Access control cards/ tags/ fobs - Expert commentary

Automatic gates: Making the right investment for access control
Automatic gates: Making the right investment for access control

The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has made us all more conscious of who is coming and going from our property. Whether it is a family home, business premises or public building, property owners want full control over access for protection and peace of mind. As a provider of access control technologies, we are seeing a growing demand for automated gates with a variety of access control systems. There are a number of considerations that buyers need to make when investing. And as an installer, there is advice that you can offer to help your clients make the right choice for their property. Here are some of the key considerations you’ll need to make and discuss with your client. Whomever you buy from, you should be offered more than a simple instruction manual. Electronic locks, magnetic locks and code security In the first instance, you’ll need to advise on the type of lock and access control available. Electronic locks release on the operation of the automation system to allow the gates to open. Locks are required for all non-locking (also known as reversible) operators and are recommended for any gate on a multi-user site or any gate over 2.5m. Apply the same logic to an automated gate as you would to a domestic door – for example, you wouldn’t fit your front door with a lock on the same side as the hinges or a drop bolt at the hinge end of a manual gate so why dispense with this logic when the gate is automated? Electronic locks release on the operation of the automation system to allow the gates to open There are a number of locks on the market including magnetic locks, drop locks that “shoot” a bolt into the ground and side latching locks. These are all designed for external use. While the gate itself will provide physical security, the customer will want to feel in control of who enters their property, when and for what purpose. Consider access for post and deliveries, waste disposal and visitors arriving on foot etc. There is a range of options available. Intercom systems will allow the user to vet visitors, keypad entry can allow remote access for visitors with a specific code, remote controls allow an oncoming driver to open the gates without getting out of the vehicle, and a timer control can be used to open or close the gates at certain times of the day. Vehicle detection loops can be installed discreetly under the tarmac allowing the presence of vehicles to exit the gates and prevent closing whilst obstructed. Sliding gates versus swinging gates There are a number of locks on the market including magnetic locks, drop locks that “shoot” a bolt into the ground and side latching locks Gates can be automated to either swing or to slide open and in the case of swinging gates, the opener may be concealed underground or gate mounted. The most suitable opener for your installation will depend on the space available and the type of gate selected. Concealed underground automation is ideal for highly ornate gates. However, where gates are fully infilled (typical of many timber designs), gate mounted openers are concealed from the front of the gate by the gate leaf and present a cost-effective option. The choice between slide and swing is largely down to space - swing gates require a clear space for their opening arc whilst sliding gates require space to one or both sides of the gate. Sliding gates are perhaps the best choice where the drive slopes or when drive space is limited, as they use the least space when opening. Voltage Most swing gate and sliding systems are available in 24v or 230v. The 24v systems still need 230v mains power – there is a transformer built into the 24v control panels. Deciding which voltage to use can include a combination of factors such as the material of the gates, the location of the system and the safety features you want. Concealed underground automation is ideal for highly ornate gates With wrought iron gates, the wind can pass through them whereas with fully boarded wooden gates (popular because they give full privacy) the wind has nowhere to go, so they act like sails. For commercial or industrial applications with larger entrances and a heavy gate, you may need 3 Phase 400v power (sliding gates only). Installing gate motors in confined spaces The environment in which you are fitting may well influence which gate and motor you recommend. Will it be in an exposed area which is subject to the elements? Will it be positioned on a slope? Sliding gates are perhaps the best choice where the drive slopes or when drive space is limited Installers have always faced the challenge of installing gate motors in confined spaces. When fitting a pedestrian gate, there is often limited space in which to work – potentially making an installation time consuming and technically demanding. If this is the case for you, consider a gate operator which is designed specifically for installations with limited space for manoeuvre. An example of this is the E5 compact gate operator. The operator is not only small but has an optional slide lever attachment designed for installations where there is extremely limited space, meaning that just 8cm of the pillar is needed for installation. What’s more, improved fixing points and a simple ‘hook and fasten’ process means assembly is safe, quick and straight forward. Ultimately, you’ll be looking for a good quality, reliable product with good service. Work with a supplier that offers more than just a manual. If they are happy to offer training, their time and advice when you buy, the chances are you’ll get their support long term.

