Poor Sister No More: Access Enters Spotlight, Again
Before everyone fell in love with their security video image, before there were millions of cameras from lipstick to megapixel, there were electronic access control systems, which were true revolutionary darlings.
Synergy Through IntegrationJohn Kenning, who heads the commercial side of ADT, also sees synergy and strength when combining video, especially analytics, with access controls in addition to traditional intrusion and fire. It brings value to the security director through a more intelligent managed service, he believes. Kenning aims at integration through multiple locations as he seeks out the best technologies linking into to a single platform.
Access software as a service is a hit with Larry King, CEO of Shape.net, which provides software to health clubs, wellness centers and personal trainers. King recently partnered with Brivo Systems to provide 24 hour access control to health club clients. Security 101, Birmingham, Ala., designed and implemented the system. “Three years ago, if a gym owner asked if we offered 24-hour access capabilities and we said no, they would just keep on walking,” says King. “Now, as soon as I say we offer 24-hour access, it’s a done deal.”
Remote Access MonitoringShape.net customer Hunt monitors both of her locations using the email and text notification feature and through video feeds from integrated digital video recorders (DVRs). The DVRs allow Karrah to monitor who enters, making sure multiple individuals don’t enter under one account. Hunt and her staff manage more than ten doors, including access to tanning rooms, on-site day care facilities and even the ladies’ locker rooms.
While there is much talk about IP, there are other options. Software House and Deister Electronics see promise in RS485 multi-drop, for example. According to Deister’s Bill Nuffer, in certain circumstances, RS485 can offer advantages such as lower cost, longer range and extended multi-drop capability along with the extension of physical access control system communications methodologies. RS485 was a standard communication technique for many systems in the early days of access control. At the level of enterprise software and controllers, this has almost entirely been replaced by Ethernet. But RS485’s time has come again – not at the enterprise software/controller level but at the door/reader level.
Check That Revocation ListThat’s an important element, as it’s a way for enterprise and government security leaders to leverage existing access control infrastructure. It’s that constant tie to a revocation list that strengthens security and meets government requirements.
While there are government, software and card improvements, nothing seems to have racked up a higher access score than open standard communications platforms that have changed the way security directors view and control traditional security and other building management systems.
Simplicity is also an access goal for smaller installations such as the Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home in Walsenburg.
Meeting Access ChallengesAn inoperative door was a final breaking point for the facility’s Anthony Aldretti. That’s when he called consultant Earl Truncer, who had visited with him in the past, discussing online and wireless access control systems. According to Truncer, the facility had a series of access control challenges including:
• The facility is an “L-shaped” building with the veteran’s home on one wing and the hospital on the other. Medical and staff personnel go back and forth regularly.
• The facility provides meals to the nearby prison. Prison personnel pick up the trays of food and later return the trays.
• On very cold nights, the homeless are permitted to stay within specified areas of the hospital.
• The combination hospital/nursing home has 200 employees and 20 doors that need locking.
Knowing of the facility’s then key-based system and the access control needs of the hospital/nursing home, Truncer put Aldretti in touch with Russell Bogner of Colorado State Safe & Lock in Colorado Springs. Bogner had recently installed Schlage’s bright blue embedded system at several Colorado locations and Truncer felt that it would provide a solution that Aldretti would like. According to Bogner, the proposed system is especially for smaller facilities. “Bogner was right,” emphasizes Aldretti. “We had already used other systems with all the bells and whistles that we didn’t need and never used. They were just too cumbersome.” So the facility upgraded from keys to proximity readers and keyfobs which authorized users keep on their keychains.
“Administrators found that the system is self-explanatory,” assures Aldretti. “As with other Web applications, it is simply accessed with a user name and password. Being so easy to use, we look forward to expanding the system into additional buildings at the medical center.” Aldretti’s boss, Support Services Director Dave McGraw agrees. “We like the reliability this embedded system provides. We wanted a system that we could count on to control access at our perimeter doors, especially for those emergency occasions that happen, including when we need to isolate an incident. It was important that we could lockdown with as few steps as possible.” Lockdown is a simple click of the mouse.
“We also wanted to keep expenses down by using whatever we already had,” adds McGraw. Although much of the facility was key-based, there were a few standalone doors being controlled electronically and being accessed with proximity keyfobs. “We issue keyfobs to personnel on an as-needed basis,” McGraw adds. “What is especially helpful is that now we can issue different levels of security to various individuals. Some people can access all doors; others can only access some doors. Others can only access doors at certain times of the day. To date, we’ve issued about 75 keyfobs, primarily to supervisors, managers and those who must enter after hours.”