Throughout the last 50 years, maintenance and safety concerns for Houses of Worship have changed dramatically. Congregation administrators now find themselves with a host of complicated decisions to make when it comes to keeping their communities, and their property safe. Many of these considerations either never existed in the past, or were never addressed. In fact, many of these security needs have evolved out of changes in technology on one hand, and cultural / socio-economic evolution on the other.
Architectural challenges abound:
These days it is not uncommon to find large campuses that house many varied and diverse structures, which are designed to support the activities of a surrounding community; some campuses feature several, to dozens of structures of all sizes and utilities.
Houses of Worship architecture runs the gamut from ultra-modern to historical and antiquated. It’s not unusual to have to work around vaulted ceilings, arches, stained glass, antique masonry, ancient woodwork, and other features in one room, and then need to secure a state of the art computer lab in another area.
These architectural variances create legitimate challenges when attempting to install wired equipment. When combining this need with the ultimate challenge of preserving an environment conducive to worship, discretion can be elusive.
Houses of worship often serve as community gathering places for many local people who are not directly affiliated. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Scouting and educational programs, or language and GED preparation, all traditionally use the spacious and free or reasonably priced facilities, provided by Houses of Worship in their community. Many of these groups rely on the opportunity to come and go with minimal monitoring. While most of the people who use space in these facilities pose little threat, Houses of Worship sitll need solutions to control access levels and scheduling, creating control and records of who has come and gone.
With multiple functions continuously going on in community rooms, schools and daycares, users need easy to operate, automatic scheduling; per door, per day, per week per month, and even multiple schedules throughout the day. Preferably, schedules should be programmed months at a time or for the whole year.
Reports of violence in recent news are the first concerns that come to mind; According to The Washington Post, there have been 157 mass shootings in the U.S. since the 1966 shooting at the University of Texas including 56 in 2018 alone. While basic safety for a community is at the top of the list when securing any building, decision makers have other concerns to consider that may not be as obvious to the casual onlooker. Vandalism is also a great concern, as are hate crimes and intimidation. Although violence, crime and theft are always a concern in high traffic, high value environments, they are of paramount concern in faith based communities, where philosophical differences may lie just outside the perimeter.
Theft is a particular problem for Houses of Worship. In an effort to create an open-door policy for community members, burglars tend to view Houses Of Worship as a soft target for money, electronics, antiquities, precious artifacts, literature and more. Theft of building materials, or other valuables such as metal and copper, can also be financially devastating, necessitating expensive repairs and increases in insurance premiums.
Perhaps the most difficult underlying question is, how can a Place of worship be made secure and safe while still preserving its atmosphere and sense of community? Can a safe, secure building still be welcoming?
Keri Systems can help.
An access control expert is the best route to take when trying to tackle and overcome some of the great challenges decision makers must face when securing a Place of Worship.
Keri Systems access control is uniquely suited for the varied challenges Places of Worship must face. With its highly-scalable solutions, Keri is currently keeping employees, visitors, volunteers and campus safer; all over the world. Since many of our solutions are accessible through one interface, and most problems can be solved with our standard products, custom deployments are easily implemented at a location without customized prices. Keri also works with multiple technologies, meaning our own proprietary reader, plus HID, Wiegand, Biometrics, Wireless are all integrated in one system.
Keri Systems Access Control Solutions & Benefits:
- Implement “zoned” access control during services
- Limit access to childcare, business offices, cash count areas and media rooms
- Grant preferred access control for unique spaces: Card (credential), Key fob, Key pad, Biometric
- Automatically schedule and manage unlocked-states for services and meetings
- Rely on campus-style lock-down and lock-out features for intrusion/attack risks
- Protect congregational valuables in auditable access spaces
- Pre-schedule evening classroom openings for religious education
These technologies, which have been delineated for use in “Houses of Worship”, are by no means unique to that facility type. The same challenges that exist for worship campuses and individual church structures, exist in some style or manner for most commercial enterprises.