Beyond opening doors: Access control management rules
Editor / Provider: William Pao, a&s International | Updated: 6/27/2014 | Article type: Hot Topics
Access control remains a major segment of the physical security market and is set to enjoy continued growth. In a recently study, HIS Technology predicted that the global market size for electronic access control will top US$3.5 billion this year, driven by returning growth in the Americas, the Middle East, and Africa. High demand for access control has created opportunities for new products and technologies. One of them is access control management software, which can be useful to users from different verticals. “These may include education, healthcare, retail, transportation, manufacturing and Industrial, sports and leisure, museums, data centers, corporate, airport authorities, and ports,” said Steve Barton, CTO of Software & Controls at Pacom. With strong demand and business from different vertical markets, access control management software's popularity and growth are set to endure.
Integration Drives Efficiency
Access control management software has evolved over the years from being a simple software application with basic functions to being a cutting-edge technology that allows users to access and retrieve information about an access-related event more easily and quickly. On top of that, the increase in integration and interoperability has continued to grow. Today's access control management software can integrate not only with other security systems, such as video and intrusion detection, but also with non-security systems such as HR, room booking, cashless payments, elevator controls, and visitor management.
The resulting optimization in efficiency can help the end-user organization in many ways. “If an employee gets a new role, the authorizations on his access card will change automatically as soon as his new position is activated in his HR system,” said Nancy Wanders, Sales Manager of Global Clients at Nedap Security Management. “This level of automation means a big reduction in administrative tasks for security managers, so they can focus on other tasks and stay in control.” While the initial cost of investing in an access control system may be high, increased efficiency can ultimately cut cost down the road. “Efficiency and cost reduction can be provided in a variety of ways through access control solutions. Some of these include: elimination of cost of re-keying doors when a key is lost, and the ability to pre-register visitors, which is a more efficient process for visitor management,” said Jeremy Krinitt, GM of Frontier Security. “An access control system can streamline the processes and enable operators to wrap up investigations quickly. It can save operating costs for years to come through the efficiency it provides. Access control does that.”
Integration with Videoa Must
Pairing access control management software with video surveillance has become a must for running security operations at end-user organizations. With video and access control both becoming more IP-based, integrating the two has become easier. Players from across the supplier chain — vendors, distributors, and systems integrators — are closely watching how video-access control integration may further play out. Together, access control and video form a comprehensive and efficient security solution for users who can make the right decision in the event of an emergency. During an access control event, the security personnel can quickly pull the video from an integrated system instead of running to a separate video system to figure out who is trying to enter. A faster and more efficient way to investigate an event means quicker response and better situational awareness, which cannot be achieved by just video alone.
“By using only video management, a security operator is only able to gain evidence of a breach, without being able to automatically act upon it,” said Mike Sussman, Engineering and Operations Director at TDSi. “Using an integrated access control system means that the security team can put in place measures or act directly to counter any threats, so there is also a preventative element dealing with any potentially unauthorized intrusions.”
In short, access control management software prevents intrusion by denying access to those who are unauthorized to enter a certain area. Videos, meanwhile, provide visibility and evidence to an event. When combined, access control management software and video management software (VMS) offer a more comprehensive and all-around way to run security.
Access control management software plays a critical role in multi-site management, which has become essential as a rising number of companies now have operations in different parts of the world. Effective management software should offer a global view of what's going on at each branch office, while giving the local branches authority to make changes or adjustments as needed.
“In many companies, you have multiple locations, but there is a corporate human resources department that's responsible for the initial enrollment,” said Jerry Cordasco, CTO at AMAG. “So what they would want to do is to enroll a new employee in the system with basic access rights to the employee entrance of the facility, and then push that record down to a localized database.”
Access control management software and VMS are both important technologies for managing multiple sites. Choosing which one as the primary component, again, relies on the user's specific needs. “Both have their place as the primary engine, and the choice is dependent upon the business and risk,” said Sussman. “Video can only report on something that has occurred or is happening, whereas access control can prevent an event from taking place, backed up with evidential information.”
“Access control and video management each provide benefits, but access control provides many of the necessary pieces of managing a multi-site environment,” said Krinitt. “These key elements include audit of employee location, alarm monitoring, alarm response and processing, guard tour, visitor management and many more.”
Visitor Management:Efficiency and Safety
In today's security management, more end users are tying access control with visitor management, which is an effective way to grant, deny, and control access by visitors and contractors who are not regular employees of a company. In a non-integrated system, visitors are given a badge or temporary ID card after they write on a paper log their names and other information, which can be illegible at best and at worse, fake. Some visitors are also known to walk away with their ID cards, which can then be reused to enter buildings, creating security concerns. Combining visitor management with access control management software, on the other hand, can help improve security and efficiency by registering, badging, and checking out visitors all at the same time, and their ID cards expire at a certain time after which entry will be denied.
An integrated system can even have more advanced features. “It can be used to screen each visitor on states' registered sex offender databases and other watch lists, and flag those visitors at the time of check in,” said Harm Radstaak, MD of Identity & Access Management for EMEA, HID Global. “And it can be used to identify guests who haven't checked out by the end of visiting hours, and flag visitors who, for instance, may have repeatedly violated check-in procedures or stayed too long, and issue alerts upon their arrival.” Integrating access control management software with visitor management systems offers an ideal solution for end-user organizations, especially those that deal with large amounts of visitors such as corporates and hospitals. They can enjoy stepped up security and efficiency made possible by the integration.
Integration: Ne w Hopes for Verticals
When the access control management software is bundled with other subsystems, it can help optimize efficiency and create extra business opportunities for users in different vertical markets. Primary and secondary schools, for example, may bundle lockdown systems and video surveillance with their access control software to better ensure the safety of students and faculty. Colleges and universities, on the other hand, may integrate their access control management software with non-security systems such as meal vending and room booking to maximize the value of students' ID cards. Healthcare facilities may combine access control with elevators, granting access privileges to emergency personnel who can reach critical areas in the quickest time. In other words, if access control management software is deployed at the right time at the right place, it truly works wonders to end users in different verticals.
Choosing the Right Solution
When deciding what type of access control management software to purchase, the user should consider many factors — the size of deployment, the overall objectives that need to be achieved, and whether the software is suitable for the vertical it is to be deployed in.
“Any solution needs to be fit for the purpose and will demonstrate increased security levels along with improved efficiency and savings to the bottom line. For example, it may seem favorable to replace a whole security system with all the latest components. However if the security needs are low and the budget is tight, it may not make sense to do so,” Sussman said. “Conversely, if a number of security systems are aging and ready for renewal, buying fully integral systems could make very sound business sense, both in the short term and also for long term investment.”
Meanwhile, the user also needs to consider the level of ownership that it wants. “When buying an access control system, you need to start by determining whether you want to own and maintain the system or opt for a managed/ hosted platform where everything is outsourced,” said Jason Ouellette, Product Line Director for Access Control at Tyco Security Products. “Do you want to handle the maintenance or pay a service to do it? Once you determine the level of ownership, then you can look at the options that allow you to balance capital expense vs. operational expense.”
It All Boils Down to Efficiency
With its highly integrative capability, today's access control management software can combine with different technologies to help end users take care of security and non-security tasks with greater efficiency. An integrated access control management system makes life easier for users when they investigate events, manage multiple sites, and control access for visitors, not to mention the convenience of performing different tasks with just one ID card. The benefits of integrated access control management software are felt across different vertical markets, and systems integrators should maintain good and open relations with customers to deliver solutions that they truly need.