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Fewer Can Be Better

August 15, 2008
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More sophisticated exit control devices can prove an easy and inexpensive way to handle access.


For specialized installations and remote facilities, there are plenty of electronic access control solutions that make business sense. Check out these.

 

FIRST SOLUTION

To ensure better security for its student housing facilities, has upgraded to exit devices on its controlled access dormitory doors to withstand greater abuse. These exit devices incorporate a deadbolt latching feature that prevents users from forcing the latch out of the jam or roller strike bar.

   
Bethany, a small college of national distinction, was founded in 1840 by Alexander Campbell, an educator, Christian reformer and debater, who provided land and funds for the first building and served as the College’s first president. Previously, the College had used conventional exit devices, which served well in most applications.  However, dormitory doors sometimes were subject to abnormal abuse that resulted in security breaches.  According to locksmith Orien Hunter, some students would pull on the doors until they wandered and the latch disengaged from the roller strike, allowing the door to be opened. Other damage included broken lever trim and doorknobs.

   
At first, electric strikes were used to control student access, but they did not stand up to the abuse.  Damaged door hardware compromised security and had to be repaired or replaced frequently. In order to maintain the necessary security, Hunter worked with Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, which provided a sample of the company’s recently introduced exit device and assisted with installation.  Once it proved successful, several doors in the remaining dormitories were retrofitted.

 

SECOND SOLUTION

houses its students in 19 residence halls dotting its north campus. Axis partner CameraWATCH Technologies has worked with the university as a contractor installing the campus wide surveillance system utilizing its fiber optic backbone. The IP video technology allowed the university to use a centralized recording center in ’s main production/server room. In addition to Axis network cameras, CameraWATCH also installed Genetec’s video management system.

   
To achieve its security objectives, Grambling’s IT department first set up a network to provide coverage for selected areas and then implemented network cameras to monitor residence halls, the newly constructed assembly center, the laboratory high school and property and receiving areas. Even with these improvements, Grambling’s IT department isn’t finished yet. Within a year, the university plans to implement a wireless system that detects motion in sensitive areas such as the registrar’s office, residence halls and administrative areas during certain hours. Once motion is detected, the system will send alerts to campus police in their vehicles. As a result, these types of systems will enhance the university’s ability to respond quickly. Grambling expects to be able to respond even more quickly to safety-related events. Campus police in vehicles will even be able to receive images sent directly from the network cameras to be able to identify suspects if necessary. As a result, Grambling believes it will be able to offer students the safest school environment possible.

 

THIRD SOLUTION

Look for more voice authentication in smaller access control situations. For instance, VoiceVerified, a software as a service provider of voice biometric technologies, has a unique system and method of providing voice authentication to institutional customers having consumers or users. VoiceVerified is changing the way clients authenticate and protect their customers’ privacy by using their voice as the unforgettable password.

 

FOURTH SOLUTION

It is an IP at the door future. Or is it?


Often referred to as IP edge devices; the generic term for the practice of placing devices at the outer boundaries of the corporate network infrastructure. These often use Power over Ethernet (PoE). There is little doubt that this methodology serves some applications extremely well such as IP cameras for video surveillance. Advocates of the concept for access control hold out the promise of labor and material savings. However, the adoption of IP edge and PoE devices for security and access control applications remains questionable at best.

   
Consider the following. Many IP edge/PoE access control systems essentially require intelligent readers to be installed at each and every door. The relay that is used to energize the door strike or magnetic lock is located right at the door. This is the equivalent of placing your spare house key under your front mat. Anyone with minimal technical savvy could defeat this type of access system, gaining access to “secured” areas. Some manufacturers of IP readers provide anti-tamper switches in an attempt to mitigate this risk. However despite the added tamper switch, many in the industry recognize this as a significant security risk and avoid these products for this reason alone. More prudent integrators prefer to have the door strike or magnetic lock activation device or relay to be secured some distance away from the door on the secured side of the installation – as is the case with traditional panel based access control products which continue to dominate
the market.

   
IP edge/PoE access control equipment by its very nature is 100 percent dependant on the corporate network. Many will argue that network availability for today’s network equipment runs at 99.99 percent uptime. Impressive.  However it should be noted that network maintenance in most organizations takes place at night or on weekends — the very periods when facilities are at their most vulnerable, and security is most needed, according to Steve Dentinger of Keyscan Access Control Systems.

