Page 106 - Security Today, September/October 2021
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Remote Monitoring
panuwat phimpha/
By Bruce Canal and Paul Baratta
Adapting Security Technology
Innovations that will stand us in good stead for years to come
Necessity is the mother of invention, especially when it comes to battling COVID-19. We have tried common sense practices like frequent hand wash- ing, masking, and social distancing. Yet the scourge is still among us. With school districts eager to get students back in the classroom, and hospitals desperate to curtail the surge of COVID patients, it is clear they could use a helping hand to return to some semblance of “normal.”
Where might that helping hand come from? Network security technology. The same technology used to monitor and secure a cam- pus can also be used to address the variety of problems posed by the presence of COVID-19. After all, protection is protection – whether you are trying to stop an intruder or a virus.
The beauty of these investments is that even though they’re being used to combat COVID-19, the technology will continue providing safety and security value to a campus – whether an educational insti- tution or medical complex – long after the virus has run its course.
Two application perspectives: traditional security and COVID
Surveillance. Most schools and hospitals install video cameras to keep an eye on who enters and exits the campus. They want to know if someone is suspiciously loitering around the property or trying to sneak into restricted areas. Those same cameras can be used for con- tact tracing, determining who might have been within three feet of or interacted with a COVID-19 positive individual. Since we know close proximity contributes to the spread of the disease, early identification and isolation of others who might have been exposed is critical to stemming a massive population outbreak.
Remote monitoring. Many hospitals remotely monitor patients so that medical staff can safely oversee multiple patients without com-
promising quality care. During COVID, virtual monitoring limits the spread of infection by reducing the number of times staff need to enter an ill patient’s room. This also decreases consumption of per- sonal protection equipment (masks, gowns and gloves) per shift, a significant cost savings.
Touchless entry. Hands-free entry systems have become a ubiqui- tous convenience. A video camera or sensor detects motion and auto- matically opens and slowly closes the door or triggers an alert for a remote person in authority to activate the automated door mecha- nism. People swipe a keycard to unlock the door themselves. During COVID, many schools and hospitals are taking hygienic access to another level with keyless entry systems that can be triggered by a QR code loaded on a smartphone, thus eliminating the need to touch virus-laden surfaces like door handles and keypads.
Replacing traditional doors with contactless power doors, like those used at handicapped entrances, can be especially useful in ele- mentary school settings where students typically cluster in groups and take turns holding the door for classmates going in and out for recess. In entrances where additional security is an issue, campuses can integrate audio-video intercoms to enable visitors to be vetted for COVID exposure before activating the power door.
Intelligent audio. These systems provide a mechanism for convey- ing timely communication – live or pre-recorded messages – whether directing a trespasser to vacate the premises, announcing emergency evacuation procedures, or simply paging someone to report to a cer- tain location. During COVID, many institutions integrating intelli- gent audio systems with video cameras to automatically trigger pre- recorded health information to people entering the building, such as a reminder to mask up and use the provided hand sanitizer.
Especially in schools where students tend to cluster, administrators

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