4 ways to keep your workplace protected from COVID-19
4 ways to keep your workplace protected from COVID-19

The unprecedented global impact of COVID-19 has taken its toll on all of us, but as cases of the virus thankfully recede, employers are now forced to confront how they can enable a safe return to work for employees. For many employers, this means they will have to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, redesign workspaces to maintain social distances, carry out more frequent cleaning, manage the transmission risk and find alternatives to touch-based security devices. Protecting workplace occupants in any emergency requires preparation and clear communication. This is especially critical in a health crisis involving an infectious disease. These are some of the essential best practices that could help organisations reduce the impact on their employees and operations during this pandemic. 1. Use a visitor management system With a visitor management system, organisations have a single source of real-time and historical insights into who is, or was recently, in the workplace. This is especially important because of the need to perform contact tracing should anyone in the organisation show symptoms of COVID-19, meaning everyone they have been in contact with needs to be contacted and asked to isolate. Yet still, first impressions are made at the front desk or lobby, where the visitor experience needs to be a positive one. At the same time, though, any emergency event requires that there be strict control over who is entering the workplace. This policy also needs to be clearly communicated to visitors. Doing this minimises risk to visitors as well as the workforce. In addition to delivering a high-quality visitor experience, the ideal visitor management system must: Enable organisations to meet regulatory compliance mandates and facilitate check-in at a self-service kiosk to minimise wait times. Customise the visitor experience to support specific security needs, such as accelerating and simplifying check-in or requiring additional security pre-checks. Automate compliance as it relates to visitor access rules with historical visit reports. 2. Pre-check questions at visitor registration kiosks Organisations can strengthen security at the registration kiosk using a flexible, enterprise-grade visitor management system to add visitor sign-in steps. This has proven successful in the past when used to control the spread of infectious disease during an outbreak. An example of this is a U.S. children's hospital which managed to reduce facility infection rates by 25 percent over a two-year period using a commercial, off-the-shelf physical identity and access management (PIAM) solution from HID Global. The solution provides two particularly important capabilities that can be used by organisations to protect their workplace from the uncontrolled spread of an infectious disease: Enhance visitor registration policy with additional mandatory questions to help identify any visitors who may need other screenings. Extend the visitor registration kiosk with a mandatory pop-up asking further questions during visitor check-in. 3. Understand who has visited your workplace Successful controlling the spread of infection throughout a facility requires the ability to automatically maintain an auditable trail of activity. This can be done using an enterprise-grade visitor management system that makes it easy to retrieve historical visit reports. This provides a timeline of who was in the workplace, and when they were there. Key features include: A single dashboard providing useful visitor insights at your fingertips. Historical reports that provide visitor details including location and contact information, all in compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other privacy regulations. 4. Clearly communicate how infection risks can be reduced Global organisations must actively communicate with visitors and employees on the outbreak of infectious diseases and follow best practices outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO). Here are several things organisations can do in this area to help maintain a safe and healthy workplace: Re-enforce and communicate WHO best practices with guideline posters in the front lobby and throughout the workplace. Add posters that also encourage regular and thorough washing of hands. Encourage everyone to cough or sneese into their shirt sleeve in their flexed elbow or cover their mouth and nose with a tissue. Encourage everyone to keep a relatively safe distance from each other and use alternatives to handshakes when saying hello. Organisations must contend with a variety of workplace challenges during the outbreak of an infectious disease. These challenges can be solved with best practices that include a comprehensive visitor management system that automates critical check-in policies and maintains an auditable trail of visitor activity.  

