Industry Trends

3 Access Control Trends to Watch

Before your next vendor meeting or tradeshow, tune into these defining trends related to door access systems

Behold the not-so-humble door. While video surveillance may get all the attention—what with the stunning sharpness of 4K, the immersive experience of panoramic sensors and see-through-the-night capabilities— for most security projects, the door access control solutions are among the most important. That’s because the door often acts as the first line of defense and actively keeps out the unwanted, while allowing easy entry for employees and visitors. It’s only fair to point out that developments are surging forward in the world of access control, making today’s solutions more secure, more interoperable and with more options than ever.

At the Security Industry Association (SIA), we track three trends that our members experience regularly when defining access control today. Those trends are the rise of cloud-based solutions, increased adoption of biometrics and the impact of standards.

As you head to your next tradeshows (likely ISC East this November in New York City and ISC West next April in Las Vegas), keep an eye out for these three trends. They can be found down every aisle, particularly since booths containing access control and biometric solutions represent roughly 40 percent of the tradeshow floor. And it’s growing by leaps and bounds—with those two categories representing double digit growth on the ISC show floor over last year.

Trend #1: Rise of Cloud Solutions

We’ve all been longtime adopters of cloud computing solutions in our personal lives, from Google Drive to Microsoft Office 365 to a Netflix account (which mostly runs on Amazon’s cloud services). Of course, adoption of the cloud for security was much slower, approached in a more cautious manner. But the gates have opened, and today, the cloud is clearly shaping access control solutions.

It’s not just about ease of use; cloud computing changes how businesses can purchase and expense their solutions. As SIA Chairman of the Board Denis Hebert noted in SIA’s 2017 Security Megatrends report for its membership, systems integrators are seeing a “substantial benefit to their customers who can move from large capital outlays for security to a monthly operating expense.”

Besides decreased hardware costs, cloud access control increases the ability for the system to scale, to be updated, and to be integrated to other platforms. For the small business owner, the benefits of a hosted, cloud-based solution can be the ability to remotely access the system from home or while traveling.

For organizations managing multiple sites, having access control managed by a single hosted solution means consistency of user rights and groups, as opposed to having to deal with myriad different and inconsistent user configurations known only by a local manager of a traditional site-installed solution—and it can mean that access rights can be ported easily for visiting and transferring employees.

Tip: When speaking with solution providers, talk through the real economics of the cloud and the advantages, but fairly compare to onpremise and appliance-style solutions.

Trend #2: Adoption of Biometrics

Thank Apple and Samsung because the use of biometrics on consumer devices like phones has helped change conversations in our industry. Today, the conversations are less likely to be “Will our employees resist?” or “Is that too expensive?” Now, the conversation centers around “How easy it is to access our office?”

Perhaps partly due to the consumer technology applications and in IT access applications (particularly healthcare and banking), biometrics is getting wider usage in professional security applications. Today, you’re seeing the technology applied to larger pools of users and to more standard business environments which do not require high-security applications.

Part of this growth has been impacted by decreasing sensor costs. According to data available from research portal Statista, mobile fingerprint sensors were expected to decrease to an average cost of $2.50 per sensor by this year, and to $2 per sensor by 2020. That decrease in technology price has helped increase consumer adoption in the form of fingerprint-enabled phones and facial-enabled laptops like the popular Microsoft Surface.

Ease of use is another reason for growth. Vendors’ products have generally improved in their accuracy—measured as the false acceptance rate (FAR) and false rejection rate (FRR), and sometimes called the false positive and false negative rates. These improving accuracy rates mean that the likelihood that a biometric sensor would not recognize you (a false rejection) has decreased, while simultaneously decreasing the likelihood that someone else might be recognized as you (a false acceptance).

Tip: While biometrics is certainly opening doors and improving throughput, one of the questions you must have within your company before deployment is how you will enroll individuals. While traditional badge access control can easily be onboard by handing out the badge and making a simple item change in the access control database, most biometrics platforms will take more effort to register users into the system.

Trend #3: The Impact of Standards

Walk the aisles of a show like ISC East or ISC West and you’ll hear plenty about end-to-end solutions, but what you should really listen for is talk of standards and interoperability in access control. At SIA, we offer the Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP), which is on an ANSI standards path. The benefit of OSDP is the increased security of communication to/from the reader as well as increased interoperability among different manufacturers. Most legacy access control systems still use the older Wiegand standard, which has weaker security. So especially when it comes to projects where security is important, the OSDP framework is preferred. Adoption has improved, greatly, with it now in use by a variety of manufacturers, including HID Global, Mercury, Cypress Integration Solutions, IDMachines and more.

Also look for the specifications of the Physical Security Interoperability Alliance (PSIA), which similarly provide specifications that allow for interoperability among access control solutions products, like readers and panels. Many vendors and SIA members have participated in this organization’s interoperability standards.

Tip: When speaking with vendors, ask them what standards they support, or which standards are in the roadmap for their products and solutions. Ask them about the value of the different standards (or protocols), and discuss with them how to ascertain the right amount of security for your environment or your customer’s environment.

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

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