Access control system accessories - Expert commentary

Get the most from investments in building security
Get the most from investments in building security

From analogue to digital, from stand-alone to interlinked, building systems are in a state of transition. Moreover, the rate of change shows no sign of slowing, which can make it difficult to keep up to date with all the latest developments. If asked to pinpoint the single biggest driver of this revolution, one could point out the growing clamour for platform convergence. A security guard in a building doesn’t want to use different systems to check video cameras, fire alarms or if someone has entered a restricted area: – it simply isn’t efficient. For similar reasons, a building manager wants a single interface to control heating and lighting to match fluctuating occupancy levels, particularly in a hybrid working model. Applying the digital glue The demand from end-users for system convergence is growing, but to achieve full interoperability you still need to apply some ‘digital glue’ and that requires expertise. Yet bringing together disparate systems from different manufacturers can be problematic. Just as you get things to work, someone upgrades their solution and your carefully implemented convergence can start to come unstuck. Managing an implementation can quickly become more complicated, today’s quick-fix can become tomorrow’s headache This is one of the principal issues with all types of new technology; not everyone will choose the same path to reach the desired goal – it’s the old VHS/Betamax argument updated for building management and security systems. Managing and maintaining an implementation can quickly become more complicated than it first appears and without proper oversight, today’s quick-fix can become tomorrow’s technical headache. Effective support for a hybrid workforce Today’s hybrid workforce is a response to the pandemic that looks set to become an established part of working life for many companies across the world. Security systems have a massive role to play in facilitating this transformation that goes beyond simple intrusion detection, access control, and video monitoring. They can identify the most densely populated areas in a building to comply with social distancing guidelines and provide efficient use of space. The insights gathered from a security system can also be used to identify patterns of behaviour, which can then be used for planning and directing the use of building space to help create the best possible working environment while also minimising heating, lighting, and air conditioning expenditures. Identity credentials can help manage compliance with industry regulations by limiting access to certain areas Similarly, identity credentials – either biometric or mobile-based – can help manage compliance to industry regulations by limiting access to certain areas only to approved employees. Creating and maintaining the appropriate level of functionality requires a combination of innovative solutions and industry experience. The complete security package It’s not just physical security that’s important – cybersecurity is a major focus, too. Bringing together both the physical security and cybersecurity realms is increasingly becoming a ‘must have’ capability. What is evident is that the pace of technological change is faster than ever. Today’s functionality simply wouldn’t have been possible just a few years ago, while today’s leading-edge developments may seem commonplace in five years.

How businesses can protect their people in the new age of work
How businesses can protect their people in the new age of work

