ControlSoft has released an enhanced version of the KeyMaster Pro access control and building monitoring system. The company says KeyMaster Pro 3.1 addresses customer-specific requirements and development opportunities that have been identified since the release of version 3.0 just over 18 months ago. The new version offers a host of additional features, including offline capability, more flexible database integration and site-wide data synchronisation. Multilingual support has been included to boost market prospects in Europe, where KeyMaster Pro is already gaining ground against competitors.
Possibly the most interesting new feature is the KeyMaster Pro Offline Manager which was demonstrated at the recent Securex 2000 exhibition in Johannesburg. The Offline Manager is a separate application that interfaces with the KeyMaster Pro database to construct a subset of data for offline access control. This data is downloaded to system controllers while the system is online. Newly developed firmware enables ControlSoft system controllers to 'fall back' automatically to offline mode if they lose communication with the PC running KeyMaster Pro. In offline mode, the system controller makes access control decisions based on the locally stored hardware configuration and tag permissions data. Controllers also log all transactions processed in offline mode. When the connection between the PC and the controller is restored, the Offline Manager retrieves offline logs from the controllers and uploads transactions to the central KeyMaster Pro database.
Optimised for NT
According to ControlSoft software architect Johan Snyman, KeyMaster Pro 3.1 and its companion applications are optimised to run under Windows NT. "We are phasing out support for Windows 95 and 98, as these operating system do not provide the same level of stability and security as we can achieve with Windows NT and Windows 2000."
New database technology
Enhancements to the database architecture and reporting functionality have contributed to significant performance gains. Snyman explains: "We have employed new technologies such as OLE DB and ADO to provide a transparent interface to all major database management systems, including Oracle, Informix, SQL Server and Access." This architecture gives users the flexibility to run access control event logs and system event logs on the database platform of their choice.
KeyMaster Pro ships with Microsoft Data Engine (MSDE), a free SQL server compatible database engine that can support up to four KeyMaster Pro client workstations. At larger sites, installers can maximise database performance by using Microsoft SQL server.
ControlSoft's new Database Synchroniser uses MSDE to enable site-wide access control and reporting across multiple KeyMaster Pro systems. When employee or visitor data is changed on one system, the Database Synchroniser seamlessly updates all the other systems without user intervention.
Companion applications enhanced
KeyMaster Pro's standalone reporting suite (first released with version 3.0) has been repackaged as ControlSoft Reportoire. With Reportoire, users can generate summary and detailed reports without running the main KeyMaster Pro application. Reporting functionality has been extended to include powerful location reports.
The ControlSoft KeySmith database administration tools have been enhanced to allow importing of employee data from various common data sources. When data is imported, KeySmith automatically checks for duplicate entries.
FrontDesk (the visitor and employee manager for frontline staff) has been leap-frogged from version 1.0 to version 3.1 to get it in step with the latest release of KeyMaster Pro. FrontDesk now allows operators to specify the period for which a visitor tag is valid. Captured images can be cropped to any size or aspect ratio. Users have more flexible control of label printing: multiple labels can be printed on the same page and you can specify the positioning of a label on a page. There is tighter integration with KeyMaster Pro's new site-wide data synchronisation technology. FrontDesk 3.1 can also be used as a standalone product to replace the trusted visitor register with a more technologically sophisticated and user-friendly alternative.
Authorised personnel can now use client workstations to reset low-level system components such as the Control Manager, Permission Manager, I/O Processor and Extension Manager.
More powerful event/action processing makes it possible to define 'startup actions' that restore KeyMaster Pro to the correct state after a system reboot. Version 3.1 also allows users to optimise response times and balance data load on the CS-NET hardware network by changing the update interval for I/O images stored on individual system controllers.
Users can set up complex access protocols for high security areas by configuring KeyMaster Pro to require up to five swipe actions in a specific sequence before allowing access at a reader. The new random search facility enables 'stop and search' procedures to be defined for any reader.
Another innovation in KeyMaster Pro 3.1 is the concept of memory-based I/O. Virtual inputs and outputs can be configured to behave like physical I/O points, making it easier to set up realtime animated graphics and complex control algorithms.
With support for selective logging of transactions at time and attendance readers, KeyMaster Pro administrators can control where specific employees or groups clock in and out. In an industrial environment, factory workers can clock in at the main entrance, while administrative workers clock in when they enter the office building.
Multilanguage support has been introduced across the KeyMaster Pro range. Using the ControlSoft Universal Translator, installers can customise KeyMaster Pro, FrontDesk and Reportoire to provide an interface in any of the major European languages. ControlSoft's Johannesburg-based developers successfully tested the Universal Translator by translating the entire KeyMaster Pro product suite into Afrikaans.
The multilingual functionality is fully integrated with KeyMaster Pro's user-level interface customisation. When a user logs on, the KeyMaster Pro interface is presented in the language of the user's choice. This feature is also useful to installers who support customers in various countries. For example, an English-speaking support engineer can troubleshoot a German-language version of KeyMaster Pro by setting himself up as a user and selecting English as his language of preference.
According to Managing Director Russell Wagstaff, ControlSoft is 'decentralising the translation project' by involving installers and end users. "Customers who wish to translate KeyMaster Pro can apply at our web site and download the ControlSoft Universal Translator free of charge. We provide the necessary tools and manage the process of incorporating new language databases. But we rely on the language skills of experienced security professionals who know local requirements and industry terminology."
Wagstaff says the functional enhancements will certainly be welcomed by customers, "but it is the multilingual features that will contribute most to the expansion of our market. With multilanguage support in place, we are in a strong position to pursue opportunities in Europe, where KeyMaster Pro is gaining ground rapidly."
For details contact Russell Wagstaff, Managing Director of ControlSoft on telephone: (011) 477 4760, fax: (011) 477 5789 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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