Where are the speed gates in Melbourne?

Updated: May 5

While reacquainting myself with Melbourne's office market, I’ve noticed that speed gates are not that common in commercial office buildings. Of the six buildings officially classified as premium grade, none have speed gates installed. Speed gates (which are a type of building access control system) exist in buildings dominated by government tenants, and tenants with single-occupier elevator zones (such as those in the banking and insurance sector) also have a tendency to use them. However, within multi-tenanted premium and Grade A buildings, they’re almost non-existent. This is quite different to many large cities in Asia Pacific where they are far more prevalent in prime buildings.

Speed gates can create complications for landlords and tenants by requiring integration with each tenant's security pass system, and unless they are closely monitored by security personnel (which can be costly), they are not foolproof as tailgating can still occur. Furthermore, speed gates can create complications for DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) compliance. Installing them in existing buildings can be problematic if they do not fit within the original design. And, of course, there is a cost to install and maintain the systems.

An alternative building access control method is destination control in elevators with secured accessibility; this system is quite common in prime buildings in Melbourne. Elevator destination control can block certain floors, but in multi-tenanted office buildings typically 'front of house' zones such as reception areas remain accessible to the general public without the need for an access pass. Sometimes the access pass reader is located outside the elevator (enhancing the efficient operation of elevator systems) and sometimes it is in the elevator (as is common in hotels and high-density residential). For enhanced security and control, some buildings even combine the two, with one pass provided by the concierge opening speed gates and then providing access to the specified destination floor in the elevator. On its own, an obvious limitation of elevator destination control is that there is not complete control over accessibility to the elevators themselves and all floors in the building; tailgating is also much easier, and the building doesn't look and feel as secure.

Maybe the benefits of enhanced security and controlling capacity are not worthwhile because of the abovementioned shortfalls...and because everyone else is in too much of a hurry? Even without speed gates, elevator destination control does slow things down a bit. But aren’t we Australians meant to be relaxed? And modern technology shouldn’t slow people down (too much).

Perhaps the fact we do not have standard government-issued ID cards means that it would be difficult for property managers to mandate ID checking to hand out access passes (probably not)? Or is Australia such a safe place that most tenants don’t feel the need to have speed gates as a mandatory requirement when selecting buildings (I hope it is)? But, then again, many big tenants do to install speed gates when they control the elevator zone (which has the effect of moving part of the reception service into the building lobby). And tenants have controlled access for their demised premises, proving security is important.

Have you ever thought that the term ‘speed gate’ is a bit of an oxymoron? They don’t speed things up, they slow things down!

Australia has plenty of rules and regulations in everyday life, so I am not sure that there would be much resistance to enhanced security measures. The cards can be integrated with the tenant’s security system, so there is no need for building tenants to hold extra access passes, minimizing inconvenience.

Why is it that speed gates aren’t commonplace in Melbourne commercial office buildings? Does elevator destination control provide a sufficient alternative without the clunky infrastructure? And how important is controlling accessibility to buildings for landlords and tenants?  

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