Access Control in the Midst of an IP Revolution

Given the prevalence of IP-enabled devices in video surveillance today, it is reasonable to surmise the adoption of network technology will follow a similar path in access control. However, the pace of innovation in the access control market tends to be much slower than the rest of the physical security industry. Access control systems—including panels, software, readers and other peripheral devices—can be highly proprietary and embedded within the organizations they serve, which may make it difficult to integrate with other systems.

The demand for IP-centric access control systems and a trend toward more ‘open’ solutions are having a distinct effect on the market. End users now realize the tremendous cost savings by implementing an IP-based access control system in which devices, such as door sensors and card/badge readers, connect directly to the network and work well with other systems.

One of the biggest reasons why more users are making the transition to a IP is because of advancements in locking technology, specifically with online and wireless locks. Online locks provide end users with various types of advanced functionality, such as remote system management and administration, and automatic alerts following alarm events. With access points becoming another piece of data to be analyzed in the evolving ‘Internet of Things’ technology landscape, the benefits of online locks are significant. Locks can be either wired or wireless depending on the need of the application or the user, increasing flexibility and return-on-investment (ROI). In places where running wire may be cost-prohibitive or where time is a crucial factor, wireless locks are a great alternative.

In addition to the evolution in technologies, however, there are also significant changes in the industry overall. IT departments are increasingly being tasked with making decisions about the security technology solutions being purchased, as well as how these devices will be implemented throughout the organization. According to a recent report from IHS, IT integrators and IT departments will play an increasingly large role in physical security deployments. And since access control can help flag anomalies in behavior, it too will be a critical component for helping IT departments protect physical and digital assets.

IT will continue to drive the industry towards tighter integrations between access control and other systems on the network. This applies not only to other security systems, but to building management systems and human resources software platforms, for example. Access control vendors will need to embrace open standards and ideas to ensure long-term scalability.

What if you could take an access control database and integrate it with other open software solutions, such as an event management system, so that users could not only use it for ingress and egress within a facility but also reserve a conference room for a designated time slot? That and other types of advanced capabilities are achievable today for those willing to think outside the box.

The access control market is and will continue to become more IP-based in the years to come. As businesses look to adapt their access control solutions to fit this, they will look closely at these new developments so as to not be left behind.

This article originally appeared in the August 2015 issue of Security Today.

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