Ensuring employee health and safety remains a key priority for organisations this year, especially as we see COVID-19 cases continue to rise in different areas of the world. As an ongoing challenge, COVID-19 has shifted the priorities of many organisations. In fact, “improving health and safety for employees” is the top strategic goal this year of manufacturing and logistics organisations in the U.S. and U.K., according to research conducted by Forrester on behalf of STANLEY Security. But as we think about reopening and as hybrid workforce models and “workspace-on-demand” approaches rise in popularity, leaders need to consider implementing the right technologies to help ensure a safe return to the office. This means investing in health, safety, and security solutions that can help leaders protect their people. The intersection of security technology and health and safety There’s no doubt that the scope of security has expanded in the wake of the global pandemic. What was once an area governed by a select few security or IT professionals within a business has now become a crucial company investment involving many key stakeholders. The role of security has expanded to encompass a broader range of health and safety challenges for businesses Additionally, the role of security has expanded to encompass a broader range of health and safety challenges for businesses. Fortunately, security technologies have made significant strides and many solutions, both existing and new, have been thrust forward to address today’s biggest business challenges. Investment in security technology It’s important to note that businesses are eager to adopt tech that can help them protect their people. Nearly half (46%) of organisations surveyed by Forrester report that they’re considering an increasing investment in technology solutions that ensure employee safety. Technologies like touchless access control, visitor management systems, occupancy monitoring, and installed/wearable proximity sensors are among some of the many security technologies these organisations have implemented or are planning to implement yet this year. Facilitating a safe return to work But what does the future look like? When it comes to the post-pandemic workplace, organisations are taking a hard look at their return-to-work strategy. Flexible or hybrid workforce models require a suite of security solutions to help ensure a safer, healthier environment More than half (53%) of organisations surveyed by Forrester are looking to introduce a flexible work schedule for their employees as they make decisions about returning to work and keeping employees safe post-pandemic. Such flexible – or hybrid – workforce models require a suite of security solutions to help ensure a safer, healthier environment for all who traverse a facility or work on-site. One of the central safety and security challenges raised by these hybrid models is tracking who is present in the building at any one time – and where or how they interact. Leveraging security technology With staggered schedules and what may seem like a steady stream of people passing through, it can be difficult to know who’s an employee and who’s a visitor. Access control will be key to monitoring and managing the flow of people on-site and preventing unauthorised access. When access control systems are properly integrated with visitor management solutions, businesses can unlock further benefits and efficiencies. For instance, integrated visitor management systems can allow for pre-registration of visitors and employees – granting mobile credentials before people arrive on-site – and automated health screening surveys can be sent out in advance to help mitigate risk. Once someone reaches the premises, these systems can also be used to detect the person’s temperature and scan for a face mask, if needed.  We will likely see these types of visitor management and advanced screening solutions continue to rise in popularity, as 47% of organisations surveyed by Forrester report that they’re considering requiring employee health screening post-pandemic. Defining the office of the future A modern, dynamic workforce model will require an agile approach to office management. It’s imperative to strike the right balance between making people feel welcome and reassuring Businesses want to create an environment in which people feel comfortable and confident – a space where employees can collaborate and be creative. It’s imperative to strike the right balance between making people feel welcome and reassuring them that the necessary security measures are in place to ensure not only their safety but also their health. In many cases, this balancing act has created an unintended consequence: Everyone now feels like a visitor to a building. Protocols and processes With employees required to undergo the same screening processes and protocols as a guest, we’ve seen a transformation in the on-site experience. This further underscores the need for seamless, automated, and tightly integrated security solutions that can improve the employee and visitor experience, while helping to ensure health and safety. Ultimately, the future of the office is not about what a space looks like, but how people feel in it. This means adopting a “safety-always” culture, underpinned by the right technology, to ensure people that their safety remains a business’ top priority. 

Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) – what you need to know about modern and future proof access control security?
Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) – what you need to know about modern and future proof access control security?

