Access control management empowers verticals
Editor / Provider: William Pao, a&s International | Updated: 7/3/2014 | Article type: Hot Topics
Regardless of the vertical, end users can benefit from access control management software, which not only helps keep companies/organizations safe but also contributes to more efficient operations and workflow. Determining what end users' primary focuses of management are and what they look for in their access control solutions is the first step towards successful deployment.
Education, whether at a primary, secondary, or higher level, is often cited as one of the vertical markets that needs cutting-edge access control solutions the most, especially after campus violence has become more rampant in the U.S. A NAPCO Security Technologies white paper on school security points out that since 1980, there have been 137 fatal school shootings that killed 297 victims in America. However, safety aside, schools are also looking for ways to extract the potential of their students' ID credentials by integrating them with more functions. This is especially the case in colleges, where students are faced with the need to enter or exit school buildings or dorms as well as borrow books, make cashless payments, and reserve equipment. “They want to integrate all the above mentioned features together into their campus card,” said Tom Su, Sales Manager at Hundure Technology.
To achieve those objectives, schools are looking to integrate a variety of subsystems into their access control management software. “For higher education institutes, integrated subsystems include meal plans, vending, video, distress systems, and mass notification. For K-12, cost-effective lock-down capabilities and visitor management are also required,” said Richard White, VP and GM of Electronics at Allegion.
Integrating these systems into a seamless whole can result in many benefits, said Harm Radstaak, MD of Identity & Access Management for EMEA, HID Global. “They significantly improve safety and security for students, staff, faculty, and visitors. They also deliver cost savings and an easy migration path to future capabilities when needed,” said Radstaak, whose company was responsible for helping the Academy of Art University in San Francisco transition from a lock-and-key environment to an integrated access control system, which enables students to use their ID cards to not only open doors but also make secure purchases and gain access to Urban Knights athletic events.
“The university has realized a number of important benefits from its new access control system, including documented reductions in theft even as enrollment has increased, and an improved campus experience,” Radstaak said.
Another vertical that highly demands cutting-edge access control management software is healthcare, which is also faced with the need to secure a diverse group of people including patients, doctors/nurses, administrators, and volunteers, against a variety of emergency situations such as fires, earthquakes, or fights that break out from time to time at hospitals. Other focuses of management include granting emergency personnel expedited access to patients' wards or intensive care units, and protecting patients' data from theft or leakage to other parties.
Subsystems integrated into access control management software vary based on end users' specific needs and requirements. For example, access control integrated with visitor management makes sure that those without access rights stay away from critical areas such as radiology, pharmacy, and pediatric wards. Elevator controls, meanwhile, are valuable in allowing medical staff to reach certain floors in the quickest manner.
“Saving lives has absolute priority and requires unhindered access, and the access control management system must therefore be prepared for this eventuality,” said Nancy Wanders, Sales Manager of Global Clients at Nedap Security Management, adding with her company's solution, “the ER team has its own special cards. Held in front of any card reader they initiate elevator priority control. The elevator that is especially reserved for the emergency team is ordered to the appropriate floor. Only when this card is used, the elevator will go to the selected floor with priority.”
“The ER team often has its own special cards. Held in front of any card reader they initiate elevator priority control. The elevator that is especially reserved for the emergency team is ordered to the appropriate floor. Only when this card is used, the elevator will go to the selected floor with priority,” she said.
At the same time, the access control management system must converge with logical access control to make sure there is no theft or leakage of patients' data, which has become mostly digitized in an increasingly digital world. “With the right infrastructure in place, healthcare institutions can meet today's security and compliance needs while continually improving security and convenience, protecting patient privacy, and increasing the ongoing value of their investment,” Radstaak said.
For government agencies, the focus of access control management is high-assurance and multi-factor authentication. “This would include technologies such as biometrics and encryption,” said Jason Ouellette, Product Line Director for Access Control at Tyco Security Products. “The need is to be highly secure and highly protected by nature of what is physically being protected.”
Among subsystems typically integrated with government access control management software are HR, visitor management, video, alarms, and encryption devices for communications that need to comply with FIPS standards. According to Ouellette, government users look for software that can handle high-assurance government credentials such as PIV, CAC, and TWIC, along with intrusion zone support. “The ability to handle high-assurance credentials allows highly important facilities, such as government buildings and embassies, to put into place an extra layer of security to keep the wrong people out while allowing the proper people access,” he said.
Users also want their management software to be able to change authentication levels based on the imminence of danger faced by government personnel. “Buildings such as government and municipalities require a high-assurance badge, but when the threat level is moved up, there is opportunity to increase the level of authentication as required to include a second factor such as a PIN or a biometric. Access control authentication changes as the need/threat changes,” Ouellette said.
All this contributes to a safer and more secure environment for government personnel, said Daniel McVeagh, Senior Product Manager for Access at Gallagher. “The benefit is ensuring government facility security cannot be easily compromised. We support a wide range of security and interoperability standards, ensuring government sites are well protected and can leverage their security system investment with integrations into others,” he said.
In today's corporate world, companies are increasingly setting up offices and branches in multiple regions or even countries around the world. The need for multi-site management therefore arises. “They are looking for the ability to have local access control but with a global view. Typically they are set up so a central security station can see what is happening anywhere in the world,” said Tyco's Ouellette.
According to him, this type of installation gives users the flexibility to either own the security operation or outsource the monitoring through a managed access control offering. “Customers can determine what works best for them and determine what level of capital investment vs. operational cost is appropriate for them. Some customers may want to spend the money upfront, while others may find more flexibility with spending the money over a period of time,” he said.
A critical element for success in the corporate arena is the ability to tie access control management software with multiple subsystems including elevators, video management, RFID, key management and more, he added.
“With so many disparate offerings in the field today, the more options that can be supported, the better value the access control platform can provide to the end user,” Ouellette said. “A unified customer experience by offering a unified security platform from which to manage all of the security applications is quickly becoming a requirement for many customers looking for an easy way to manage their holistic security infrastructure. Toggling between multiple applications like video, access control, and visitor management is quickly becoming a thing of the past.”
Access control is vital in ensuring staff safety in an industrial setting, for example a factory or plant. “Securing critical areas is not just a security issue but also a life safety issue,” said Jeremy Krinitt, GM of Frontier Security
For critical infrastructure such as power generation plants that may be the target of terrorist attacks, integrated access control and video systems are key. Other technologies that may be integrated with the access control management software include time and attendance, public address systems, perimeter protection systems, payroll systems, visitor management systems, wireless locking systems, and parking controls.
In an industrial setting, users often look for technologies and solutions that can withstand harsh environments, Krinitt said. Another user demand is access control management software with viable anti-passback technology to prevent misusage that is prevalent in this sector.
“They want a solution that does not allow any buddy clocking,” said Hundure's Su. “Our finger vein device has a high security feature that makes ID theft and buddy clocking impossible. After all, no one can copy finger vein patterns.” Users are also looking for software that can help enforce health and safety compliance, record employees' time of entry of exit, track their locations, and gather them in the event of emergency.
“If a machine explodes during maintenance work, our solution enables you to instantly activate the predefined settings and procedures you've defined for this type of situation,” Nedap's Wanders said. “You can easily control who's allowed access to the incident area. And you can get a quick overview of where your health and safety officers are and direct them to where they're needed. The solution also immediately blocks any zones that people shouldn't enter so everyone's led to the right assembly area, and you can quickly identify if anyone's missing and take appropriate action.”