In an emergency situation, crucial time can be lost trying to ensure all employees, contractors, and visitors in a facility are accounted for. First Responders need to know whether search and rescue is required for people still inside, and if so, they need to know what specific areas need to be searched. This has been done in the past with assigned staff monitors at “Muster Stations” checking off names on a clipboard to see that everyone is safely out of the building and accounted for, but this has been proven to be error prone. For example, if a person is in another part of the facility when an emergency occurs and evacuates from there as they should, it can take some time to advise their own Muster Station coordinator where they are and that they are safe. In many cases, this critical information is never communicated. Using identity cards to automate this count improves things, but often, in the rush to evacuate, cards are left behind on desks, so the count is not complete.

Another important use for population counts in specific areas of a facility is the ability to automatically match, in real-time, the needs of the building occupants to the operating settings of the Building Automation systems in their area. This results in the assurance that all occupants are comfortable in their space, but it also ensures that the Building Automation systems can run more efficiently, or even shut down completely, when they know that there are no occupants in a specific area. Tests have shown that operating cost savings of 20-30% or more can be realized using this simple technique. Some buildings do this on a timed sequence, shutting down air handlers and cooling systems after normal working hours, and switching lighting systems over to “motion sensor” operation, without any idea that there may still be people working in the building. Project teams working late for a delivery deadline suffer in less-than-ideal environmental working conditions, and if they are working at their desks without moving around, the lights will go off.

The Solution

The automated people counting sensor relay outputs needed at every entry and exit point for such a system to work, are already built into the processor boards of all models of Smarter Security’s Fastlane® Turnstiles and Door Detectives®. Every time a person passes through a Smarter Security® Fastlane turnstile lane, or a doorway with a Smarter Security Door Detective mounted on it, the unit will generate a count pulse. These systems are fully bi-directional so if they pass through in the entry direction, they will generate a positive pulse count on the ‘’ processor relay output. These two outputs are Normally-Closed (n/c) dry contact relays and open for 1 second when someone passes through. 

These pulse counts are generated for every person detected passing through any entry or exit point. The systems will even count those unauthorized users who don’t badge in at all and tailgate in through a secure doorway behind an authorized user, or those who force a door, or a turnstile open to get in. These actions will cause alarms to sound but counting them this way is designed to ensure that the count of people in the building is as complete and accurate as possible. In rare cases, it is possible to throw the population count off slightly if there is collusion between two people entering, and tailgate detection is somehow masked by their actions. If they can fool the system into not generating a tailgate alarm, there will only be one entry counted rather than two. 

The pulse counts that are generated by the Smarter Security Fastlane turnstiles and Door Detectives, are designed to be collected and managed by the standard Access Control System (ACS) panels that already exist in most major facilities. These pulse counts are generated even if the door detective or turnstile is configured for free-entry, and free-exit, and no identity credential is required to pass through. In those situations, the systems are not performing any access control function but simply counting the people going in and out. This configuration is often seen in office buildings during normal working hours when security is reduced. Then, after hours they are automatically reconfigured through secure IP commands to full access control with card entry requirements. 

Protection With an Eye for ROI 

Population counts can be sent automatically to First Responders and the Emergency Management team at the facility, directly from the access control system, as soon as the first alarm of any kind is issued. This will save time, focus search and rescue efforts, and significantly increase Employee and First Responder safety as a result. Such a system can also automatically manage the power consumption of the Building Automation systems in response to real population counts, and scale back power when they are not actually required. This will result in significant operational savings for the facility. 

And these new sensors at every entry point will improve security throughout the facility, without any direct costs to the security budget. In addition to the substantial employee safety and risk avoidance benefits, the return on investment for this type of installation, due to Building Automation operations savings, will typically pay for the cost of the turnstile and Door Detective in less than a year. For more on how to prepare for an emergency in your facility, read our white paper on Superior Emergency Management with Massive Operational Savings.