The Future For Access Control Technologies
Access control is becoming an increasingly critical system for many organisations. A well designed and installed access control system will not only protect a building and its occupants but can also enhance other aspects including energy management.
Overall, the system provides multiple layers of security throughout the building based on the use of credentials. These provide the authorisations assigned to individuals using access cards or key fobs which are registered within an access control software management package. With the right credentials, the holder can enter and exit specific areas at prescribed times and following required sequences of events.
The other principal components within an access control system include card readers and door controllers.
Card readers are the wall mounted units that are used to read access control cards, key fobs and even smart phones. They are generally mounted onto the wall by the door to which they are assigned within the management software.
Door controllers vary in the number of doors they can control and how many of these can be networked together to cover a building area. The Remsdaq access controller range includes 2, 8, 16 and 32 door controllers that can be coupled up to provide access control to several thousand doors over a single or multiple sites.
Why Is Access Control Increasing in Importance?
Physical security and access control are increasing in importance to a wider range of buildings. There are several factors for this which principally relate to increasing threat profiles and a need to make buildings more intelligent in their use of energy.
From a threat point of view, there is a greater need to protect buildings and their occupants from terrorist actions, assaults, equipment theft and malicious damage. From an energy management point of view, electricity and gas costs continue to rise, giving the need to reduce energy usage and improve overall energy efficiency. This is linked to the number of occupants within a building, the areas they are using, and the duration they are there.
These are reasons for the increased priority to install intelligent access control systems such as those manufactured by companies like Remsdaq. Systems that are easy to configure and operate, offering seamless access only to approved personnel along with strong physical measures provide the levels of protection required to prevent unwanted intruders.
Technological Security System Developments
Integration is the current buzz word for the access control industry. This is part of a general trend for added intelligence in building systems along with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and need to manage and control a range of traditionally separate systems. Examples would include integrating access control, time and attendance, CCTV surveillance, building management, energy management, lighting, heating ventilation and air conditioning.
One of the ways in which Remsdaq leads the field is in its use of the BACnet communications protocol within its access controllers. BACnet is a data communications protocol for Building Automation and Control (BAC) which was developed by ASHRAE (https://www.ashrae.org/) and is now an ISO 16484-5 global standard. Remsdaq was one of the first companies in the world to sign up as a BACnet vendor. Utilising this protocol within its access controllers provides opportunities for direct integration within building and energy management systems.
Other developments include:
- Biometric Readers: these use human body characteristics in place of cards or fobs and can provide a higher level of security. Biometric readers can be used to read fingerprints (known as fingerprint readers), facial features, iris and even vein identification. Some readers may use a combination of biometric methods. Today fingerprint recognition is the most common biometric access method and Remsdaq controllers can be supplied with biometric readers. The use of biometric readers can be more useful in environments where carrying an access card or key fob ID is not practical (e.g. contaminated and/or restricted areas). Examples would include power generation plants, mines, oil rigs and hospital environments. Biometric readers are also more fraud resistant.
- Smart Phones and Bracelets: these can provide an easier way to provide tokens for access via email and/or a smart phone app downloaded from an App store. Some companies like Apple are testing the use of Smart Phones for student access to their accommodations on campuses using their latest iOS. There are issues in terms of whether employees would want to use their personal phones for company access which can also lead to tracking. Where a person wants to use their smart phone, it may be possible and more practical to use a smart-tag onto the back of the phone. These use Near Field Communications (NFC) and have the advantage that when one tries to remove the tag it becomes unusable as internal circuits are designed to break on tamper.
- Multiple Device Management: when there is a need to access multiple venues (whether work or home related) it can be more efficient to operate a single security system. MIFARE type cards can hold multiple security system details providing the user with a single ID card with which to access multiple areas.
Over time, smart phone and access control technologies may well develop to a point that they merge and traditional access cards using MIFARE technology become a thing of the past. What is more likely, thanks to access control system integration, is that more intelligent platforms use additional data to provide greater levels of security and monitoring. Integrated systems can not only provide improved energy efficiency by only powering up, heating (or cooling) those buildings areas that are populated but they can also provide greater personal security, issuing alerts when there is a need to in the case of fire alerts, missing persons or unauthorised access.