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 Ajax Systems news

Ajax Systems highlights importance of controlling home automation device using a button trigger
Ajax Systems highlights importance of controlling home automation device using a button trigger

The button (wireless panic button) operates at up to 1,300 meters from the hub and is indispensable in situations where one’s life is at risk. Moreover, the button is a simple way to control a smart home. Set up the automation device response to button pressing and switch the lights off, close the gates, or open roller shutters with a single click. The button is tiny and weightless, resistant to dust and splashes. It can be easily attached onto any surface, worn on the wrist or around the neck. Keep it always close by! Protection against false pressing As soon as the hub receives a signal from button, it instantly sends notifications to all users of the system and the security company. If necessary, it can also activate sirens. A child left home alone can press a button to call for help if they hear a stranger banging on the door. If a cashier is at risk, they can easily reach button installed inside the cash register and raise a silent alarm. Ajax has developed a two-level system for protection against false pressing And the security patrol will know precisely where the problem is thanks to the informative Ajax security system notifications. Button notifications are SOS signals in the security language. Security companies respond to them immediately. Understanding the cost of false alarms, Ajax has developed a two-level system for protection against false pressing. A single button is recessed into the body of the device. One can carry button in a pocket of their pants, in a handbag, or keep it by the bed. Remote control for automation devices It will only send the signal when pressed with a finger. For additional protection, button can be configured to react to a double pressing or a long hold. Button is a simple and reliable way to raise an alarm instantly when the security system is disarmed: during business hours or when the family is at home. Hubs on OS Malevich 2.8 or later allow using button as a remote control for automation devices. In the Control mode, button has two pressing options: short and long (the button is pressed for more than 3 seconds). In turn, these presses trigger one or more automation devices: Relay, WallSwitch, or Socket. Such scenarios allow automating the security system and reducing the number of routine actions. Switch the lights on, turn water off, open the gates, block electric locks with a single button press.

Ajax Systems introduce Hub 2 to guard homes, offices, and personal boundaries
Ajax Systems introduce Hub 2 to guard homes, offices, and personal boundaries

With Hub 2, a user will no longer need to live under round-the-clock camera surveillance to know why an alarm has gone off. Like the first generation of hubs, Hub 2 protects the user’s property against burglars, fire, and flood. But unlike its predecessors, it sends not only alarm notifications but also animated series of images from MotionCam motion detectors. Thanks to the optional Wings radio protocol, a built-in battery, and two SIM card slots, Hub 2 is independent of the guarded facility infrastructure. It will continue protecting the user’s family and property, even if the building has lost power and Internet connection. Hub 2 is a control tool for safe homes, offices, shops, or even industrial facilities. The control panel can manage up to a 100 of Ajax detectors and devices on a distance of up to 2000 metres. And this is not the limit - the ReX radio signal range extender boosts the hub’s coverage area to up to 16 km². Protection of any scale The new hub has three channels to communicate with the users and security companies: Ethernet and two slots for SIM cards. The second slot allows users to improve stability by choosing two different GSM operators. And thanks to the instantaneous switching between communication channels, Hub 2 is guaranteed to transmit photos and alarms even with an unstable Internet connection. The list of features of the Ajax hubs expands every year with the regular updates of the OS Malevich operating system. To ensure the future development of the Hub 2, Ajax Systems has increased the amount of ROM and RAM and equipped it with a fast processor.

Ajax Systems releases MotionCam and Hub 2 as the next level of informative alarm systems
Ajax Systems releases MotionCam and Hub 2 as the next level of informative alarm systems

Even the most reliable security equipment is never fully protected from false alarms. Most of the time, they occur due to simple oversights, hyperactive pets, or incorrect installation. But when the security companies react to false alarms, they risk getting late in case of a real emergency. Some send security patrols to check the unverified alarms right away. The others count the detector triggerings before responding and lose precious minutes in the result. In any case, false alarms bring stress for the consumers and the risk of suffering losses. Prime security companies found the solution in photo and video alarm verification. Both options came with serious compromises. On the one hand, motion detectors equipped with cameras provided a technical possibility to see what triggered the alarm. But the systems that support such devices required frequent maintenance (due to low battery life), delivered low-quality pictures, and were significantly overpriced. Wireless security system On the other hand, video surveillance allowed for a 24/7 monitoring but came with the new difficulties: complicated installation and configuration, total dependence on the building’s infrastructure, high risks of malfunctioning and exploits, as well as the privacy issues. Both solutions didn’t have a chance to become the new security standard. The market required the new cost-efficient solution that would unite the reliability and informing efficiency of the best security systems with the visual capabilities of the cameras. Ajax Systems was one of the first ones to develop the security system with visual alarm verification. Just like they were not the ones to invent wireless security system when launching Jeweller. Parallel transmission of alarms With Wings, the user can view the first snapshot of the situation in under 9 seconds But that fact gave them company an opportunity to rethink the experience of using the equipment from the consumer’s and the service provider’s points of view. They tested and analysed the weak spots and best practices in the industry and eventually created a breakthrough product in terms of informing speed, communication distance, and battery life. To ensure fast and reliable transmission of the photo confirmations, the company developed a new Wings radio protocol based on Jeweller. The technologies that MotionCam and Hub 2 use to communicate, nullify the interference between channels during the parallel transmission of alarms and pictures. With Wings, the user can view the first snapshot of the situation in under 9 seconds while the alarm signals sent via Jeweller are still delivered in a split second. Camera-equipped detector Photo transmission does not shorten the MotionCam communication range. Just like the rest of the Ajax detectors, the new gadget operates at a distance of 1700 metres from the hub. This number is one of the top performance results for a camera-equipped detector. The Ajax security system still covers an area of up to 12 km², which is enough to protect the multi-story buildings but now with visual alarm verification. MotionCam features an extraordinary - for a camera-equipped detector - autonomy with up to 4 years of battery life. This is not an optimistic forecast with ideal use conditions. Instead, it is an estimate for the typical operating conditions, which includes the regular activations and changes in weather conditions. And they have considered the privacy issue. The MotionCam detectors activate their cameras only if triggered by motion when the system is armed. Indoor motion detector Without a doubt, the Wings technology sets the new standards in the security industry" The users and the security company have no way to access the camera and request to take pictures. All photos are encrypted during transmission, and as they are stored at the Ajax Cloud (just like all the events in the security system’s log). No one analyses and processes the photographs from the detectors. MotionCam and Hub 2 raise the informing quality of the Ajax security system to the next level while preserving its fundamental characteristics. MotionCam can easily replace any indoor motion detector, which makes upgrading the security system as painless as possible. It will forever change the user’s attitude to alarms, yet they still won’t be bothered with the system maintenance for years to come. Phenomenal energy efficiency “I am proud that we can make such inventions. Without a doubt, the Wings technology sets the new standards in the security industry. Fast photo transmission at a distance of 1700 metres with phenomenal energy efficiency - it’s magic that was previously unavailable on the market. We’ve managed to boost the informing quality of the system to the next level and preserve the familiar user experience at the same time,” says Aleksandr Konotopskyi, CEO Ajax Systems.

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