Leveraging Technology

Leveraging Technology

Innovations will better help manage and control access

Access control advancements over the years have been notable: transitioning from keys and locksets, to cards and card readers, to the sophisticated access control management systems of today. Technological advances continue to redefine the capabilities of modern-day access control, allowing businesses and facility managers to better protect assets and maintain a high level of security. But what do those systems look like, and what system properties are necessary in order to streamline and strengthen access control management?

Modern Access Control Challenges

Enterprises of all kinds face many challenges when it comes to securing their facilities. Visitor management ranks high on that list. It can be a balancing act to provide a welcoming- and -productive work environment while also controlling who can gain access to it. There is a lot to consider: How many entry points are there? What level of security is needed at a specific location or facility, be it a school, a corporate office or an industrial site? What type of credentialing would work most effectively?

Other things to consider are: Is the access system working in conjunction with a video surveillance system? How is it being monitored? And does it need to be monitored?

More pragmatic, yet advanced, features are being built into today’s access control platforms, giving end users more choices than ever before. Regardless of a larger breadth of options, it is essential that an access system be designed with the specific needs of the business/facility/owner/end user in mind. Only then can the integrator specify the right system using the right products and capabilities.

While protecting employees and visitors is a top priority, many facilities are also tasked with protecting property and physical/digital assets. Organizations across a range of industries must secure areas, materials and equipment, while at the same time managing who is authorized to access these areas. Key loss or unauthorized duplication are real concerns for facility managers responsible for the safety and security of staff and company assets, but modern access control systems now have secure digital components in place that mitigate/reduce that risk.

Key System Components

The integrated electronic access control systems available in today’s digital world are well equipped to help companies optimize their business, improve operations, increase security and lower costs. When evaluating your organization’s needs, the following system qualities should be taken into consideration:

Ease of use. The system should be user-friendly and simple to set up/administer. The administrator and users should be able to operate it seamlessly.

Scalability. Enterprise needs change over time, and the end user’s requirements likely will, too. Access control systems should have the flexibility of scaling up or down to accommodate growing businesses and increased, or even decreased, security needs.

Affordability. Installing non-wired security options can be a fraction of the cost of installing traditional wired systems. Nonwired systems are also especially attractive for sites that are remote, are not powered or are challenging applications such as elevators and gates.

Accountability. An access control system should come complete with software that provides an audit trail of events and users who have accessed the facility to ensure full visibility and accountability.

Scalable and Affordable

The access control landscape is continually evolving, and new technologies are driving the marketplace. Here is a look at some of the newer capabilities that are elevating traditional access control:

Bluetooth enabled hardware. End users can now combine cost savings with the convenience of keyless security, thanks to Bluetooth- enabled hardware. Integrated software platforms are available that allow system web interfaces and smartphone apps to be integrated with Bluetooth-enabled security devices, including Bluetooth padlocks, lock boxes and door controllers. These solutions allow users to grant access to individuals, multiple users and user groups – temporarily or on an ongoing basis – and issue and revoke access in real time. This optimizes access control, affords greater convenience and enhances security.

For organizations with high-volume traffic, this capability is especially helpful in streamlining daily operations and tightening up security. With the right software interface, facility managers can easily monitor and access robust data and audit trails while users also enjoy the added benefit of simple- and -secure access to assigned locks or lockboxes. Software that can easily integrate with security devices eliminates the cost, complexity and security risk of physical key management and lock rework or replacement. It also allows administrators to grant and manage access for as many locks and as many users as they need.

Mobile credentialing. Innovative mobile credentialing solutions continue to hit the market, and many end users appreciate the convenience and security they provide. Today, employees and visitors can use their phones to unlock Bluetooth-enabled locks and get access to the areas and materials they need while on the go. Consequently, more organizations are moving away from the cards and fobs of the past. The cost savings are also attractive, as the need to track, replace or revoke physical cards is virtually eliminated.

With mobile credentialing, security administrators can instantly issue – or take away – a user’s credential from anywhere. They can also lock and unlock doors remotely. And, for users, they no longer need to carry a separate card or key fob or worry about losing them. From a security perspective, mobile device security can still safeguard the credential if it is lost or stolen.

Audit trails. Many of today’s electronic access control solutions provide robust data and audit trails of all those who have entered and exited a location. A perk of these audit trails is administrators can easily monitor lock access and automatically map lock and lock box locations via their smartphone, ensuring only authorized users are accessing their locations.

Encrypted technology. With audit trails and access control capabilities via smartphones, safeguarding the digital data captured is crucial. In access control applications, encryption technology is a critical component in securing the electronic access control system data, providing sophisticated data protection, security across multiples devices and the secure movement of data to keep information safe and to ensure compliance.

Benefits of Implementing Integrated Access Control Systems

An integrated access control system, built upon the advanced capabilities as outlined above, is the key to quality access control.

In addition to the near-immediate increase in property and asset security, long-term benefits can extend to improved operational efficiencies and overall cost savings, benefitting both the business and the bottom line. Through physical security assets and integrated software platforms, building and facility managers can create a safe, secure environment for all.

This article originally appeared in the January / February 2020 issue of Security Today.

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