May 16, 2020

Top safety considerations when building apartment blocks

Apartment Construction
3 min
Top safety considerations when building apartment blocks
With a growing number of people choosing apartment living, it's more important than ever to make sure apartments are a safe and secure place to call...

With a growing number of people choosing apartment living, it's more important than ever to make sure apartments are a safe and secure place to call home.

From small complexes to large apartment communities in major metropolitan areas, construction companies are doing all they can to ensure the safety of tenants.

Here are just a few ways construction companies are making apartment safety a top priority:

Gated Communities

Front gates and fencing are an apartment community's first line of defense against crime. Construction companies are including front gates and fencing in their designs not only for security purposes, but also as a design feature of the community itself.

Designers are incorporating security gates and fencing to match the rest of the community's architectural design. For example, Bell Valley Ranch Apartments in Irving, Texas recently installed controlled access gates to give residents more peace of mind and reduce future crime rates.

Likewise, they are incorporating different kinds of technology in the security gates such as key fob entry and barcode decal readers. This makes it easy for residents to enter without compromising the level of security the gate provides.

Security Systems

Personal security is a major part of making an apartment complex safe, which is why construction companies are including security systems in each apartment.

The Lenox Park Apartment Community in Atlanta, Georgia updated their apartments with monitored security systems to keep up with the security needs of residents.

Some of the more advanced security systems feature wireless connectivity to mobile devices. This allows residents to monitor their apartment and receive alerts even if they aren't home.

SMS Alerts

Although construction companies do all they can to make sure residents are safe, apartment management companies sometimes need to take things a step further.

As the following article looks at, a number of management companies are keeping apartment communities safe with SMS text messaging and alerts.

Apartment complexes are encouraging residents to sign up for SMS alerts to keep the community up to date on everything from events to emergency situations and burglaries.

With the success of SMS security alerts in college apartment complexes at Eastern Michigan University and the University of Texas, residential apartment complexes are quickly adopting the technology.

Exterior Lighting

Apartment communities are known for their large parking areas, which can become a target for car burglaries. As a result, construction companies are making sure apartment properties have plenty of exterior lighting.

Parking area lighting in combination with perimeter fence and motion-sensing lights around clubhouses and common areas help deter burglars.

In addition, apartment community designers are including walkway lighting along all pathways in apartment communities. This helps residents safely navigate the property at night.

Common Area Security Cameras

There are a number of common areas in apartment communities including exercise facilities, clubhouses, hallways, and lobbies. In order to increase safety measures, construction companies are adding common area security cameras to their apartment designs.

Security cameras not only deter attacks and robberies, they also help catch criminals when theft does take place. The Siena Villas Apartment Homes in Elk Grove, California feature surveillance cameras in most public areas to enhance the property’s security for example.

A number of apartment management companies are retrofitting existing communities with monitored cameras in the common areas mentioned above as well as parking and mailbox areas. These cameras add another level of safety to apartment living.

From lighting to entrance gates, it's plain to see that safety and security in apartment communities is by design.

Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including construction and home security.

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Jun 17, 2021

Why engineers must always consider human-induced vibration

Dominic Ellis
3 min
Human-induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users

Human induced vibration, or more accurately vibrations caused by human footfall, often conjures images of Millennium Bridge-style swaying or collapsing buildings.

But in reality, the ‘damage’ caused by human-induced vibrations is less likely to ruin a structure and more likely to cause discomfort in people. Though not as dramatic as a structural failure, any good engineer wants to make sure the people using their structures, be it bridges or buildings or anything in between, can do so safely and comfortably. This is why human-induced vibration must be considered within the design process.

Resonance v Impulse

There are two ways that human-induced vibrations affect structures: resonant, and impulse or transient response. Put simply, resonance occurs when Object A vibrates at the same natural frequency as Object B.

Object B resonates and begins to vibrate too. Think singing to break a wine glass! Although the person singing isn’t touching the glass, the vibrations of their voice are resonating with the glass’s natural frequency, causing this vibration to get stronger and stronger and eventually, break the glass. In the case of a structure, resonance occurs when the pedestrian’s feet land in time with the vibration.

On the other hand, impulse or transient vibration responses can be a problem on structures where its natural frequencies are too high for resonance to occur, such as where the structure is light or stiff. Here the discomfort is caused by the initial “bounce” of the structure caused by the footstep and is a concern on light or stiff structures.

Engineers must, of course, design to reduce the vibration effects caused by either impulse or resonance.

Potential impacts from human induced vibration

Human induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users. These include:

  • Interfering with sensitive equipment Depending on the building’s purpose, what it houses can be affected by the vibrations of people using the building. Universities and laboratories, for example, may have sensitive equipment whose accuracy and performance could be damaged by vibrations. Even in ordinary offices the footfall vibration can wobble computer screens, upsetting the workers.
  • Swaying bridges One of the most famous examples of human-induced resonance impacting a structure occurred with the Millennium Bridge. As people walked across the bridge, the footsteps caused the bridge to sway, and everybody had to walk in time with the sway because it was difficult not to. Thankfully, this feedback can only occur with horizontal vibrations so building floors are safe from it, but footbridges need careful checking to prevent it.
  • Human discomfort According to research, vibrations in buildings and structures can cause depression and even motion sickness in inhabitants. Tall buildings sway in the wind and footsteps can be felt, even subconsciously by the occupants. It has been argued that modern efficient designs featuring thinner floor slabs and wider spacing in column design mean that these new builds are not as effective at dampening vibrations as older buildings are.
  • Jeopardising structural integrity The build-up of constant vibrations on a structure can, eventually, lead to structural integrity being compromised. A worse-case scenario would be the complete collapse of the structure and is the reason some bridges insist that marching troops break step before crossing. Crowds jumping in time to music or in response to a goal in a stadium are also dynamic loads that might damage an under-designed structure.

How to avoid it

As mentioned, modern designs that favour thinner slabs and wider column spacing are particularly susceptible to all forms of vibration, human-induced or otherwise, but short spans can also suffer due to their low mass. Using sophisticated structural engineering software is an effective method for engineers to test for and mitigate footfall and other vibrations at the design stage.

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