Triggers for Transition

The best times to upgrade access control technology

It can be difficult to decide whether and when to make the transition to new access control technology. Transitions are often delayed over budget concerns or because of worries that the process will adversely impact productivity and workflow. Delays can be dangerous, though, as escalating security threats place increasing pressure an obsolete access control infrastructure. It is far more effective to be proactive rather than reactive when making decisions about upgrading to new and improved technology.

At the same time, however, there are many positive reasons to embrace change. These include enhancing investment value, improving user convenience, and paving a more flexible path to future capabilities. The ability to embrace these more positive aspects of change requires an access control platform that can meet today’s requirements with the highest levels of security, convenience and interoperability, while enabling organizations to adopt future capabilities without disrupting the ongoing business operations.

These are the advantages of the latest technologies. Today’s systems enable decision-makers to preserve investments in their current infrastructure as they transition to new technologies and capabilities. Following are 10 common triggers for making the transition to new and improve access control capabilities.

Upgrading Cards

There is growing demand for combining many different access control applications on single card—and adding new ones in the future. Today’s contactless smart cards can be used for many different purposes beyond opening doors, from time and attendance to secure print management and cashless vending. Administration of these functions is centralized into one efficient and costeffective system. Organizations also can seamlessly add logical access control for network log-on to create a fully interoperable, multi-layered security solution across company networks, systems and facilities.

Going Mobile

Employees increasingly want a mobile option. Today’s access control systems also enable organizations to upgrade their systems to the convenience, flexibility and security of carrying mobile IDs on smartphones and other devices. Mobility transforms the user experience for a more convenient, trusted and secure digital world, dramatically elevating how users regard security by enabling them to confidently connect to and use more applications, on the go, than ever before, with a single, trusted ID that can be carried on a smart device.

Changing Requirements

There is a change to security requirements. An organization may be required to increase its security because there has been new legislation or regulatory requirements. Or, the organization may win a new client or acquire building tenants that necessitates an increase in security. Any of these triggers presents an opportunity to upgrade security at other locations, as well, as part of a larger upgrade to a new standardized, centralized system.

Merging Companies

Company undergoes a merger or acquisition. At some point after an M&A event, an organization will need to issue new credentials. This presents the opportunity to merge what previously were disparate administrative and other systems, technologies and processes. The investment in new technology is often comparable to the cost of integrating separate legacy systems, so this is the perfect time to migrate to a new, more secure, sophisticated and capable system.

Rapid Growth

The headaches of managing multiple cards and systems exceeds threshold of frustration. In the same way that an M&A event can trigger the need for access control system consolidation, so can a long period of rapid growth or the use of decentralized administration systems across multiple physical locations. Standardizing and centralizing management of secure identity ensures consistency, higher security and a more efficient use of resources.

New Building

There is a facility consolidation, additions or relocation. Any move or addition will generally trigger the need to issue credentials for the new location. Mass rebadging is much simpler to coordinate and manage using a single, centralized system, making it an ideal time to simultaneously re-examine access control across the entire organization.


Company re-brands and triggers a re-issuance process. Any time there is a re-branding, companies generally purchase new ID cards for current employees and enough cards to onboard new employees down the road. Forward-thinking decision-makers use this as an opportunity to simultaneously invest in new access control technology with the flexibility and advanced capabilities to carry them well into the future.

Risk Management

Risk management needs improvement. Organizations often face new, more stringent insurance requirements, or need to reduce their liabilities and associated risk-management costs. This can be done by dramatically improving security through a move from an outdated system to one that supports current standards.

Organization Authentication

There is the need to adopt strong authentication throughout the organization. Organizations may need to implement the highest levels of security including strong authentication at the door. This requires transitioning to an access control system that supports PIV, PIV-I and CIV cards, along with an easy path to compliance with government requirements, where needed.

Security Breach

Ideally, organizations should upgrade before there is a problem, but the reality is that sometimes it takes an unexpected event or security breach to move an organization to make the investment in a new access control system.

When making the jump to a new access control system, it’s important to evaluate the companion secure issuance system that will be used to produce the ID cards. Large organizations issue a staggering amount of ID cards every year.

Organizations generally choose from two major technology categories for printing and encoding cards: high definition printing (HDP) retransfer technology, and direct-to-card (DTC) technology. Ideally, a solution should also support both centralized and distributed issuance models, by combining the high-volume reliability and advanced credentialing features of larger centralized printers with the lower cost and smaller footprint of a distributed printing model.

There are other important secure issuance considerations, particularly in the areas of energy consumption, overall waste, and cost efficiency. The latest secure issuance systems are significantly more sustainable than in the past. Two key developments include “wasteless” lamination, and reducing carbon footprints as defined through the GreenCircle certification program.

With wasteless lamination, the lamination patches that are applied to cards for increased durability are attached to one another in a continuous stream of material on a single roll. This has proven to be very cost effective, reducing lamination consumables costs as much as 50 percent while maintaining the highest levels of security and durability.

GreenCircle certification recognizes the energy savings that are achievable through advancements in card lamination technologies that have reduced the significant energy required to heat up and maintain optimal operating temperature. These technologies can conserve significant amounts of energy while also saving time.

By taking advantage of these 10 common triggers for transition and implementing a more sustainable approach to secure issuance, organizations can easily and inexpensively expand and upgrade their systems to meet changing needs, take advantage of new technologies and capabilities, and produce ID cards in a more environmentally responsible manner.

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Brandon Arcment is director of product marketing at HID Global.

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