IP at the Door

April 1, 2009
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When security leaders think about IP-based security systems, often they reach for video. But it’s access control that can make a faster bottom line kick. Charles Bailey knows.
     
The director of human resources, safety and security for Goodwill Industries of Eastern North Carolina, he has standardized on an access control Web service for 29 retail program centers. “Before (the system from Brivo), we had a standard lock and key system,” said Bailey. “Each manager had to manually open the store and then turn off the alarm. The problem was we didn’t know who had entered a store and we would have to do a lot research to answer some pretty simple questions on access.”


COVERAGE AMONG LOCATIONS

All employee entrance doors are monitored by the Web-based service. “The great part about it,” commented Bailey, “is when 9:00 comes around and we know the status of every one of our stores. If an area manager sees one of his or her stores isn’t open, they’re on the phone solving the problem. We’re spread out over half of the state. The system gives us the accurate, instantaneous information we need. About a month ago, we had a big snowstorm here. On that day, we could sit and monitor the e-mails coming in to know that all our stores opened on time, we didn’t have employees sitting in the parking lot waiting for a manager, and our customers were being served.”
     
There are business uses of Web-based access beyond security.
     
For example, Goodwill uses it to monitor cleaning operations. Cleaning staff have access cards. Not only can manager confirm that their stores are being cleaned, the organization can analyze access control data when paying cleaning service invoices.
     
Another source, StandGuard has a Web-hosted service offering end-user management of security, access control, and HVAC systems. Through one secure login by the end-user, the service allows for management of locations, systems, and personnel from any Web-enabled device.
     
Just like IP-based video, on the access control side there are numerous ways to skin the IP cat.
     
In one way, panels make the decision themselves in a decentralized fashion whether or not to admit a person. Many times, these systems are connected to the enterprise’s computer network. With another generation of Web-based access control, the control panels not only make the opening decisions themselves, but are complete computers that can be accessed over the Internet.
     
Of course, the next logical step is making access control a third-party Web-based service.
     
The access control market is on the verge of a technological revolution. As IP networking technology matures and computer processors attain new levels of performance and reliability, the industry is shifting from older technology based on hardware panels and proprietary protocols to new high-technology systems consisting of innovative software, PCs, and IP-enabled edge devices. This trend is simply a migration from controller-based access towards server- or host-based access control.
     
IP-based communication with IP door controllers also facilitates the setup process. The end-to-end IP architecture represents a true rebirth of access control technology.

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