The growth of the mobile access card market in 2020
The growth of the mobile access card market in 2020

The emergence of smartphones using iOS and Android is rapidly changing the landscape of the IT industry around the world. Several industries, such as digital cameras, car navigation, MP3, and PNP, have been replaced by equivalent or even better performance using smartphones. Smartphones provide increasing portability by integrating the functions of various devices into a single unit which allows them to connect to platforms with network-based services and offer new services and conveniences that have never been experienced before. These changes have expanded into the access control market. Although not yet widespread, ‘Mobile access cards’ is one of the terminologies that everyone has been talking about. RF cards used for access security are being integrated into smartphones just as digital cameras and MP3s were in the past. While people might forget their access cards at home in the morning, they seldom forget their smartphones. Using smartphones for access control increases entry access reliability and convenience. Mobile/smartphone access control A key aspect of mobile credential is that it makes it possible to issue or reclaim cards without face-to-face interaction As in other markets, the combination of smartphones and access cards is creating a new value that goes beyond the simple convenience of integration enhancing the ability to prevent unauthorized authentication and entrance. People sometimes lend their access cards to others, but it is far less likely they might lend their smartphone with all their financial information and personal information – to another person. This overcomes an important fundamental weakness of RF cards. Another valuable aspect of mobile credential is that it makes it possible to issue or reclaim cards without face-to-face interaction. Under existing access security systems, cards must be issued in person. Since card issuance implies access rights, the recipient’s identification must be confirmed first before enabling the card and once the card has been issued, it cannot be retracted without another separate face-to-face interaction. Mobile access cards In contrast, mobile access cards are designed to transfer authority safely to the user's smartphone based on TLS. In this way, credentials can be safely managed with authenticated users without face-to-face interaction. Mobile cards can be used not only at the sites with a large number of visitors or when managing access for an unspecified number of visitors, but also at the places like shared offices, kitchens and gyms, currently used as smart access control systems in shared economy markets. The market share of mobile access cards today is low even though the capability can offer real benefits to users and markets. While the access control market itself is slow-moving, there are also practical problems that limit the adoption of new technologies like mobile access cards. Use of Bluetooth Low Energy technology While NFC could be an important technology for mobile credential that is available today on virtually all smartphones, differences in implementation and data handling processes from various vendors prevents universal deployment of a single solution to all devices currently on the market. Accordingly, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) has been considered as an alternative to NFC. Bluetooth is a technology that has been applied to smartphones for a long time, and its usage and interface are unified, so there are no compatibility problems. However, speed becomes the main problem. The authentication speed of BLE mobile access card products provided by major companies is slower than that of existing cards. Enhancing credential authentication speed Authentication speed is being continuously improved using BLE's GAP layer and GATT layers The second problem is that mobile access cards must be accompanied by a supply of compatible card readers. In order to use mobile access cards, readers need to be updated but this is not a simple task in the access control market. For 13.56 MHz smart cards (which were designed to replace 125 kHz cards), it has taken 20 years since the standard was established but only about half of all 25 kHz cards have been replaced so far. Legacy compatibility and the need for equivalent performance, even with additional benefits, will drive adoption timing for the Access Control market. While BLE technology helps resolve the compatibility problem of mobile access cards, it can identify some breakthroughs that can solve the speed problem. Authentication speed is being continuously improved using BLE's GAP layer and GATT layers, and new products with these improvements are now released in the market. Making use of key improvements allows Suprema's mobile access card to exhibit an authentication speed of less than 0.5 seconds providing equivalent performance to that of card-based authentication. AirFob Patch MOCA System's AirFob Patch addresses the need for technological improvements in the access control market in a direct, cost effective, and reliable way – by offering the ability to add high-performance BLE to existing card readers – enabling them to read BLE smartphone data by applying a small adhesive patch approximately the size of a coin. This innovative breakthrough applies energy harvesting technology, generating energy from the RF field emitted by the existing RF reader – then converting the data received via BLE back into RF – and delivering it to the reader. By adding the ability to use BLE on virtually any existing RF card reading device, MOCA allows greater ability for partners and end users to deploy a technologically-stable, high performance access control mobile credential solution to their employees, using devices they already own and are familiar with. Adding MOCA AirFob Patch eliminates the need to buy and install updated readers simply to take advantage of mobile credential, lowering costs and risks, and increasing employee confidence and convenience. Growth forecast of mobile access card market in 2020 In 2020, forecasts show that the mobile access card market will grow far more rapidly Several companies have entered the mobile access card market, but they have not set up a meaningful product solution stream until 2019. In 2020, forecasts show that the mobile access card market will grow far more rapidly. Reviewing new entries into the market allows identification of the latest products that provide improving solutions to compatibility and speed problems. MOCA AirFob Patch addresses development plans in process today that overcome the legacy installed base of card readers – allowing rapid creation of an environment that can make immediate use of BLE mobile access cards. Integrated mobile digital ID With proven usability and within suitable environments, mobile access cards will also begin to make inroads into other markets, not just the access control market. In the sharing economy market, which seeks access management without face-to-face interaction, the integrated mobile digital ID led by the 'DID Alliance' will serve as a technical tool that can be used in access authentication – forging increasing links between the access control and digital ID markets.