   
He said that chief security officers should also consider the following: PoE has strict power limitations that regulate power to the access controller. This is further complicated by cable voltage drops due in part by cable lengths and other pertinent power related issues with PoE. As a direct result driving a quality strike or magnetic lock can be problematic as both strikes and magnetic locks when activated can severely drop the line voltage causing intermittent door activations and malfunctioning access control hardware. Manufacturers of this equipment will advise that a costly line power injector is recommended to ensure line voltage and wattage ratings are maintained at the PoE load.

   
There is another critical flaw with PoE in relation to its use with security and access control applications. The PoE has a power-up protocol or routine that leaves nodes (in this case readers) un-powered until a power up sequence and load impedance check has been satisfied. Manufacturers of this equipment also recommend the addition of a PoE UPS to mitigate power fluctuations and interruptions. Considerable additional unforeseen costs are incurred when an IP edge/PoE based access control system is moved from theoretical to actual implementation. One should not underestimate the hidden costs of such systems.

   
Some advocates reference the convenience of piggybacking IP edge/PoE access control solutions on the existing corporate network. Although tempting, just as with Internet based access control products, IP edge/PoE access control solutions open the enterprises' access control equipment and software up to nefarious activity such as hacking, and as stated earlier, hardware tampering. The age of cybercrime gangs is here, and no longer are these groups satisfied with obtaining sensitive information. They now aim to take control over PCs and their connected infrastructure. While it is not desirable to have someone hack into and view or disable a video surveillance system, imagine how much more damaging it could be if a hacker were to unlock a door; or enable or disable access control cards at will.

   
Dentinger suggested adopting a hybrid access control panel solution. Simply put, the emerging technology of IP edge/PoE for security and access control applications presents significant security risks, and hidden “not as advertised” costs. In the end a hybrid approach with multi-reader TCP/IP equipped access control panels provides the most cost effective and security robust solution in the access control/ security market place. 

 

FIFTH SOLUTION

Allina Hospitals and Clinics is a not-for-profit family of hospitals, clinics and other care services dedicated to meeting the lifelong health care needs of communities throughout . Providing 24-hour security and workplace safety are priorities for Allina and were the chief reasons behind the company’s decision to add RedSky Technologies’ E911 Manager to their corporate network.

   
Allina streamlined and consolidated their 13 corporate offices scattered around the Twin Cities into one mammoth headquarters complex and installed a new state-of-the art Avaya communications system that supports a mix of 2,500 digital, analog and IP voice endpoints spread across 9 floors and a sub-basement. They required a scalable E911 system that supported all types of users from a single server so that location information would be kept up to date at
all times.

 

SIXTH SOLUTION

Can smart cards make security as convenient and routine as a credit card?


With all the problems schools face today, the Runnemede School District of Runnemede, N.J. needed an access system that would best protect the occupants of the school. The district installed a smart card access system in all three of its elementary schools.

 

SEVENTH SOLUTION

Consider one-card convergence.

   
Even on a smaller size organization, security executives facing cardholders that must perform a variety of activities, the business strategy can be convergence on a one-card solution. That’s the case at . It shifted to electronic access with a central database. The bottom line: a one-card access control system that will enlarge across all the university’s facilities and needs.

 

EIGHTH SOLUTION

A top security strategy – electronic access control – can gain strength through a diversity of security technologies, often integrated. That’s the case for a plant. Robert Bosch Fuel Systems, a manufacturer of diesel fuel injectors, created a new building-wide access control system that also integrated with time and attendance.

 

NINTH SOLUTION

Consider the perimeter.

Products that increase security outdoors and around facilities are in greater demand today. Security executives are adding more video surveillance while extending electronic card access controls farther out from sensitive entrances of facilities.


Outdoor and perimeter sensors detect intruders as soon as they enter a protected area and before they can gain access to people or valuable assets. Outdoor sensors can be used either to complement indoor security sensors or as primary security.

 

TENTH SOLUTION

Even today, some organizations and facilities, often the small ones or at remote locations, still log in visitors through a sign-in book and issue “stick ‘em” paper badges.


However, slowly but surely, enterprises are upgrading their visitor procedures as they tighten up on lobby and reception desk security. While fewer than 35 percent in a recent poll report they have security officers at the main entrance desk, many also say they have added technology or will soon purchase technology to better identify and track visitors, including contractors. There are standalone visitor management systems but they also can connect into the electronic access control system, too.

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