A reader alone doesn’t cut it anymore

November 2015 Access Control & Identity Management

Access and identity management readers, be they card, fob, biometric, PIN or anything else, have one thing in common, they do one job. In today’s world of integration, the reader needs to expand its scope of operation and integrate other areas of the business into its function, or itself into their functions. Whether it is supporting surveillance with onboard cameras, linking to HR or payroll to send specific messages to staff or clients as they enter, or any other functionality, readers are required to do more than control entrance and exit.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked ZKTeco and Suprema how the functionality of readers is expanding and what is available.

Hendrik Combrinck, MD of ZKTeco South Africa says that in today’s market, each business needs to make conscious decisions on the technology they will implement to make sure they get the most out of their purchase. Most companies opt more for a product that has a dual purpose so they can save on the full solution price. The functionalities are normally broken up into two distinct flavours: one side is looking for a hardware that encourages the user to interact more with the device, and the other side is looking to minimise the interaction between user and device.

With this in mind, he says ZKTeco is flexible with its devices’ firmware as this encourages integrators to be more creative when it comes to the end user’s needs. “We provide the normal run of the mill device that can either do fingerprint, RFID, PIN and facial recognition, but we also specialise with some clients in combining a bigger screen device with a specialised firmware that can do numerous functions, including vacation applications, job and site costing, site requisition applications (so users can order needed equipment and supplies for the site) and meal ordering to name but a few. We also have a lot of clients that integrate our terminals with payroll and ERP systems.”

ZKTeco has its own SDKs that integrators and developers can use to directly integrate its technology into their offerings.

“Gone are the days where readers or even identity systems operate on their own, especially in the current economic environment,” says Walter Rautenbach, head of Suprema SA and neaMetrics. “End users need to motivate how the technology will make a difference and it makes sense that you use identification technology, for example, for T&A and not only for granting access.

“Time and attendance is however a very vague term and is the mere building block for more sophisticated systems such as integrated HR and payroll systems as well as workforce management. Since the data is already there, it makes sense to calculate working hours and to use it for more effective operational workforce management such as knowing who is onsite, if the staff complement is satisfying contractual SLAs and even to incorporate it into evacuation procedures.”

He continues that beyond T&A, data generated can be used as sensors into external systems, such as CCTV, to add intelligence to the ‘big data’ produced, and to incorporate searchable identities into these systems, which never before incorporated personal identities.

“The usefulness and accuracy of this identity data is dependent on the type of modality used, and biometrics produces the most undisputed information. But if you think of it, even with card, PIN or fob readers integrated into video management systems, it enables forensic search capabilities which can be used to see if the holder of this particular token is really the person that it was assigned to.”

He adds that the Suprema offering includes an array of integrations and integration services that focus on creating end-user value and a significant part of its product sales are via specialised custom solutions.

“To achieve this, neaMetrics, as the distributor of Suprema in southern Africa, offers a team of expert software engineers to assist companies in providing custom solutions to integrate Suprema technology into their solutions. This expert input assists with planning the integration of Suprema into these solutions beforehand and fast tracks speed to market. These services are provided locally, enabling real-time communication and advice relevant to the African market and includes local manufacturers and providers such as Impro, Saflec, Accsys Peopleware and Jarrison Time.”

All Suprema terminals operate via TCP/IP architecture, while still offering RS-485, RS-232 and Wiegand. The new BioStar 2 device firmware set also supports Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) to enable easy integration with other access control manufacturers.

Expanded product examples

Combrinck explains that in ZKTeco’s case, most of its advanced capabilities deal with user interaction with the product, for example, different user menus for different features. “Most interactions we integrate are messaging, keyboard inputs, voice commands, touch screen interaction and different reader inputs like barcode scanners, card readers, long range scanners and even inputs from weighbridges and other smaller scales for the agricultural market.”

He adds that the ZKTeco future will be built on hardware that will support big data and IoT (Internet of things). “This includes interaction with social media, your cell phone and even your PABX system directly.”

Suprema has a collection of 11 terminals, offering biometrics, that includes fingerprints and facial recognition, as well as card/PIN only options. These terminals can all be managed under the same platform to give end-users freedom to build their access control or time management platform according to their needs and budget. The variation of devices includes functionality such as integrated video phone, touch or tactile user interface, portrait logging, voice instruction, IP65 outdoor ratings, IK08 vandal-resistant ratings, PoE and Wi-Fi.

“Over and above Suprema’s BioStar platform, the company is integrated into an excess of 20 internationally recognised access control manufacturers, including names such as Software House, Gallagher, Lenel, Honeywell, Avigilon and Paxton to name a few,” Rautenbach adds. “Time management and payroll integration offers integration into over 30 systems, including well-known names such as SAP, VIP and Pastel through solution providers such as Accsys (BCX) Peopleware and Jarrison Time.”

He concludes, “Although already used excessively, ‘Integration’ is still an important keyword that signifies the latest trends in technology. Evolution in the field of mobile, Internet of Things and cloud computing, as well as the integration of these technologies have led to a shift towards a new technology paradigm.”


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