Cansec Blog

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Emergency Lockdown

Emergency Lockdown

One subject which ALWAYS comes up when discussing access control at schools is the issue of emergency lockdown. The image is of a big red button which, when pressed, will lock all or select controlled access doors.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Turns out it is a big nasty can of worms.

Cansec’s access control systems (and most others) are capable of performing the function of locking strike or mag lock equipped doors based on a trigger event.  This can be something simple such as operation of a big red button or something more sophisticated such as concurrent operation of more than one push button, a push button operation which only locks selected doors based on the time of day or the state of specific controlled doors. Your imagination can (and does) have a field day.
An emergency lockdown is a serious  event and can have life and death consequences. Which means it has to work - period. If the access control host computer is down, it has to work. If the access control panel is down, it has to work. If the LAN network which connects the access panels to the host is not available, it has to work. If the power fails, it has to work.
Simply stated, it has to be just as reliable as the release of controlled fire exit doors in the event of a fire. And we all know that there are a lot of mandatory building code requirements in place to make sure that happens.
Sadly, this is not the way emergency lockdown systems are currently being designed.
It is only a matter of time before an access control dependant lockdown system fails resulting in loss of life. Once that occurs, standards for the design of emergency lockdown systems will follow shortly.
As a manufacturer, we strongly discourage our dealers from designing a lock down system which is dependant on any element of our access control system. Since we are the manufacturer and have no control over how our dealers engineer their solutions, we have placed strong disclaimers in all our user and installation manuals. They read as follows:
Emergency lockdown functions must operate totally independent of the access control system and must not rely on operation of card readers, access control panels, communications networks, communications devices or host software. Cansec accepts no responsibility for direct or consequential damages resulting from the failure of emergency lockdown functions which are dependant in any way on the operation of card readers, access control panels, communications networks, communications devices or host software.

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