Access control and management of trusted identities are the building blocks of security, safety, and site management policies for many businesses and organisations. The current pandemic has compounded this with the introduction of new policies and regulations, particularly around social distancing and contact tracing. Most organisations will have some form of legacy access control in place, ranging from the most simplistic options, such as locks and keys, to technology-based systems. The issue with legacy systems of any type is that risks, just like technology, evolve. What was secure, convenient, and efficient a few years ago is often found wanting as the threat landscape changes. The standards governing the development and testing of physical access control systems (PACS) have also evolved to improve security and product interoperability. An example is the Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP), introduced 10 years ago as an alternative to the antiquated and vulnerable Clock-and-Data and Wiegand protocols. However, when it comes to planning infrastructure upgrades or implementing new tools, businesses must carry out due diligence to ensure the solutions are future-proof and deliver the expected level of security. Vulnerabilities and challenges In the early 1980s, Clock-and-Data and Wiegand protocols were widely adopted as the de-facto standard for interoperability between access control readers and physical access controllers. Those de-facto standards were later formalised and adopted into industry standards by the Security Industry Association in the 1990s. Wiegand is unencrypted and unable to protect from “man in the middle” attacks and vulnerabilities  There were weaknesses, though, Wiegand is unencrypted and unable to protect from “man in the middle” attacks and vulnerabilities from the reader to the controller. Not only that, but Wiegand delivers limited range options and is operationally inefficient. It is also easy to target via its learnable language and a host of hacking devices available via online sources. Furthermore, the retrofitting installation alongside a legacy system is complicated for integrators and expensive for organisations, as most readers require dedicated home-run wiring. Extensive wiring on a large-scale project, such as a school or corporate campus, results in considerable — often prohibitive — costs for the installation of a PACS. Legacy access control protocol Despite the well-publicised vulnerabilities and weaknesses, Wiegand is still one of the most common protocols in legacy access control, with estimates indicating it is used in more than 90 percent of installed systems. This not only presents issues about physical security but also raises concerns relating to the protection of personal data. Access control systems not only contain information about who can and cannot use certain doors. OSDP is a communication standard Modern systems include a wide range of personal data, ranging from qualifications and certifications of individuals, home contact details, and even medical conditions or HR and employment information. With the potential fines associated with GDPR breaches, companies need to take this concern seriously. These weaknesses pushed the security industry to adopt a new protocol: Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP). This access control communications standard was developed by Mercury Security (now part of HID Global) and HID Global in 2008, and donated, free of intellectual property, to the Security Industry Association (SIA) to improve interoperability among access control and security products. Since then, it has been adopted as a standard by SIA, becoming the first secure, bidirectional reader/controller protocol to be governed by a major standards body in the security industry. In 2020 OSDP reached an additional milestone in becoming an International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard. Why implement OSDP as a standard? OSDP is the only protocol that is secure and open for communication between readers and controllers The growth of networked devices, such as video and access control products, has led to an increased demand for converged solutions. Businesses and organisations recognise the value of implementing an integrated solution to enhance security and add value to technology investment. OSDP is the only protocol that is secure and open for communication between readers and controllers and is also being widely adopted by industry-leading reader and controller manufacturers. It is an evolving, ‘living standard,’ making it a safer, more robust, future-proof option for governing physical access control systems. OSDP offers important benefits: 1) Increased security Implementing OSDP standards can increase security, as OSDP with Secure Channel Protocol (SCP) supports AES-128 encryption that is required in U.S. federal government applications. Additionally, OSDP constantly monitors wiring to protect against tampering, removing the guesswork since the encryption and authentication are predefined. 2) Bidirectional communication Early on, communication protocols such as Wiegand were unidirectional, with external card readers sending information one way to a centralized access control platform. OSDP has transformed the ability for information to be collected, shared, and acted upon with the addition of bidirectional communication for configuration, status monitoring, tampering, and malfunction detection, and other valuable functions. In fact, OSDP is the only open, non-proprietary, bidirectional, secure protocol for communication between card reader and physical access controller. 3) Open and interoperable OSDP adds new technology that enhances its ability to protect incoming and outgoing data collection OSDP supports IP communications and point-to-point serial interfaces, enabling customers to flexibly enhance system functionality as needs change and new threats emerge. They also can proactively add new technology that enhances their ability to protect incoming and outgoing data collection through a physical access control system. 4) Reduced installation costs OSDP’s use of two wires (as compared to a potential of 11 wires with Wiegand) allows for multi-drop installation, supervised connections to indicate reader malfunctions, and scalability to connect more field devices. Daisy-chaining accommodates many readers connected to a single controller, eliminating the need to run home-run wiring for each reader, and the use of a four-conductor cable achieves up to 10x longer distances between reader and controller than Wiegand while also powering the reader and sending/receiving data. 5) User friendly OSDP gives credential holders greater ease of use, with audio and visual feedback such as coloured lights, audible beeps, and the ability to display alerts on the reader. For security administrators, managing and servicing OSDP-enabled readers also becomes increasingly convenient, as OSDP-enabled readers can be remotely configured from network-connected locations. Users can poll and query readers from a central location, eliminating the cost and time to physically visit and diagnose malfunctioning devices. Unlimited application enhancements OSDP streamlines installations and upgrades while saving organisations the expense of replacing readers  OSDP supports advanced smartcard technology applications, including PKI/FICAM and biometrics, and other enhanced authentication protocols used in applications that require Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) compliance and interactive terminal capabilities. Audio-visual user feedback mechanisms provide a rich, user-centric access control environment. OSDP offers advantages for users, administrators, and integrators, alike. It adds security and real-world efficiencies, and its interoperability ensures that organisations can use systems from numerous manufacturers as they invest in infrastructure that maximises the protection of critical data. For our part, HID Global’s range of HID Signo readers is OSDP verified, ensuring they offer the intended interoperability and security for secure bidirectional communication and provide an easy migration from Wiegand devices. In a campus environment, OSDP streamlines installations and upgrades while saving organisations the expense of replacing readers if a new access control solution is implemented. There are also service and maintenance benefits as OSDP encourages continuous monitoring of system uptime and allows for remote configuration of -- or upgrades to -- a reader. Cost savings upon system upgrade Integrators can also capitalise on the introduction of OSDP by encouraging open standards, which can, in turn, help them build new customer relationships and win more projects. Although upgrading to access control systems that adhere to OSDP standards is a significant initiative, the range of benefits outweighs the cost of upgrading. Increased security coupled with business efficiencies adds value for those administering the system and a high level of interoperability ensures users can deploy systems from numerous third-party manufacturers. Integrators who understand the benefits of OSDP can also help their customers support both current and future technology requirements. When a site’s needs change, OSDP offers significant cost savings as the open functionality makes adding new devices easier and reduces the expense of requiring all readers to be replaced if a new solution is installed. Businesses and organisations transitioning to OSDP will also enhance value in terms of operational costs such as servicing and maintenance.

