Tech’s Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Pastor Darryn Scheske welcomes most everyone to his Heartland Church in Indianapolis, everyone except troublemakers. So working with a parishioner, the Church mixed tried and true with newer access technologies to make the campus safe and secure as well as caring.
The Church needed to secure the auditorium during the week to protect its substantial investment in musical equipment and other technology.
As a result, it called in Central Indiana Hardware for advice. Vice President Ron Couch responded. “We had just been introduced to a Web enable security system,” Couch reports. There is a kind of traditional control panel but the embedded application eliminates the need for special software or a dedicated PC.
A number of doors throughout the Church property now use the access control solution. Authorized users enter via proximity cards that they place in front of Schlage card readers.
“For the exit device, we used a push pad,” says Couch. In addition, “It’s so easy to use wireless in such an application,” adds Couch. “Not only were the readers installed quickly, we saved the Church labor costs associated with a typical wired installation.”
Of course, the most tried and true access control device, beside the moot and boiling oil, is the key and lock. “Keys will be with us for years to come,” points out Martin Huddart, vice president of access control for Assa Abloy. Devices have been traced back 4,000 years. Today, however, and as Huddart and others see it, access controls fall into three categories that reflect security, business, facility and pricing needs. Keys are rather low security but everyone can carry one and there is that commonsense ease of use. “Some keys and locks can be designed for better security, too,” he says. For high security, online electronic access control systems can have myriad features and business benefits.
In the middle, “some security executives and enterprises see value in solutions by which you can control times of entry per person and know who went through a door and when,” adds Huddart. This is not necessarily a networked, online design. “This approach often is viewed as starting with college dorm rooms,” Huddart adds.
End users seeking out such solutions for certain doors don’t want separate software but, rather, have them work with the Software Houses and Lenels. Still, tried and true access controls need not necessarily be traditional.
MYRIAD TRADITIONAL, UNTRADITIONAL ACCESS SOLUTIONS
Hosted and managed solutions; smoother integration with security video; more use of biometrics; the impact of IP, cards and fobs; databases that integrate with regulatory, training, human resources, time and attendance. There are now so many options and avenues that the tried and true access solutions of yesterday and even today are moving solidly into a future in which enterprise security leaders, working with their IT departments and outside integrators, must continue to balance legacy and new with a laser eye on the business bottom line.
Among other advances to look for:
• Near field communications enables a smartphone to be a credential or a wallet, another form of identity to open a door or vend a Coke.
• The concept of door access control to identify people times, and permissions can translate to cabinets holding everything from electronics to medicines.
• Then there is what Huddart calls an engine warning light in which the various components of the door control device talk to each other and can send information on problems, service and maintenance needs.
While hardly anyone wants to call it outsourcing, the trend to managed – for some – mixes traditional hardware with a hosted approach. It is a matter of ownership without much of the owning. At one large enterprise, for example, the decision maker sought a cost effective access control solution that would “lead to our employees feeling safer while adding to our overall morale.”
The solution: finding value in a technology-based service – Kantech’s hattrix – which allows a firm’s appropriate staff to enter and update employee information while depending on a hosted approach for software, storage, maintenance and updating, according to Steve Sharp, vice president of DigiCOM Systems, an Ohio-based integration company. Sharp adds that there is also the ease of getting online reports and information from audit trails through his company’s servers.
As with others, this approach provides a spectrum of hosted and managed access control services. Clients get a solution that’s just right for their specific business needs. This level of innovation translates into significant end user advantages in flexibility and scalability, while reducing the infrastructure and training costs compared with traditional systems.
For some enterprises, hanging on too long to tried and true may create its own challenges.
For example, as a mutual insurance company, Employers Mutual Casualty Company (EMC), serves policyholders and independent insurance agents and prides itself on comprehensive protection, superior service and financial stability.