Latest Gallagher Security (Europe) Ltd news

Lessons Learned with Gallagher: Adjusting to life during the pandemic
Lessons Learned with Gallagher: Adjusting to life during the pandemic

COVID-19 has been a thorn in the side of countless companies within the security industry and far beyond. Here, we speak with Richard Huison, Regional General Manager for the UK and Europe at Gallagher Security, who summises his personal experience from these recent months and how Gallagher has adapted in the face of pandemic-induced adversity. How has the COVID-19 crisis impacted Gallagher on a day-to-day basis? Gallagher was actually well placed as a result of work already in progress with a number of visionaries and innovators within our business, such as our CIO Neville Richardson. They are determined to put the business on the front foot, making it more digital and proactive in delivering high speed change and we had already been migrating to Microsoft Teams before COVID-19 first reared its ugly head. It’s part of our philosophy to make our business and the solutions we create as stable, reliable and resilient as possible. Gallagher has adapted to the new way of operating fairly seamlessly, while still working alongside the evolving guidance from governments around the world It means Gallagher has adapted to the new way of operating fairly seamlessly, while still working alongside the evolving guidance from governments around the world. When lockdown was imposed, we set about prioritising our clients’ needs and delivering on our commitments as a critical supplier. The Gallagher leadership team quickly rolled out the means to stay connected, positive and safe as each region went into isolation. Effective communication, both internally and externally, has always been a critical success factor for our business. That hasn’t changed with the more remote and virtual nature of our communication now and, if anything, it’s even more important both for business continuity and for the personal wellbeing of each and every one of our colleagues. We’ve quickly adapted to this new way of working and have even become quite adept at recognising people’s contributions and acknowledging a job well done in new ways, such as using the emojis on Microsoft Teams. Perhaps the most striking example of this is our new European marketing manager Bethan Thompson, who joined Gallagher on 1 April, little over a week after lockdown was imposed in the UK. She has enjoyed the richest and most comprehensive introduction to the business from the safety of her own home armed with just a laptop and Teams. What can be the benefits of having employees working from home? There are many benefits of working remotely with productivity right up the top of the list. By reducing the unproductive time spent commuting and travelling to meetings, we are able to get much more done in a day. Add to this the reduction in stress and improved work-life balance and it makes for an impressive formula of happier, healthier and more motivated colleagues. And it’s still easy to measure results no matter where someone is working. We’ve quickly adapted to this new way of working and have even become quite adept at recognising people’s contributions and acknowledging a job well done To be honest, before COVID, we didn’t disconnect enough, close the laptop, switch off our technology and allow ourselves NOT to respond instantly. But trust is an integral part of our culture at Gallagher and we can easily and effectively continue to champion the right balance and support for the team moving forward. How can employees ensure they keep a healthy work/life balance? Working from home can require some personal discipline around taking regular breaks and disconnecting from technology. I encourage all my colleagues to stay active and get regular exercise during the day. Taking time out allows you to process ideas with greater clarity, to be more creative, to plan your day and use your time more effectively – all of which is part of achieving that balance. And it’s important that we do switch off and close our laptop at the end of the day, which requires some discipline when you work for a business headquartered in New Zealand, where they are 11 hours ahead. It’s good to cultivate hobbies and welcome distractions that you are passionate about, to switch off from work more effectively. Personally, I love to be outside on a long dog walk with no technology. It’s liberating. Are you seeing that businesses are already beginning to think differently about their security? We have to remember why security is important. We all have a different view on how we should maintain business continuity. Yes, properties need a reliable detection and defence solution to resist the opportunist. With the mass migration to work remotely, business leaders are concerned that their IT systems are vulnerable to attack and we read daily about the growth in cyber-attacks. It’s common sense to protect your business with a suitable access control and intrusion detection system and the pandemic has proven to business the value of being truly resilient and able to still operate whatever circumstances ensue. What will be the biggest security challenges facing businesses over the next six months? In that timeframe, I don’t see us returning to how things were prior to the pandemic, so businesses will have to adapt to a new normal. We will have to adopt a more holistic view of security, encompassing safety, security and wellbeing, with our teams at the heart of that. In the new world, how can we maintain our teams’ safety at home, or limit them to certain floor space or introduce rotas for office attendance and keep surfaces virus free while they’re there? We need to be alert to where the next threat will come from and mitigate risk against both cyber and biological threat as we’ve seen a virus in either domain can be devastating. How is Gallagher meeting the evolving demands of the market? To be honest, Gallagher has always been ahead of the curve. We’ve been talking about competencies, compliance and resilience for decades, long before cyber became the buzzword. Everything we do is related to business resilience and continuity and security is baked in to our products and solutions at source, providing confidence and reliability for all of our customers.

