Learning to think outside access control

April 2003 Access Control & Identity Management

Access control by tradition is the act of limiting entry or exit to a location. As technology advances so consumers are becoming more demanding and expect more for their money.

Until now consumers expected to receive an access control system that merely controlled their personnel in and around the company, but in today's fast paced business world it is not enough. With the cost of staff at a premium, the developed world needs to keep control of the time spent at work by each and every employee, no longer just in the manufacturing sector. What better than the access system.

All the source information collected for other reasons can snugly fit into job costing, time and motion studies, absenteeism and the like. As the Receiver of Revenue allocates travel from home to the office as 'private', so too are the factories booking time from the gate to the actual place of work as the workers personal cost.

To make a really effective system, the data captured by one system must be seamlessly used by the others. True open architecture and full integration are the watch-words of the IT department.

Natural progression

The technology has moved from PIN codes to Wiegand technology, magnetic stripe cards, voice recognition, proximity readers, read/write cards, and now biometrics as the medium granting access. In most Western countries the call was for convenience, not security. This is changing fast. Each time a terrorist bomb explodes, deep in the mind of man is the call to preserve. Now schools, hospitals, public places, busses, luxury cruise liners and any areas where many people congregate are considered easy targets, and need protection.

With this diversity of opportunity, the access systems can no longer offer just simple swipe readers for personnel. Now the specifications demand long-range readers, RF and infrared to allow vehicular traffic to flow. The latest demand is fully integrated CCTV, canteen management, payment systems, parking garage applications, even control of which plant can start up each day, monitoring when the appropriate personnel have checked in. Every application is different requiring a custom solution; the user wants all the options at his fingertips, allowing the flexibility to configure the site at will.

The industry is moving from the mindset of controlling people to controlling the whole business, from the cleaning staff to the trucks that deliver the raw materials. Everything must be monitored, measured and reported, with the option to change access parameters on the fly.

Building management

Many companies have realised that there is a huge cost saving potential from even simple building management. What information is required to effectively control the site? Access information.

When used in conjunction with an access control system the building management becomes that much more powerful. The user expects to control the site using simple triggers such as a tag being presented on an 'in' reader, to switch on the specific lights and air-conditioners used by the person, or turn on the sprinkler system for half an hour at dusk every second day. The system is really the ideal intelligent alarm system, as it can decide if movement picked up from a passive infrared in a particular location is an alarm, by checking if those persons still in the zone are entitled to be in a specific area. This coupled with intelligent CCTV monitoring is the ultimate security system. So the conventional access control system has evolved into a powerful asset, performing functions that where previously left to specialised building management systems designed to only manage and monitor HVAC equipment.

The integrated era

As business becomes more of a cutthroat mad rush and the global village grows to be more of a reality, companies are turning to enterprising resource package (ERP) products such as SAP to ensure the day-to-day running of the company is as widespread as possible. These products gather information from all aspects of the business and use it to compile reports and make purchase decisions.

It is impossible to expect an access control system to perform the functions of an ERP, however, it is essential that it seamlessly integrates with it, inputting and extracting vital information. This eliminates the need to run numerous reports from different programs and makes the system that much more effective.

As a result of this ability to integrate the access control system now becomes a tool to enhance the power of an ERP system. For example, if an employee is suspended, the human resource module of the ERP will flag the access control system, which in turn will deny access to the site. The moment the suspension is lifted on the ERP the access control system will automatically allow access to the respective areas again.

What is to come?

The future is an exciting prospect with endless options and possibilities but one thing is certain, business will become more demanding and far more competitive. In order to ensure your company is performing at its peak, you need to surround yourself with people and products that are efficient and exceed expectation.

Modern day access control systems can no longer afford to simply monitor employees as they move through the company. Instead they need to be a dynamic management tool capable of streamlining everyday workplace scenarios.

For more information contact Barry East, Impro Technologies, 011 476 9186.

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