CATCHING UP WITH TIME
Back in 1995, EMC built a 20-story corporate office building in Des Moines, working with Johnson Controls, a security systems integrator, to design, install and service their building equipment and security. At that time, they installed a Westinghouse system for access control, an IFC fire alarm system and a Metasys building automation system.
Fifteen years later, the security system was basically the same as when it was first installed; it was in dire need of an upgrade in order to perform the functions EMC needed.
To help maintain its leadership position, EMC needed to update its security with the latest technology and resources. “Our security system was definitely the weakest link of our systems,” says Scott Gooch, control center supervisor at EMC. “The highest-risk system was the card access and security.”
Upgrading the Westinghouse system was not an option. Support was almost extinct because Westinghouse had moved on to newer systems. In addition, Westinghouse stopped making the older system’s field devices, so if EMC added any buildings, the Westinghouse system would not support it. As the security system became obsolete, EMC feared that it may become vulnerable to security risks.
EMC turned to Johnson Controls, for expertise. It, in turn, worked with HID Global.
A MIXTURE OF READERS
Johnson Controls recommended solutions that would alleviate the limitations of EMC’s previous system: a security management system and readers for buildings and long-range readers for parking garages.
With field programming, it’s also easy to add or subtract employees, or change their access. This way, someone in corporate security in Des Moines can program a card for someone in Ames, or anywhere else within the system. EMC also has the ability to add applications to the cards, including cashless vending, time/attendance and logical access.
“The most significant return on our investment is the cost-avoidance strategy,” says Gooch. “We wanted to proactively replace the security system rather than wait for a catastrophe.”
The solution also integrated securely with the IT backbone already in place at EMC. Since the field network controllers are IP addressable, EMC can easily add controllers wherever the security system network expands. “Because of this integration, lots of hours of labor are no longer necessary,” adds Gooch. “The system is extremely dynamic now. I can put a controller in my office or one in another location across the nation and be done. It’s that simple.”
Tried and true, in this case, may have had its advantages to overcome those yesterdays. But more complex simplicity today has its own bottom line benefits.
ACCESS INTEGRATES WITH VIDEO
Tomorrow? Tried and true is emerging into integrated security systems that also have a video element. While some enterprise security leaders and their CEOs may think security is just for opening doors, John Nordigian is that rare CEO visionary with a long wish list of high-technology security functions that go well beyond access control.
When the time came to replace his antiquated legacy security system, the CEO of electronic parts manufacturer, Norstan Inc., envisioned monitoring of his plant from anywhere in the world with his mobile communication devices. Nodigian also hoped security technology could provide biometric time and attendance, reduce insurance costs, attract and retain Fortune 500 clients, increase profitability, and, of course, secure doors throughout his 40,000-square-foot Pleasant Prairie, Wis., facility.
With expectations so high, Nordigian’s vision began looking like a pipe dream when security providers balked because of their limited hardware, software, or integration skills. A few candidates had equipment limitations that wouldn’t allow the integration of Norstan’s existing five-door HID Global format key FOB door reader system, which would have cost thousands of dollars to replace and install, plus productivity losses during installation. Others couldn’t integrate many wish list innovations.
A BUSINESS BOTTOM LINE
One vendor with both the equipment and the integration skills to make Nordigian’s security vision come true was Matrix Systems, with its enterprise-based access control system called Frontier Universe. The system uses HID VertX subsystems and its open architecture features allow integration of third party technology as well as future innovations. Another key aspect of the integration work was upgrading resolution of existing analog Ganz cameras by CBC (Americas), and integrating them into a new video surveillance hardware/software system by GeoVision. High-resolution digital cameras were also added to the system.
Tomorrow’s emerging access controls play another angle: the desire of security and CEOs to monitor their alarms, doors, video, and other systems through mobile devices.
That goal involved integrating Nordigian’s iPhone and Droid-X mobile apps, and his laptop computer into the system for monitoring anywhere on the globe. The mobile apps connect Nordigian to any number of plant video cameras within seconds versus waiting for a laptop or PC to boot up. Future video improvements will include a conversion to IP to integrate into the Frontier Universe system and add video voice-over to add audio capabilities for instantaneous feedback and communication.
