What Is The Cost Of Tailgating?

Tailgating is certainly one of the biggest problems for access control systems and the hardest to solve.

It ranges from the friendly neighbor:

To serious breaches at high end facilities.

A member asked us for a way to quantify the cost of tailgaiting.

How much loss does tailgaiting incur? How do you measure it?

Do you try to figure out how many incidents happen per year? Determine how many problems and how serious they were that were precipitated by tailgaiting?

Tailgating is one of the most serious threats to a PACS and yet one of the most pervasive. So why do we tolerate it? It would be like with a surveillance system people routinely temporarily cover the camera; would we be just as complacent? With the rise of building automation systems (BAS) an accurate automated occupancy counter is vital for safety and evacuation, but not possible with undetected tailgating events. My guess is the event distribution looks like a large number of low risk events and a small number of high risk events. So what's the cost? Federal fines are rare, and enforcement must be difficult, so that tangible cost may be low. But what about the serious tailgating threats of industrial espionage, terrorism, dangerous former employee...? These are more difficult to apply an actuarial cost to. But must be central to how a PACS is justified in the first place.

'Worker segregation' has a nasty ring to it, but it is a real operational concept. It means you keep people where they belong, and you keep them out of places they don't.

It might have dramatic value, like keeping untrained or ill-equipped people out of hazardous areas, or it might simply mean you break up the group of workers who like to talk more than produce when they get together.

I have seen access control used to address both cases. In one case where access control was used to 'enhance productivity', it was part of a bigger effort to improve numbers in one area at a local manufacturer. There was one department, connected by one door to a break area, that continually missed their mark. Management finally asked to expand access control to that door so they could monitor who passed through it. Productivity did improve after the door was controlled. Orwellian, maybe, but people don't talk to each other through a shut door.

So it's not 'tailgating' per se, but there could be monetary value to keeping people on the right side of the door, not just damage avoidance.

And of course the cost of tailgating is not necessarily only paid by the corporation...

'Worker segregation' has a nasty ring to it, but it is a real operational concept. It means you keep people where they belong, and you keep them out of places they don't.

WOW!!! Can anyone say Triangle Shirtwaist Factory?

Actually, "Orwellian" is not the word that comes to mind in your example - I would be more inclined to label it a "Sweatshop", reminiscent of the 18th century garment factories which had intolerable working conditions.

I worked in one place that I would define as a sweatshop for around three months during a low point in my professional career. When I had finally had enough, I told the owner to shove his job and walked away to the cheers of my fellow workers, literally.

There's a vast difference between access control and chaining emergency exits closed.

"but people don't talk to each other through a shut door."

Yeah, that about sums up Palomar Industries. Employees were discouraged from talking to each other except during lunch break (God, how I hated the bells that signified start and end of the shift and the lunch 1/2 hour). Workers were also docked pay if they clocked in more than 3 minutes late. The boss roamed the production floor, chewing out anyone for any reason, valid or not.

I almost never saw anyone smile there. In fact, the most smiles I ever saw on my coworkers' faces were the day I marched out with my former boss behind me yelling obscenities. Everyone was smiling and giving me a thumbs up.

It also describes Technicolor (they produced commercial Videotapes) in Camarillo. I interviewed for a job there servicing and repairing duplication VCRs after I left Palomar. What a depressing place. You were frisked going in and frisked going out. Techs each had a workbench around 4-5 feet long and each bench had literally hundreds of VCRs stacked up next to it. Not a smile in the place.

Upon my arrival for an interview, I had to wait 15 minutes while the Supervisor was berating an employee for insufficient production. While I was waiting I asked a tech what the quota was. He said they were expected to service at least 50 machines a day. I found that number astounding (less than 10 minutes per VCR) as I typically repaired 8-10 VCRs a day in my own business.

Needless to say when the Supervisor finally deigned to speak to me, I told her I had made a mistake and wasn't interested in the job.

Everyone was smiling and giving me a thumbs-up.

Was this before or after they started literally cheering?

All of my former coworkers were smiling. As I walked out with the boss yelling and swearing at me, saying he would make certain I never got another job in the area, most either gave a thumbs up or clapped. Some even cheered.

Man traps and guards at the door are very expensive anti-tailgating solutions. But they offer one key advantage; a response that detains the offender. The balance of solutions focus on detection and annunciation, but stop short of detention. Do you think the solutions that only detect and alarm can be effective at curtailing tailgating?

In hard numbers....$15,000.00 if you tailgate or allow a tailgate at one airport I know of. It cost a life in Los Angeles when a former employee tailgated to enter his former work and shot his wife who had been cheating on him along with her boyfriend.

It's the easiest way into a building that has access control and requires no technology.

In reality it threatens the entire value of the system. We are raised to hold doors for people as a gesture of politeness. We have seen the person before and don't want to challenge them.

The measures to prevent it currently fall more into CPTED than electronics, although the EU has some cool stuff for automated border crossing using 3D cameras and such.

The integrators are hesitant at best to bring it up because of the significant cost. Then you have to figure out just how important each door is. Some locations just post people to prevent it.

Physical man traps, barrier bars, rotating gates....whatever....take up space, hinder timely entrance and cost more money. In the end it's more cost effective and easier to pretend it doesn't happen here.

Tailgating is difficult and expensive to solve using technology only. Another choice is using technology in conjunction with policies, procedures and training: to discourage tailgating. Airports have been doing this for decades with reasonable success. Most employees don’t understand or appreciate the danger they create, when they fall back on, what their mother’s taught them about courtesy. A couple of suggestions:

  1. Management must preach the anti-tailgating message, in employee forums, employee messaging, policy manuals, videos, and the employee handbook.

  2. Review the video – periodically review the video of key doors and look for tailgating violations, then obtain the names from a PACS report, and then reprimand the violators.

  3. Use anti-tailgating technology such as turnstiles, tailgate detection, and door prop alarms.

As technologists we tend to solve problems with technology; when many times managing human behavior needs to be part of our design.