Gallagher Security aids King's Cross Estate Services in securing the redeveloping King’s Cross, London
Gallagher Security aids King's Cross Estate Services in securing the redeveloping King’s Cross, London

Once an underused industrial wasteland, King’s Cross is one of the largest and most exciting redevelopments in London. The 67-acre site is being transformed into a new part of the city with homes, shops, offices, galleries, bars, restaurants, schools, and a university. The King’s Cross development is a mixture of old and new buildings and many of the old buildings are listed with strict planning restrictions. “Some of the buildings here have played a significant part in the area’s history, so extra care needs to be taken when installing a security system,” says Nick Killington, King’s Cross Estates security system design specialist. Security solution The Gallagher solution provides flexibility to integrate a number of other systems The public areas and many of the buildings in the estate are managed and maintained by the King’s Cross Estate Services team. They are tasked with keeping the site well-maintained, well-lit and secure at all hours of the day and night, making it a place all people want to visit and enjoy. To help make King’s Cross the best managed estate in the UK, the team needed a security solution that could evolve alongside them as the estate grows. Nick Killington says Gallagher was the specified solution throughout the project. “As we are such a large estate, we required an enterprise solution that offers us the ability to extend as and when required, something we know is a particular strength of the Gallagher system.” Visitor management “The Gallagher solution is particularly useful in a retro-fit situation like this, where running cables and network points in such buildings isn’t allowed. For example, we eventually want to replace some of the door handles with a wireless locking system, which we know can also be linked to the Gallagher system.” The Gallagher solution provides flexibility to integrate a number of other systems, such as video, visitor management and elevators, as well as being able to add functionality like mobile access when they require it. Gallagher technology will continue to feature across the new phases of the King’s Cross development, providing integrated, scalable security solutions to help create a welcoming, secure place for people to work, live and do business in this whole new part of London. “The Gallagher solution has allowed us to future proof our security, ensuring it will evolve with our needs as and when required.”

