Using Access Control Hardware for Additional Software Applications
Planning ahead can prevent harm to people and the bottom line
- By Gerald McHugh
- May 01, 2014
As access control systems have become more prevalent in business
environments, companies are looking to leverage this technology
to deliver additional solutions at less expensive costs. These
solutions may be replacing outdated, computerized systems and
manual processes, or providing a more integrated environment. The ubiquitous
nature of access control readers presents the opportunity to produce a
myriad of applications. The range of companies using access control systems
spans from small businesses, with as few as 30 employees, to much larger,
international, corporate firms.
Working with some of the more popular access control companies, QUE Accounting has delivered systems to track employee, visitor and vehicle date,
time and location. These raw time events have been used to specifically create
time and attendance, visitor management, gated community access and
resource usage systems.
In addition, QUE has provided system integration services that integrate
external systems, such as payroll and Microsoft Active Directory, with access
control to keep the different systems in synchronization.
Time and Att endance Applications
Time and attendance applications take time punches from employees and
create gross payroll hours after applying a company’s payroll work rules and
regulations. The advantage of the QUE Time and Attendance is that it works
with AC systems, using one ID card and one set of hardware readers. Generally,
a pair of readers, one “In” and one “Out” are used to emulate a time clock.
As an employee records his/her transaction, it is transmitted and stored
in the AC vendor’s database. From there, the data is extracted by QUE, on
a timely basis, and is converted to a time punch record stored in QUE. The
actual time derived from AC is not modified, but a secondary time stamp
is created for time that is adjusted by the applied work rules. These rules
include such things as rounding and evaluation of missing punches. Calculated
hours can then be transmitted to a number of payroll systems, including
those built in-house.
Since the QUE system is only limited to the number of employees and locations
that can be handled by AC systems, customers range from large dispersed
organizations, like pharmaceutical companies and school districts, to centralized
locations, such as hospitals and small, privately-owned businesses.
Other applications based on the time and attendance foundation include:
- Job costing applications that may or may not use additional AC readers.
If they do, the reader’s location is used to identify a work area, or in the
case of an assembly line environment, the time span an individual works.
The time span may be linked to a job order schedule. All employee hours
on that line at that time can be linked to a specific job order.
- Employee monitoring systems that can be as simple as determining the
whereabouts of an individual at a given moment or as complicated as tracking
an individual’s movement throughout an organization. The person’s location
can be used for plant mustering, producing a “Who’s In” report, or
immediately identify whether a person is on site. In the case of plant mustering,
additional intelligence in the QUE system is used to identify which
muster stations are linked to which employees. A quick, visual display easily
determines who has not arrived and where that person last logged.
The following outlines some practical uses of the QUE system within the
Visitor management. Although VM is similar to TNA in that it tracks
people’s activity, it usually includes a direct interface with the AC system,
creating, modifying and assigning badges to visitors. Visitor badges may
be assigned from a pool of AC IDs. As each is used, the visitor’s name is
recorded in the AC system and assigned a default access level. When the
visitor leaves the premises, the ID is returned to the pool and is then reassigned
In the case of gated communities, the system is generally used as the single
source of entry to both the AC and VM systems. As a resident is entered into
QUE, certain data is sent down to the AC system in order to create or modify
a cardholder record. This seamless integration can be done for visitors and
vehicles as well.
Usage tracking applications. The ability to track and control facility usage
is a much-needed application for some entities. A primary example is a parking
garage in which a person is tracked when they enter. These transactions
are recorded in AC and are used to determine usage for billing systems. A
large military base in Alaska uses the system for this purpose as well as using
the built-in parking lot assignment for recreational vehicles (RV).
Day care security. In order to attract clients, day care centers often need
to provide a high level of security, which usually encompasses an AC system.
The AC system not only provides facility access but also is an important repository
for information in case of an unwanted event. Having a system that
can alert parents of late arrivals and early dismissals can help alleviate the
tensions that can occur in a given day.
In addition, when children are picked up, an actual picture of a child and
parent or guardian is displayed for the clerk to do a visual authentication.
Watch lists can be created to bar unwanted visitors, such as a spouse who has
lost custody, and all transactions can be reviewed for organizational purposes.
Integration. Since we currently live in a world with disparate systems,
some integration is required for proficiency. When a new employee is hired,
for instance, typically paper work has to be sent to security so that a badge can
be created and access levels set. This process is fraught with errors and can be
QUE has developed a number of processes that integrate different systems
to remove the bottleneck. The SI applications created are executed on a scheduled
basis and include error checking and a complete audit trail for activity.
This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Security Today.
Gerald McHugh is the founder and current managing partner at QUE Accounting.