Think Beyond the Perimeter
Exploring the benefits of bringing the security and convenience of electronic access control to interior openings
- By Robert Gaulden
- Jun 01, 2018
Technologies continuously evolve
to become better, faster and
more efficient. In turn, users become
smarter, quicker and more
productive. Innovations are created or reimagined
to improve customer satisfaction,
either filling a void in the marketplace or
solving customers’ problems. Sometimes
users don’t even realize that void exists until
the product becomes part of daily routines—
then it’s expected to do more, leading
to another evolution.
Electronic access control is no different.
Traditionally, it was found around the building
perimeter and high-security openings,
primarily due to costs of wired access control
solutions. Today, intelligent locks are found
on interior doors for a variety of applications
that stretch beyond security.
Thinking back, when hardwired devices first
grew in popularity, the superior function was
security. Secondary was the efficiency they
offered facility personnel, especially in larger
buildings with more than 50 of employees
accessing the main doors each day. It simply
made sense to use a credential to avoid
key turnover and mange access rights. Then
employees began to experience the benefits.
With large groups entering the building at
the start of the day, entrances either needed
to be left unlocked, leaving doors vulnerable
each morning, or each person needed
to find the correct key on their keychains to
grant themselves—and potentially the small
crowd waiting while the door is manually unlocked—
access to the building. The credential
improved security and flow control with
a single swipe.
Even after electronic access control became
the norm for main entries, users didn’t
think twice about pulling out a mechanical
key to access their interior office door.
Like other technologies, access control
evolved and so have customers’ expectations.
Now that users have experienced the benefits
of electronic access control on main exterior
doors, they expect these systems to do more.
Perimeter security is an essential step to protecting
a facility and its assets. It’s one of the
first tiers of defense in a layered security approach.
With the costs of wired electronic
access control, end users were more selective
when determining which openings to secure
electronically. When it came to electronic
access control, interior doors were a nice to
have, but not a must-have. Telecommunications
and electric closets were considered
high-security areas, and they were next to the
main systems, which helped keep labor costs
low. In some cases, the human resources and
president’s office would also be wired to protect
Then wireless locks were introduced, which
significantly reduced the costs for end users.
As electronic access control became more affordable,
end users could connect more interior
openings throughout the building.
Today, the demand for electronic access
control in the interior has increased. In an office
environment, there is sensitive information
stored on laptops or at desks throughout
the facility. The need for a lock and key
is there, but now that employees have experienced
the convenience of swiping a credential,
the demand for electronic access control
in the interior went up quite a bit. As with
other technologies, now that customers adopted
these systems and reaped the benefits,
they expect them to do more. The employee
who once never questioned the mechanical
key is now swiping a credential at the front
door and wondering why he cannot use that
same card to access his office.
A similar case can be made for educational
buildings. In K-12 schools, the main
entrance and secondary entrances should
be incorporated into an access control system.
This gives the school control over their
perimeter, a critical layer in school security.
With the right hardware in place, this school
can easily lockdown the entire perimeter.
This is great, and once schools see this benefit,
they realize the same can happen inside
the building. Wireless locks can also be connected
to effectively lockdown the classroom
layer in the event of emergencies.
The demand for security and convenience
has grown, and electronic access control
is no longer just a nice to have on interior
doors. As an industry, we need to think beyond
The evolution of electronic access control reduced
costs for end users, which is actually an
advantage for integrators’ business. I’ve heard
concerns that this evolution has reduced investment
opportunities. However, it’s the opposite. While an IP architecture eliminates the need for wiring and
extra hardware, the reduced costs mean customers can expand access
control to more doors than before. They’re able to connect more doors
in the same cost parameters as one traditionally wired door.
It goes beyond upfront expenses; the ability to provide incremental
value to new and existing customers is advantageous to growing
business. Integrators are now positioned to enhance both security
and convenience for customers, which will help solidify their relationships
and expand future opportunities.
End users need a trusted partner to navigate the increasing number
of technologies available, and successful integrators will go beyond
the sale to educate and offer expert advice. In many cases, customers
have not been exposed to the multiple connectivity options in
the market. Start by educating on the different architectures available
and the target applications for each. Connectivity isn’t a one-size-fits
all application in most cases. Properties can blend the types of architecture
to reduce the overall infrastructure cost. A high-traffic opening
might need real-time communication, while interior office doors
don’t. Real-time connectivity to a wireless lock via a gateway is better
suited for openings where lockdown capabilities are needed, whereas
doors that need basic user access management may opt for Wi-Fi
connectivity. The latter isn’t real-time, but provides daily momentary
communication and access control.
Different architecture allows for greater adoption of locks on interior
doors as they can be mixed and matched to meet the needs of
each opening. What are the needs of the facility team? Do they need
real-time monitoring? Or is it more important to see who or how many
people accessed a space? It’s all about balancing the needs for security
with convenience as well as the expectation to adopt new technology.
It’s important for properties to evolve with the technologies to
keep up with market demands.
We’ve already started to experience the demand for a one-card solution.
Switching between credentials—electronic or mechanical—is
an inconvenience. Consider multifamily or mixed-use properties. Ten
years ago it wasn’t uncommon to have a key that accessed the front
door of an apartment building and other to get into the residence.
Some even had a third credential to access a parking structure. Today,
a single fob can grant access to all of these spaces. And soon, the fob
will be a thing of the past. Users will want to do everything from
their mobile device—a trend we’re already seeing grow in popularity,
especially among younger generations.
Eventually, convenience will trump security at many interior
doors. Intelligent electronic locks platforms are being used for new
applications, and this change isn’t dictated on security needs. For
example, The Juilliard School implemented a reservation system to
overcome scheduling challenges for its practice rooms. Connecting
wireless locks to its reservation module improved room utilization
and efficiencies for students.
As an industry, we need to think beyond the perimeter.
Integrators are in a prime position to guide
customers through connectivity choices to find an
optimal balance for improved user experiences.
This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Security Today.