Trends in banking security include more networks and software
Trends in banking security include more networks and software

In the banking world, the threat of unwanted intrusions into premises leading to loss of property and even risk to life is always present. Small wonder then that banking institutions take so much care over their security systems and also over their choice of suppliers for those products. In the retail banking sector, requirements for intrusion detection and related security measures are necessarily more stringent and more specialised than in most other areas of business and commerce. Data capture form to appear here! The banks clearly need to work with suppliers whose integrity is beyond question. They should also be looking for organisations that can offer expert advice, gained through their knowledge of design and manufacturing security products. Systems need specialist installer partners in order to provide a seamless solution. Systems need specialist installer partners in order to provide a seamless solution The special requirements of the banking sector These supplier organisations must also fully understand the special requirements of the banking sector and, ideally, should be able to demonstrate proven experience in that sector. They must also be willing and able to work with the bank as a partner, to find better ways of addressing old threats and to develop effective measures to counter new ones. Video is a big component of providing security, and variable lighting conditions pose a persistent challenge in video surveillance applications such as large banks and financial institutions. Typically, these venues include an abundance of windows. The resulting excessive light can damage video image quality, by flooding the image plane of the surveillance camera. Dramatic differences between light and dark areas complicate the ability of video cameras to view someone standing in the shadows. A contrasting lack of windows at teller stations can result in dim lighting, equally damaging video image quality, in critical surveillance areas where clear, detailed images are needed the most. Stark contrasts between white and black levels in video images can obliterate faces and finer details of a subject when in a darker area. Particularly, this happens when a person is amid dark internal lighting, with his/her back to the sun. Data capture form to appear here! A new network architecture When upgrading a bank’s digital security system, a new network architecture needs to be created. Usually, this means switching from DVRs to NVR servers. As a result, network switches attach to the camera allowing for easier future system expansion. Along with the newly gained scalability, throughput performance on servers can achieve significantly higher levels. Servers, networking and workstations provide enterprise-quality performance for all financial projects, regardless of size. Servers, networking and workstations provide enterprise-quality performance for all financial projects Implementing a complete video solution with high-performance servers, modern networking protocols and powerful workstations is now possible in financial institutions, even for small projects. Servers, networking and workstations provide enterprise-quality performance for all financial projects, regardless of size. Software is also part of the solution. A new software platform helps banks and credit unions simplify, modernise, and automate security, surveillance and fraud investigations across their enterprise. The platform eases the daily challenges security investigators face. It simplifies and reduces the time to access live and recorded video through an intuitive interface, empowering users to quickly find the data needed to eliminate risks while increasing productivity. With an enhanced user experience, investigators can reduce training time, align investigation workflow, streamline video sharing, and focus on more critical tasks. The fraud and security challenges banks contend with can be overwhelming, but prompt action is necessary to limit the damage that can greatly affect customers, employees, and the brand. When an incident occurs, investigators must turn to innovative security tools to be able to swiftly locate and analyse data. But these solutions are typically complex to use and manage. Investigators must turn to innovative security tools to be able to swiftly locate and analyse data Changing work environments The changing work environment of financial institutions is impacting security needs. A credit union in Australia operates an innovative, modern working environment that utilises flexible workspaces in place of traditional desks. Staff are not allocated a specific desk but instead choose where they wish to sit each day. To facilitate the operation of the flexible work environment and provide employees with storage for their personal effects (work-related material is stored elsewhere), the credit union uses banks of brightly colored lockers that are managed by electronic access control. Using Gallagher’s smartcard, multi-technology T20 and T10 readers on each locker bank, staff badge their access card to open their allocated locker. With the readers communicating with Gallagher’s Command Center software management platform, the credit union has a simple-to-operate, customisable system that enables staff to carry just one card on site. Read part one and part three of our banking security mini series.

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