The remote mobility feature is also capable of temporary access authorization, such as allowing an industrial service contractor into a secure area to repair a particular stamping machine.
Once the new video and access control systems were installed, insurance carriers took notice, which enabled Nordigian to negotiate an insurance cost reduction. The true bottom line: Adding more functionality to Norstan’s security was the impetus for replacing the prior access control system, which stopped providing updates for Microsoft SQL platforms and also crashed periodically. Now sensitive area access, such a precious metals inventories, tool areas and IT rooms are accessible to employees authorized by the system with full audit trails.
Mike True’s “true” access realization centered on stability.
GROWING ACCESS WITH THE ENTERPRISE
Teachers Credit Union, headquartered in South Bend, Ind. the largest in Indiana, has more than 50 locations, including a four story corporate office, and continues to buy and build additional branches. For access control, Teachers Credit Union had been using offline computer-managed (CM) locks. They were placed at strategic locations such as at the outside entrance, the door to the teller line and access to the vault room. While these self-contained locks had been easy to install, they required significant resources to manage. Data that controlled access was downloaded to each lock individually, using a PDA. Audit trails and other information were uploaded to the PDA and transferred to a computer. The database itself was managed on the computer, allowing for response to personnel changes, lost credentials and changing access requirements.
However, with each branch having its own CM standalone access control, the growing number of branches and the widening geographic coverage of the credit union were starting to create big problems for True, director of security.
“Every time that some employee left the credit union or another employee was hired, we had to drive out to that branch and reprogram all the locks,” reflects True. “It was costly in time, mileage, and hotels. It just wasn’t working anymore. We were scrambling.” It also meant that security was compromised from the time the need was reported until the lock was reprogrammed. True knew they needed to upgrade but didn’t want to have to replace all their electrified door equipment, including power supplies, closers and exits. They just might have to continue working with what they had.
The solution: Schlage IP-enabled security management system along with AD-Series locking systems. “Most importantly, since it was open architecture design, we could keep our current door hardware intact even though we were going to be integrating a wireless system,” says True. So, if business needs change, the credit union can quickly switch to new credential technologies, a variety of network protocols, increased security levels and system expansions. Upgrades can be as simple as interchanging a module.
At Teachers Credit Union, three log-on levels, including user, operator and administrator, provide different sets of access rights to the system, assuring that system users will access only the functions management wants them to manage or view.
According to True, “Now, we don’t have to drive to the branch to reprogram locks if someone loses their credential. And, if we don’t get a credential back when someone leaves, we can disable their access instantly. This is absolutely improving our operations. This was such a simple solution,” remarks True.
BIG UPGRADING PROJECTS
While there is not as much new and remodeled high-rise construction in North America, new buildings the refurbishing in the Pacific Rim are taking advantage of technology that goes beyond tried and true.
Take, for example, the Malaysian Kenanga International Building, which is equipped with a state-of-art access control system. Refurbishment work was recently completed at the building in Kuala Lumpur, a 22-story commercial structure with a three-and-a-half-story annexed podium block, located in the central business district.
New features of the refurbished main lobby include a physical access control system based on contactless Legic technology, a food and beverage area and an information counter.
The completed system provides the building with:
• Access rights management of staff and visitors
• Efficient reception and management of visitors
- No long lines during rush hour
- Integrated Malaysian IC reader
- Asset protection
• Increased employee safety
- Defined access restrictions within the security perimeter
• Reduced operational cost
- Fewer administrative expenses
• A flexible, integrated, efficient security solution
- All systems integrated
- One point of responsibility for all three systems
There is no doubt that there is a coming together of intrusion, card access, security video and perimeter protection. There are a number of drivers: the move to IP; the umbrella of physical security information management; and the shift for some to so-called “at the edge” solutions.