THE MAGAZINE

Putting Muscle into Access Control

By Robert Elliott

Anytime Fitness is using antitailgating devices at its clubs around the United States to snare uninvited guests.

As its name suggests, Anytime Fitness, Inc., a nationwide health-club chain, prides itself on being available to its users 24 hours per day. But the convenience of Anytime’s round-the-clock shifts left the business open to abuses by its less scrupulous members.

“Because at times we have unstaffed fitness centers in agreement with our business concept, it was feasible for a member to bring in friends or family who were not members,” says cofounder Chuck Runyon. “They would bring them in at two in the morning, and we wouldn’t know about it.”

Anytime solved the problem by installing Designed Security, Inc.’s (DSI’s) ES520 antitailgate device on access doors. Members need to enter with a valid proxcard. Now, if an unauthorized person goes in after the member’s card is swiped, the system captures the illegal entry by posting a yellow flag on Anytime’s computer software.

An illegal entry is time-stamped, labeling the member who is trying to sneak in another body. The member’s picture pops up on the computer software triggered by the yellow flag. The time of the alleged violation is cross-checked with digital video recorded from a camera posted at the entrance, so Anytime’s personnel can verify the event.

The new access controls have achieved their objective. “We’ve seen [illegal entry] decrease substantially,” says Runyon. “Some of our franchises have turned this into a profit center, because they automatically charge $15 for the extra visitor to the member’s account,” he explains.

The DSI antitailgating system consists of two black strips about four feet tall and an inch-and-a-half wide that are mounted on either side of the door. The strips produce an infrared curtain across the doorway that detects people walking through, along with the direction they are going. One of the strips contains no electronics, save a tamper switch that will tip the club off to possible vandalism via a local or remote alarm.

The strips are designed to screw-mount onto doorframes and are aesthetically unobtrusive. The package includes the necessary wiring to set up the unit, along with built-in configurations. The only option that comes with the unit are remote annunciators, which can be used in an interlocking door application to give visuals of a green or red light.

There is also a switch built into the unit that allows it to be turned on or off using a key. Distinct doors can be activated or shut off either manually or via a timer. The system is designed for interior spaces such as control rooms, computer rooms, data rooms, and the like. Various access controls may accompany the ES520, including badges, PIN numbers, biometrics, or swipe readers. They come separately from the DSI unit.

Curtis Lamson, sales and marketing manager for the Bastrop, Texas-based DSI, says “quite a bit” of staff training is necessary for the antitailgating device. Staffers manning the desk must learn how to issue badges to new customers and show them how to use the system. Staffers also have to keep the ES520 clean using instructions that are included with the package. “If you use the wrong solution to clean the product, it can cause problems,” says Lamson. “It’s the same thing as cleaning a camera housing—if a residue or film is left on there, it won’t see as well.”

Anytime has been using the DSI antitailgating device for a couple of years. The company currently boasts at least 150 open and operating clubs, and has more than 320 franchise territories sold. Each new club that comes online is now mandated to have the antitailgating device.

When potential new members are shown around Anytime clubs, the antitailgating device is pointed out as per managerial directive. “It automatically acts as a deterrent,” Runyon says.

It is also a timesaver for staffers trying to track down guilty parties. The yellow flag on the system gives staffers a precise time to check and evidence pointing to certain individuals. “[Before] we would have to manually go back and check our DVR unit to see if our members brought anyone else in,” Runyon says. Finally, because the centers don’t have to be staffed between approximately 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., payroll costs are shaved.

The DSI antitailgating device is costing Anytime about $2,000 per club. That includes shipping, delivery, installation, setup, and the hardware. Lamson says the suggested retail price for the ES520 is $1,576, including the wiring and wiring harness.

Runyon says the DSI system is installed on the member’s entrance at each club. Anytime is also considering putting the system on the nonmember door at each facility to track how many people are coming through that door. “So if you want to track prospects coming through the door, rather than taking a salesperson’s word for it, it can be a great tool,” he says.

There is only one bug in the DSI system that Runyon has come across. “Every now and then, if someone comes in with a larger workout bag slung across their shoulder, it has flagged the system for two people,” he notes.

(For more information: Curtis Lawson, sales and marketing manager, Designer Security, Inc.; phone: 800/272-3555; fax: 512/321-9181; e-mail: sales@dsigo.com.)

 

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