Opening New Opportunities

Opening New Opportunities

The market is wide open for cloud-based access systems

As demand for controlled access communities continues to grow, so does the demand for secure and flexible access solutions. While many communities are still using traditional telephone entry systems, where information resides on localized hardware, a cloudbased environment that allows integrators to control systems from anywhere has elevated entry access systems from a stand-alone function to an integrated security feature. Upgrading to a cloud-based entry access system can be a win-win move for all involved, with compelling benefits for both community managers and integrators alike.

The Benefits of a Cloud-Based Access Solution

Increased functionality and scalability. Keeping up with multiple requirements for gaining access in gated communities and multidwelling units can be quite complex. Managing the entry/exit of permanent and part-time residents, renters, visitors, guests, deliveries, and service providers, while satisfying basic security needs presents a significant challenge. Resident databases, including names, contact information, and most importantly access codes, change frequently.

With legacy analog technologies, databases are maintained at the entry unit itself, in some cases requiring a physical connection at the unit in order to make updates. This is often a time-consuming process for the community manager and, depending upon the location of the unit, potentially dangerous, especially in high traffic areas. Since it can be so time-consuming, many community managers tend to update their databases less frequently, which means that active access codes are available to former, unauthorized residents.

Given these challenges, community managers are turning to cloud-based entry systems.

Rather than storing resident database information solely on the unit, new connected systems will also store the database and approved access codes in the cloud. System functions, including adding, modifying and deleting users, assigning individual access levels and other vital access control actions can be performed remotely, when and where it’s convenient for the community manager. Since the data is stored in the web, the information is less likely to become corrupted or lost. Additionally, cloud-based solutions enable temporary or onetime access codes for visitors, guests and service providers, helping to prevent unauthorized sharing of codes. Plus, real-time activity tracking and the ability to monitor access 24/7 makes it easier to detect potential violators and provides the ability to more rapidly de-activate unauthorized codes.

However, it’s not just user databases that can be updated remotely. As new system functionality is introduced, software and firmware updates can also be pushed remotely. This eliminates the added expense and hassle of physically interfacing with the telephone entry system to install updates manually.

Yet another benefit associated with cloud-based systems is added customization and scalability. Cloud-based systems are typically driven by web or mobile applications. Both methods easily lend themselves to customizable user settings, such as the type of information users receive, alert messaging, reporting, dashboard views, etc. Further, these applications simplify the addition and modification of new access points, making it easier to scale as the community expands.

Value-add service for the integrator. Often times community managers elect to have their service dealer (or integrator) maintain not only the physical system itself, but also the database, access codes, etc. In such cases, all of the above benefits are also realized by the dealer. Having the ability to remotely perform these updates means fewer truck rolls to communities, a higher service level to community managers and more time to focus on prospecting new business. That’s just the beginning!

Cloud-connected systems also enable the dealer to capture and report back a greater depth of data from the community’s perimeter. For example, a host of gate operator status codes can be collected by the access control system and reported back to the dealer via alerts. This real-time status monitoring translates to faster situational awareness by the dealer, greater responsiveness to the needs of a community manager, and less downtime at access points. By responding faster to the community manager, cloud-based systems can actually help increase customer loyalty between dealers and community managers. The higher level of service that these systems deliver affords dealers the opportunity to monetize recurring monthly revenue as part of their service contracts.

Factors to Consider

Cloud-based computing has opened up a world of possibilities for security and access control, which means that security dealers will want to look to partner with best-in-class access solution providers who offer robust and scalable systems with seamless integration capabilities. Some things to consider when looking for a trusted partner include:

Ease of use. Ease of use is typically the most important factor to take into consideration when looking to implement an access control system. A reliable cloud-based access control system should provide an intuitive interface for residents as well as easy programing capabilities that allow system integrators to add or update data from anywhere. Additionally, a system that installs software updates automatically can help eliminate the need for manual downloads or installations.

Customizable. It’s important to select an access control system that aligns with a community’s needs. Providing a system that is scalable and flexible will allow users to specify the level of control they need now and easily add more access points later. The access control system should also provide robust diagnostics that can be customized to provide alerts and notifications that are relevant to the community’s needs.

Versatile. Selecting an access control system that plays nice with other security systems allows dealers to enhance a community’s safety through a seamless over-arching solution tailored to specific needs. Seamlessly integrating entry access and security solutions allows security dealers to provide a stronger and proactive service relationship with customers.

The Future of Cloud-Based Control

Access control plays a big role in how secure a community is, and the need to control access points is a fundamental part of a community’s overall security solution. Updating an outdated entry system with a cloud-based system provides a robust, full-featured access solution that delivers enhanced functionality and easy integration with other security solutions, ideal for integrators who are looking to improve and expand their service offerings.

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Security Today.

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