The Colorado movie massacre has several pundits, including psychiatrists, sociologists and others trying to determine what, if anything could have been done to prevent the tragedy. The technology community should offer its recommendations too. Sensing should play a significant role in the solution.
Ironically, just over 100 years ago, another tragedy killed over 146 girls in a deadly workplace accident in New York City and resulted in numerous changes. Unlike the Colorado tragedy, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 had a locked door problem. One cause of the large number of deaths was locked doors or doors that only opened inwardly so people rushing to escape prevented the doors from opening. Since analysis after the tragedy revealed so many changes that should have been made, the fire resulted in the establishment of government regulations for business. Prior to the fire, government regulations for business were minimal.
Today, the escape routes and planning for fire emergencies protect people at work and in public places like theatres. Security is also a major concern for property owners. Doors with sensors to detect whether the door was opened, remained unlatched or blocked open offer significantly more protection than a mechanical latching mechanism. While the sensors-based solution is more expensive than the traditional door hardware, for a theatre, one insider who opens the door to allow unpaid entrants into the theatre could offset the cost if only a few of these instances occur. The sensor-based solution certainly would have provided a warning that something out of the ordinary was occurring in the Colorado theatre to initiate an investigation prior to the tragedy. In public gatherings, people need to be protected, too.
An example of existing door hardware that provides a latch monitor is Securitron’s LM series that electronically verify mechanical latch and bolt positions using SPDT switches to perform the sensing. Other companies offer solutions to the problem as well. The hardware and software just need to be installed and monitored.
For more about Securitron’s latch monitor with an integral sensor, click here.
If you have a technical solution, let me know and I’ll get it posted.
Filed Under: Sensor Tips