Your access control system might hold the key to a stronger building management system (BMS), and more manufacturers are beginning to integrate their systems with building automation to create value for the end user, according to IHS Markit analysis and the 2018 Smart Buildings Report.

According to IHS Markit Senior Analyst, Security and Building Technology, Jim Dearing, electronic access control systems are the leading type of security system being integrated into building management system platforms; 29.6 percent of access control equipment shipments in 2017 (including readers, door controllers and electronic locks) were installed and connected to a BMS platform.

Access control is considered to be an important piece of the smart building puzzle due to the quality of information access control systems can provide regarding building occupants’ whereabouts and how they move through the building.

“A huge amount of information attached to specific identities, i.e. information logged in an active directory would likely contain the employee’s working hours, office location and department within that office,” Dearing tells Security magazine. “So once provided with this information via a badge swipe at the door, the building management system would know where the employee is likely going and can adjust climate/lighting/security settings accordingly.”

This could result in major savings for building owners when it comes to energy efficiency and operational costs, Dearing says. While security systems integrators and installers are encouraging smart building investments by offering services such as predictive maintenance and diagnostics, those are optional ‘nice to have’ perks for end users compared with the direct financial motivation of energy savings.

Connecting access control to building management systems also opens the door for connecting additional security systems, such as video surveillance. Dearing writes in his analysis: “BMS platform integration can allow the access control authentication decision to become smarter, by taking into account information from other connected security and building-management systems. A simple example is using video surveillance feeds to verify access-control card swipes.”

According to the report, BMS platform integration is gaining in popularity due to a number of factors, including:

  • Interoperability – This enables end users to manage a wide variety of building management functions through a single, centralized platform.
  • Data Visualization – Accumulated data from the system can be categorized, structured and presented to users in charts, graphics and other visual tools to improve communication.
  • Analytics – BMS platforms offer automated testing, reporting, fault detection and preventative diagnostics, improving building security by ensuring devices are working optimally.
  • Changes to the Supplier Base – Leading security manufacturers are investing heavily in developing wider building management portfolios to keep up with the competition.

A leading challenge, however, is territoriality. In centralized architectures, the BMS provider will want to exert authority, superseding orders from software in access control domains, but that could erode software feature sets from security manufacturers that help set them apart from competitors. Building management also faces challenges regarding who owns the system within an enterprise.

“Moving forward, the major question relates to how willing facility managers, security managers and IT departments in buildings are to cede authority and control of subordinate domains to the programmed logic in a BMS platform,” Dearing tells Security. “If various stakeholders are willing to cede control, BMS platforms and smart building applications in buildings will skyrocket. However, most smart building applications managed by BMS platforms require not only the free transmission of data between many domains, but for algorithms processed by the BMS platform to directly and automatically lead to actions taken as equipment receives and responds to commands.” This could require major shifts in security culture and trust within an enterprise and between technology partners.

Sectors leading the way on building management systems include hospitality, healthcare and education.

“Hotels are more willing to invest significant resources into connecting security and energy systems through BMS platforms so that guest experiences are improved,” says Dearing and IHS Research Analyst Bryan Montany. “Unlike most other end-user industries, with hotels there’s a tangible financial benefit to new ‘smart’ room features. For example, through a mobile application, hotel guests can create a guest profile to preset their room’s thermostats to their preferred temperature before they even arrive at the hotel.”

For healthcare, hospitals are driving around 70 percent of the vertical’s growth in building automation worldwide, and they’re investing in advanced VMS platforms with sophisticated analytics in separate networks to protect IT systems from cyber threats. However, hospitals are often running physical security and energy integrations on two separate BMS platforms to ensure operational continuity if one system goes down.

In education, building management adoption is limited by building type and region. In North America, major universities are buying into BMS, but primarily from an environmental stewardship standpoint.

“Universities aren’t just motivated by the long-term financial savings BMS platforms can offer,” says Dearing and Montany. “They often are encouraged to invest in more advanced BMS platforms (and multitudes of sensors collecting data across campus) so they can promote an environmentally friendly brand, which is a selling point for many students and professors.”

Are you integrating your physical security system with broader building management platforms? I’d like to hear about it! Leave a comment below with your experiences, lessons-learned and suggestions.