An Introduction to Security Mantraps
Portals, Vestibules, Airlocks, Booths, Cabins and Interlocks: What Does Your Enterprise Need?
Security mantraps came into use during the 16th century and were mechanical devices used for catching poachers and trespassers. Today, a security mantrap is commonly described as a small room, area or compartment that is designed to temporarily hold (trap) an individual between two doors (barriers) so that their credentials can be verified before granting access. Verification may be manual, with security personnel doing the verification, or automatic, with technology doing the verification. Most systems installed today are automatic with various integrated technologies to enhance security, safety and prevent unauthorized entry.
In the 17th century, sally ports were built to control the entryway to a fortification or prison. They often included two sets of doors (or gates) to delay enemy penetration. Today, a sally port used for security applications may include doors, gates or other physical barriers to control access of people (or vehicles) to a secure area. Both security mantraps and sally ports are in widely used for security applications, however, despite some similarities, the terms are not used interchangeably, and only sally ports are referenced in the building codes.
Both the International Building Code (IBC) and the Life Safety Code (NFPA 101) describe a sally port as a compartmented area with two or more doors (or gates) where the intended purpose is to prevent continuous and unobstructed passage by allowing the release of only one door at a time. Both codes restrict their use to institutional type occupancies (e.g., prisons, jails, detention and correctional centers) and require provisions for continuous and unobstructed travel through the sally port during an emergency egress condition.
Despite their widespread use, security mantraps are not referenced by either IBC or NFPA, which has given rise to a plethora of terms and definitions, including, for example: security portals, security vestibules, security airlocks, security booths, security cabins, control vestibules and personnel interlocks. For the supplier, designer or code official, this lack of regulation can result in different interpretations of building code and life safety requirements. Generally, the most appropriate sections of the code are applied and enforced, which may include sections on doors, gates, turnstiles, revolving doors and accessibility requirements. Because security mantraps are unique in their design and operation, the enforcement of code sections intended for other technologies may result in installed systems that are over- or under-designed with added costs and project delays, if accepted at all.
A security mantrap may be manual or automatic, manned or unmanned, pre-engineered or built from the ground up, located indoors or outdoors, and include a variety of technologies to enhance security, safety, aesthetics, throughput, service and overall performance. The systems come in various sizes, shapes, styles and configurations with a multitude of finishes, glazing and door options, including ballistic and vandal resistant. Other options and features include: metal/weapons detection, left object detection, tailgating/piggybacking detection, monoblock construction, wall mount versions, network interface capabilities, video cameras, intercoms, anti-pass back integration, biometrics, manual releases, and inputs/outputs for control and alarm monitoring.
Security mantraps are commonly found in high-security, mission-critical facilities (e.g., government, military, critical infrastructure), but can also be found in many commercial and industrial facilities (e.g., banking, data centers, pharmaceutical, health care, airports, casinos, executive suites, high-end retail, R&D labs). Some of the key drivers for using security mantraps include the ability to detect and prevent tailgating and piggybacking incidents in unmanned locations, satisfying various regulatory compliance standards (e.g., GDPR, GLBA, PCI DSS, HIPPA, FISMA, SOX) by restricting access to critical information systems, and protecting against other security threats that have become more prevalent in the world today (e.g., espionage, terrorism, theft, vandalism, protests, etc.).
When security mantraps are being considered as a countermeasure to mitigate unauthorized entry, it is important to establish clear goals and objectives for the equipment, application and environment. Then, carefully review and evaluate the proposed system based on form, fit and function. When these systems become part of the building infrastructure, provisions for security and safety must be met. This often starts with a security risk assessment for the facility or site.
The goal of any security risk assessment is to develop a protection strategy that mitigates risk to people, property and information systems, and, for security mantraps, the primary goal is to prevent unauthorized entry. The security risk assessment process begins with asset identification and valuation, followed by evaluation and analysis of associated threats, vulnerabilities and potential loss impact. Finally, security measures are recommended and form the basis of an integrated protection strategy.