Access control beyond the door

Access & Identity Management Handbook 2017 Access Control & Identity Management, Products

To most people, access control means something you attach to a door or a gate. There are, however, other areas where access control is beneficial.

Take a utility box at the side of a road, whether it is used for electricity or telecommunications is irrelevant. What is relevant is that access to these boxes is fairly simple to allow for easy and fast access by technicians. However, this is also why it is so easy for criminals to sabotage Telkom communications or hook up illegal electricity cables. To implement access controls in these situations has been difficult in the past because there could be any number of technicians sent to work on a box, and if an access card or PIN was compromised, anyone would be allowed to gain access.

VixNet is a technology company with a long history of developing communications solutions for the security industry. The company recently came up with a new access solution that takes its communications expertise and combines it with access control. SACU is a solution from VixNet that targets these public enclosures, including electricity meters and distribution enclosures, substation entrance doors, mini-sub access doors, street lighting control panels and so forth.

SACU makes use of VixNet’s RF communications networks in Gauteng and the greater Cape Town region, based on direct-sequence spread spectrum (DSSS) technology. The DSSS system provides bidirectional communications and does away with the need to manage SIM cards. More importantly, it is designed to be jamming resistant and triangulation techniques provide positioning that is accurate to within 4 metres.

To control access to enclosures with SACU, companies can attach electronic access controlled locks to the doors they wish to protect. The locks are linked to a central command server over VixNet’s network where a central command station controls who has access and at what times. Technicians working in the area permanently could be given 24x7 access, or individuals could be assigned to specific jobs, with only the appointed technician being granted access for a specified time.

When the individual arrives at the enclosure, they present their access card to the reader. The system then communicates to the central station where the server will decide if that person is allowed access at that particular time. If he/she is, then the door is unlocked; if not, the door stays locked. Should the enclosure have a rear door, permission to open this is granted if appropriate once the person has badged in.

All these events are logged on the server to keep an accurate record of who was involved on which jobs at what locations. The reader itself will also keep a list of past access events in memory, replacing the oldest events with the latest.

Not only does SACU permit access to these enclosures, it is also able to send a warning if a door has been left open. SACU includes other monitoring functions, such as built-in temperature monitoring and shock detection. Accurate positioning through triangulation via VixNet’s towers, and an audible alarm is also on the reader. In case of a power failure, a battery, charger and monitor is also included to ensure authorised people have access in any circumstances.

SACU takes traditional access control and gives it a new, remote controlled role for use in cabinets and enclosures that are of necessity located in open, public areas, but still need to be protected from unauthorised access. Utilities can now protect their electronics more easily while keeping exact records of who was where and what they were doing.

For more information, contact VixNet, +27 (0)11 100 1969,,

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