There’s no doubt that the current Coronavirus pandemic will heavily impact the way people access buildings and spaces – both public and private – in the near future.

As the world slowly and cautiously opens up for business after the forced shutdown, people can expect new regulations for access in place as part of risk mitigation at government, public and private buildings.

“Certainly, there will be a new normal for people-intensive public and private facilities, where owners have a duty of care to protect staff and visitors,” observes security and entrance control specialist Boon Edam Australia managing director Michael Fisher.

These changes will be particularly relevant to hospitals, healthcare facilities, schools, hotels, restaurants, banks, tourist attractions, landmark structures, and community and cultural assets.

“Coronavirus may well accelerate changes that were already underway to promote greater safety and sustainability within our urban infrastructure. Such changes will be driven not only by the need to protect against health-related risks, but also in some cases to exclude threats such as urban pollution and to counter the rising incidence of physical violence against providers of public services.

“They are also highly relevant to holders of valuable physical and electronic assets, including data and commercial information,” says Fisher, whose parent organisation Boon Edam is a leading global manufacturer of energy-saving revolving doors and security entrances in 27 countries, serving global brands in data management and internet services.

The 140-year-old family owned company’s top quality entrance control products are used by dozens of Fortune 500 companies as well as social infrastructure, transport terminals, and public and private spaces that are at risk from extreme physical intrusions such as terrorism, violence and theft, to more subtle but sinister threats including airborne pollution and contagions.

Security technologies working in harmony

According to Fisher, new technology – including facial and retinal recognition where required – can be built into layered entrance and internal access control plans to lessen the cost of manned security by providing 24-hour coverage in specific areas without the need for manned positions.

“Manned and electronic security are complementary parts of the same equation,” explains Fisher. “One can do a vital job in one area, while the other can actually save money by reducing the need for manned posts in other areas.

“The sheer volume of people whose access will be needed to be regulated in the future in the interests of health and security means that access technologies will need to be designed into our facilities, either from new or retrofitted.”

Factors that are causing an upswing in demand for revolving doors and security entrances – as part of much wider public health planning – are not going to go away, says Fisher. As more people occupy smaller spaces in dense urban environments, several issues crop up from regulation of health threats presented by infected people, through to broader health and sustainability factors affecting entire buildings, including exclusion of pollution and conservation of energy used in the building’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC). Australia’s CSIRO says HVAC systems account for 40–50 per cent of a commercial building’s energy use and contribute 34.7 megatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

Multiple benefits

Designers have long been aware of the energy conservation, sustainability, and healthier building interior benefits of revolving doors, with their ‘always open, always closed’ functionality limiting HVAC loss and keeping out airborne pollutants.

This is because revolving doors function efficiently as airlocks, which allow smooth pedestrian flow while keeping expensive cool air inside on warmer days, reducing air conditioning costs. In cooler times, they keep cold air out, thereby reducing heating costs.

Additionally, their built-in ability to exclude airborne pollutants at all times is expanding still further under the impact of long-term and seasonal threats, such as pollution generally and bushfire in particular.

In the post-Coronavirus world, the threat of contagion from people carrying infections can only increase, as more people are concentrated into smaller spaces at work and in public facilities.

“Virus infections are a fact of life long-term. Infectious diseases have been with us from the beginning of time, as people intermingled ever more extensively. You often hear doctors advising people to stay indoors during times of high pollution or weather that stirs up allergens, which is good advice. And you also need to keep the interior space healthy and sustainable. So public health officials are also acutely aware of the need to regulate people you do admit to public and private facilities during times of pandemic, which is a process that starts at the front entrance.”