In the last year, new standards and technology have changed the face of the security sector. The challenge increasingly is now to fit locks and access control products that meet new British and European standards, yet still provide a high degree of security against break-in or attempted theft in both publicly and privately operated buildings. The Disability Discrimination Act, for example, is designed to encourage building owners, designers and tenants to make permanent physical improvements to their premises so that disabled people can gain access and make unaided use of the facilities available. Central to the purpose of this new legislation is ease of access, making products such as automatic swing door operators an ideal solution to a variety of access control needs. In particular, swing door operators can be used on main entrance doors and internal fire doors to provide free and unrestricted access for disabled people throughout a building. Although many existing offices and public areas are relatively straightforward to adapt, usually by the addition of something as simple as ramps or automatic doors for wheelchair access, companies often do not know where to start when it comes to making premises accessible. Many building owners and tenants are turning to the latest innovations in access control, which meet the requirements of legislation and can also be achieved within strict budgets. The latest range of innovative access control solutions are designed to adhere to the new legislation – both for new and existing buildings – as straightforward and cost effective as possible, while ensuring that the security of the building is not compromised. Automatic swing door operators are an ideal solution to a variety of access control needs, as they offer an efficient, reliable, sophisticated and safe means of opening a hinged door. They follow the DDA’s guidelines by giving disabled people unimpeded entry and can be used on main entrance doors and internal fire doors alike. In addition, when they are used in conjunction with motor locks or solenoid locks, automatic swing door operators can provide hands-free access control without compromising building security. Modern door operators offer a number of advanced features that enable building managers to determine accurate and precise operation, from initial opening speed to final closing speed, hold open time, opening/closing force and direction. The operator has a built-in safety mechanism that prevents the door from closing if anything – or anyone – is detected within the door’s immediate area. Additionally, internal door operators can be programmed to hold doors open for up to 60 seconds. These functions ensure that individuals confined to wheelchairs or with walking difficulties are able to move freely around a building at their own pace. Automatic door operators can also be connected to electric locks so that a secure door can be released and opened by remote control, i.e. from a wheelchair. Doors may also be opened with impulse devices such as push buttons, contact switches or card readers. In addition, for added security and safety, door operators can be wired into alarm systems and set so that, in the event of an emergency, the door remains closed or open, whichever is required. A battery backup allows the door operator to continue to work even in the event of a power failure; this is critical in ensuring disabled people have free access even in the event of an emergency. In addition, access can also be provided to all legitimate visitors by means of a remote access switch controlled by a receptionist or security personnel. This device can, when linked through a door operator, withdraw the latchbolt of the motor lock, allowing the door to swing open. On closure, the bolt will automatically throw, ensuring complete security is maintained. In the event of power failure, while the bolt is thrown automatically, a mechanical override is available as standard to provide emergency access. The DDA is not the only source of regulatory change effecting access control. New European product standards – designed to secure safe and effective methods of escape – have affected the specification of panic exit devices. Indeed their impact is such that where safety is an issue, only products meeting the BS EN 1125 and BS EN 179 standards are now being considered. Fire routes require a quick and safe exit, so standards such as BS EN179 and BS EN1125 must be followed. Final exit doors in particular can be operated using panic exit devices in conjunction with a lock that will open under side pressure. This type of device is available with mechanical or electrical operation; when connected to a central security system, electronic panic exit devices can improve levels of flexibility and security, and can be monitored and operated either remotely or centrally. Electronically controlled panic exit devices combine access control with anti-panic functions, allowing both local and remote control of emergency exit doors by connecting a series of doors to a central station which monitors the door remotely. In addition, systems can be connected to the fire alarm so that egress is assured in the case of an emergency. European Building Hardware standards for electrically controlled emergency exit systems in particular, the forthcoming prEN13637 stipulates that all electrically controlled emergency exit doors must open under a side pressure of 1000N, yet be intrusion resistant. To meet this specification electric locks are being introduced that offer exceptional performance – the effeff 351 for example has been tested to release up to 5000N. Modern panic exit systems add a greater degree of intelligence to exit solutions. For instance, some devices offer both electrical blocking (exit control) and monitoring (system control), while others feature full monitoring with electrical dogging (entrance control). While electrically dogged bars remain locked when the power supply is cut – i.e. they are fail secure – mechanical opening is always retained allowing emergency exit doors to be used for more than one purpose. It is important to note that access needs must be anticipated and provisions put in place, rather than making changes only when a disabled person requires access to a building. When securing any public venue, the challenge is not only confined to granting the rights of passage to authorised visitors but also refusing entry to undesirable elements, such as vandals, thieves or terrorists. This can be achieved by specifying appropriate locking systems and panic exit hardware within access control systems, to safeguard a building’s integrity, while creating an open, yet secure and ultimately safe environment BIOMETRIC GROUP ANNOUNCES CERTIFICATION The International Biometric Group (IBG) announced that it has established its Biometric Performance Certification program to address the demand for independent certification of biometric products. IBG says this program, through certifying commercial systems by comparing them with benchmarks created for accuracy and usability, addresses a gap in the industry for benchmarks that evaluate and compare biometric products. The certification is based on results generated by the group’s ongoing Comparative Biometric Testing initiative. Round Six of Comparative Biometric Testing, beginning in early 2006, will evaluate commercial biometric systems such as fingerprint, face recognition, iris recognition, voice recognition and other emerging biometric technologies.