Access control the key to integration for businesses

November 2007 Access Control & Identity Management

An access control solution can be as simple as the use of electronic cards instead of keys to unlock a front door.

This limited functionality still retains a considerable level of value. In most cases, businesses can limit which cards are able to access the door during specific times, thus allowing all employees to have ‘keys to the shop’ without risking unwanted access to the premise.

At the other end of the spectrum is a fully integrated system, controlling multiple buildings, and which incorporates the functionality of the CCTV, fire alarm, electronic visitor management, lighting, HR information system, asset management, intrusion detection, elevator control and other systems as may be appropriate.

The benefits of a well-planned, properly specified and cost-efficient access control solution for any building or site are numerous and include:

* Protection of a facility.

* Limit access to restricted areas eg, server rooms.

* Monitoring and control of remote locations.

* Security for staff and visitors.

* Controlling and reporting on any access movement.

* Tracking and tracing people for evacuation purposes.

Besides preventing unwanted visitors and minimising risk to stock and equipment, effective access control also safeguards against costly and potentially disastrous business interruption.

In this world of technology, security systems are evolving quickly, offering more features and greater levels of integration.

Integration through the ages

In the past, true systems integration used to be the exclusive preserve of a small number of end-user companies willing to pay large amounts of money for high-level functionality. Typically, it was delivered by specialist system integrators with strong engineering teams, who had the breadth and depth of technical expertise required to bring together a range of disparate products from independent CCTV, access control and intruder manufacturers to create a fully integrated security system.

Problems encountered in matching different system control protocols led to difficulties in enabling these systems to ‘talk’ to each other. Various solutions attempted to resolve this ‘language barrier’ as system suppliers sought the key to unlocking the benefits of interoperability in that sector.

Current integration

Leading security organisations are now placing the emphasis on access control systems as the absolute integration platform. Instead of access control, intruder and CCTV systems working in near isolation from each other, they can now be networked and centrally, or remotely, monitored and controlled via an access control solution. Easy integration starts at camera systems linked into the graphical user interface of the access control software. This way, daily operations can be managed without having to switch between separate software systems. Practical examples of this include CCTV cameras that can be programmed to position themselves and record automatically if triggered by detector activation, such as a fire door being opened. The operator would see a pop-up on the screen at alarm events such as these, in addition to a live camera view or easy retrieval of historic event images with a simple click of the mouse.

At larger sites, where security staff and building managers operate from a control room, this level of integration also offers a greater level of supervisory capability to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of daily operations. Additionally, security officers can be better deployed, monitored and supported as they perform both routine site checks and specific incident response duties during out-of-hours periods such as overnight, weekends and bank holidays. Similar detector activations can lead to alarms being raised at a monitoring station located anywhere around the world.

Leveraging off an access control solution provides the ability to easily and rapidly implement new technology solutions such as smartcards, biometrics, and intelligent video into existing architectures as needs change. This, in turn, enables the following benefits:

* Streamlined employee attendance tracking process.

* Site occupancy reporting capabilities.

* Total resource intelligence.

* Smarter facilities, security and workforce management.

* Scalable network architecture accommodates new technology.

Indeed, true integration can offer far more functionality than just the security of an organisations’ people and premises; it can extend to envelop all aspects of a business including cashless vending, storing personal information, control of access to restricted areas, keeping a record of accumulated points for discount purchases and verifying authenticity.

While the level of sophistication will vary in accordance with budget and requirements, an integrated solution is within any company’s reach and is undoubtedly the new standard for any company serious about their security.

For more information contact Honeywell Security UK, www.honeywell.com/security/uk




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