier- free optical turnstiles, the university is doing just that.
The new Student Center at Columbia College Chicago, opened its doors in the fall of 2019. This 114,000 square foot building offers five spectacular stories of spaces for students including music and film-screening rooms, dining options, a fitness center, a reflec- tion room for meditation and prayer, and event spaces for meetings, performances and receptions.
Initiative to Improve
According to Andy Dutil, director of the Columbia College Chicago Student Center, the school has taken the initiative to improve overall security, with the intention of keeping an open feel to the campus. To help meet that objective at the new center, the architects, Gensler, designed the building with Speedlane Open turnstiles and a front entry, TQM manual revolving door from Boon Edam.
The university has a closed campus that requires students and staff to have a Columbia ID to enter any campus building. Visitors must have a valid appointment. The main entrance at the Student Center is the TQM revolving door that leads to a public foyer that includes a coffee shop and lounge. Since the turnstiles are just past the security desk at the boundary of this area, they serve as a visual and physical indicator of where the public area terminates.
An Open Philosophy That Uses Open Turnstiles
Many universities in the Americas have started deploying optical turn- stiles to increase the security on campus for recreation centers, student housing, libraries, cafeterias and more. Typically these turnstiles include some sort of barrier to control physical entry and rely on staff behind a nearby desk to monitor or help people to get through. Colum- bia College Chicago, however, decided that barriers were not a fit with their philosophy of creating a more inviting and open environment.
The Speedlane Open turnstiles are notable because they do not have any closing barriers inside their lanes, but rather detection sen- sors that trigger an alarm only when someone goes through the lane without an ID or, when someone tailgates a valid user.
Columbia College Chicago invested in having professional guards watch as people pass through the lanes to ensure that everyone is scanning their IDs and that the IDs are valid, in which case the turn- stile shows a green light. In a situation where a red light shows and the turnstile alarms, the guard will intercept the person to check their credentials and help troubleshoot the ID card.
“The decision was really about what creates the least barrier to those entering and exiting the building,” Dutil said. “We don’t really want our students to feel like they are overly policed or that our buildings are not accessible to them. So the design of the Open turnstiles provided the best solution in terms of controlling access without being obtrusive.”
Before the Student Center was built, students entering any campus building would just show their ID to the security officer as they walked past. The administration realized that while this does provide some level of security, it wasn’t foolproof – particularly when a lot of people are entering at the same time for a class. The College’s head of security made the suggestion to install a system that would allow for swift passage of authorized people while maintaining accountability around who enters and exits the building.
Turnover Requires Recurring Training for Students
As anticipated, there was a brief learning curve for the students using the new system. The Center relied on the guards to help train on the correct way to approach and enter a turnstile. They also know that with a quarter of the students turning over each year, this will be a regular procedure in the fall and spring.
“This was the first system like this on our campus,” Dutil said. “And the first few days that the new Center was open were also the first few days of school. There were a lot of people new to the campus who required a bit of coaching from guards and our student staff in terms of where to place your card, and to not walk through before you place your card.”
Dutil confirms that the access systems placed at Boon Edam turn- stiles were outperforming those placed at swing doors across the campus for convenience and adoption.
“Across the campus, there is a card reader at every swing door entrance of a building where you present your card and a light turns red or green,” he said. “But oftentimes the card reader is missed, or depending on the placement of the lights and placement of the guard,
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