From the Outside In
The first components to consider are the automated entry gate and fencing. The gate location is the most important security decision and should be addressed at the design stage. Gate placement is influenced by three things: safety, position of the office relative to parking, and zoning. It should be far enough off the street to eliminate any traffic hazard with stacking. The office and parking should be outside the gate for prospect to access. Local zoning may also dictate the gate’s location and size.
Setting the buildings on the boundaries of the property reduces the amount of necessary fencing, as fence panels can connect between buildings instead of running along the perimeter. Styles vary, but wrought iron is the most appealing. Back fencing may be chain link to keep costs down. Wood fencing is not a good option due to low visibility.
The three main types of automated gates are swing, slide (or roll), and vertical lift. Swing gates are seldom used for self-storage because the number of cycles per day creates too much wear and tear on the gate and motor, creating a maintenance nightmare. Vertical-lift gates pivot up from one side. These are most ideal in limited spaces because they do not need extra room for the gate to pull back. The slide gate is a cantilever style that rolls on a midrail, not on the ground. It requires space for the gate to pull back, plus the length of the cantilever section.
Work with your installer to make sure your gate system meets life-safety requirements. Even though you have an automated gate on the property, you still need a manual walk gate. It should be latched and locked from the outside at all times, and only the manager should have a key. The walk gate should freely open from the inside by turning a knob or latch. Depending on the style of fence, wire mesh may need to be tacked around the gate to deter someone from reaching through to open the gate from the outside.
After the entry gate, access control is your next consideration. Driven by software, your access-control system is the brain that “talks” to the entry gate or doors. This provides the flexibility and features to adapt to a site’s various security needs.
An access system will link the latest technology in access control with your property-management software to enhance the smooth operation of the site. The most efficient systems are those that provide access control with management software in one package without the need for an interface between the two products.