Integration and intelligence

Access & Identity Management Handbook 2021 Access Control & Identity Management

The importance of data in today’s world has become a cliché. From data being the ‘lifeblood’ or ‘crown jewels’ of the organisation, through to how we now live in an age where data is currency, we’ve heard all the hype and promises associated with being able to collect and analyse large amounts of data. We have also been hearing about the benefits of integrated security systems for many years and how integration adds value.

While these phrases may have been used to death, these sayings are truer than ever today and organisations in almost every vertical and of every size can optimise their operations and profits through the intelligent use of data. One example commonly used today is in the retail environment where security solutions also provide data to optimise advertising, staffing and footfall. But is this true in the access control segment?

Access control has always been more of a standalone exercise in the physical security industry, making integrating data to and from other sources complex. However, companies today are looking for more effective solutions, managed from common platforms to manage buildings and campuses in their entirety.

“In the modern world, everything talks to everything else,” says Gary Chalmers, CEO of iPulse. “This is the vision of the IoT (Internet of Things), also known to many as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Security is no different. To stay relevant, it needs to move with the times and be able to integrate with a wide range of solutions that are not necessarily security related.

“I think where many security companies have gone wrong is that they – like everyone else – seek to be the single point of truth. This is not the future. This is old-fashioned thinking that will ultimately bring their downfall. IoT relies on many systems being able to talk to many other systems, and for the ability to drop in a new feature or function simply and easily through secure APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). This is the basis of a true cloud system, like the iPulse platform, which can integrate with other products in hours when required.”

Defining the value

Chalmers continues that the integration of products delivers data, or to use the common buzzwords, ‘big data’. The critical aspect of big data is that we can now combine and analyse this data in ways we could not before, assisted by more capable hardware and better analytical engines boosted by developments in artificial intelligence, providing unique insights into a facility or premises and the people who work there.

“Identifying usage patterns for employees can provide square-metre savings, not to mention huge reductions in air-conditioning bills, and so on,” specifies Chalmers. “Identifying visitor patterns for certain businesses can help reduce costs, or make sure that there are enough people to help them at peak times. Using AI, or machine learning, people can even see breaks in patterns that could indicate a potential security breach, such as unexpected behaviour. An example would be a midnight entry for someone who typically only comes in during the day, even though they have the permission to access at any time.”

Of course, getting to the stage where a company can take advantage of this data is not always simple. Those stuck with legacy systems which were not designed to integrate and/or share data outside of the system or even the vendor’s products will find the integration a challenge.

“It is my belief that major upsets are coming in the security industry as the large incumbent players are struggling to move with the times,” Chalmers warns. “This is not due to a lack of desire, it’s simply the ‘Titanic Principle’ – the ship is too big to turn. For many large players, backwards compatibility in a massive installed base is an anchor that holds them back from true growth, and ironically, it is the very same customers that hold them back who will ultimately throw them out for new technology.”

An IoT solution

Referring to iPulse’s, he says the system is designed to be an IoT solution. “We integrate into multiple other systems and allow multiple other systems to integrate into us. iPulse sees itself as a data company, which provides access control or workforce management as a by-product of secure identity management. Typically, this has resulted in huge benefits for our clients who get to use our product to achieve many different things, such as planning their workforce based on expected visitor flows, or scheduling additional drivers on the fly because some people did not arrive for work.

“Using an existing ticketing system to authorise access for visitors on is just a few button clicks away, and products like PowerBI from Microsoft allow for data to be seen and interpreted into crystal clear images that provide live, up-to-date information to management. This information makes it simpler for management to actively make the hundreds of tiny corrections that a business requires to operate every day.”

While data overload is a reality for many companies and people, making use of the data to obtain intelligence can also be a reality with the right tools and the right approach. The information learned from the analysis can be applied to current and future business operations and will impact revenues and profits, and most importantly, the service delivery.

Access and identity data forms only one part of the data needed to achieve these changes, but by its nature, this information can provide crucial insights that impact on multiple areas of a business. However, if the access and identity system used does not support integration and data sharing, a critical part of the data pool to be analysed is missing, which will subsequently affect the overall intelligence gathering process. The key is to use a system built by a company that understands the importance of its data and makes it simple to obtain the data securely, in a standard format, for analysis instead of trying to keep customers locked in.


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