Latest MAXxess Systems Europe Ltd. news

ExcelRedstone to deploy Maxxess eFusion integration at Square Mile’s first residential and hospitality development project
ExcelRedstone to deploy Maxxess eFusion integration at Square Mile’s first residential and hospitality development project

ExcelRedstone is implementing an ambitious integration project, using Maxxess eFusion technology, at the first high-rise residential and hospitality development in the City of London for many years. Currently under construction, the £300m 43-storey One Bishopsgate Plaza development will see security and building management technology operating seamlessly together in a setting that includes both new-build and listed conservation area structures. As well as having 160 new private apartments, when completed the development will include a 237-bed five star Pan Pacific Hotel, a public plaza and a Pacific Ballroom, promoted as the Square Mile’s first dedicated banqueting venue. ExcelRedstone selected eFusion for the project because of the flexibility it allows, enabling rapid integration, off-the-shelf, with a wide choice of security, safety and business-critical technologies. Umbrella management system “The customer wanted a seamless, single interface that allows front of house guest services to be linked to back of house functions and give the highest operator efficiency and enhanced customer experience,” says Matt Salter, Director, ExcelRedstone. eFusion provides an umbrella management system for an expanding choice of preferred technologies With its modular, building block approach, eFusion provides an umbrella management system for an expanding choice of preferred technologies for commercial, hospitality and mixed-use settings, including guest check-in, reservation & visitor management, access control, surveillance, and building systems. In use, eFusion drives efficiency and eliminates gaps in security by removing the need for operators to continually switch between systems. Video management system Two of the most important technologies being integrated by eFusion at One Bishopsgate Plaza are the full-featured, Oracle Hospitality Opera property management & guest service system, and a 266 door ASSA ABLOY wireless electronic locking solution. ExcelRedstone is also using eFusion to integrate Zenitel IP intercoms, a KONE lift system, and the building management (BMS) system using the BACnet protocol, which will enable estate managers to optimise energy efficiency based on usage and occupancy. The eFusion integration also allows a more flexible approach with the surveillance system - for example, making it easy to use a choice of Axis cameras, with specialist mounts, in the listed conservation areas of the site, integrating them with over 350 Mobotix fixed lens and panoramic cameras through the highly-secure Wavestore video management system (VMS). Networking and AV systems ExcelRedstone is also responsible for networking and AV systems at the development The surveillance and other security systems will be monitored live from two separate control rooms, one for the hotel and one for the wider estate. As well as integrating these and fitting out the control rooms, ExcelRedstone is also responsible for networking and AV systems at the development. “Our engineers are pre-staging the entire system off-site,” explains Salter. “This is allowing us to test everything in advance and to reduce packaging waste and environmental impact on site. It also lets us work more efficiently, in step with the ongoing construction schedule, floor by floor.” Providing secure solutions One Bishopsgate is the latest of a growing number of mixed-use developments - including hotels, retail, office and residential complexes - to use eFusion to streamline security, safety and facilities management. “We are seeing a growing trend towards automation and centralised management, and the solutions being deployed at these locations are increasingly sophisticated – but that doesn’t mean they have to be complex,” says Lee Copland, Managing Director EMEA, Maxxess. “Quite the opposite in fact. By keeping things simple and integrating off-the-shelf with the widest choice of technologies, Maxxess is providing secure solutions that are easier to install and to use than traditional alternatives.”

Maxxess' InSite solution for improving situational awareness on display at IFSEC 2019
Maxxess' InSite solution for improving situational awareness on display at IFSEC 2019

Transforming the way security teams monitor, manage and control multiple systems, Maxxess is launching its new, open-architecture InSite solution at IFSEC International, (London ExCel 18-20 June, stand IF2120). Maxxess InSite is a cyber-secure, cloud-based service that has been developed to give organisations impressive new levels of situational awareness and allow the most rapid, coordinated response to wide range of incidents, both emergency and non-emergency. InSite can pull data from a wide array of security and safety systems and infrastructure thanks to its open-architecture design. Applications range from device fault monitoring, maintenance tracking and reporting, to incident handling and emergency response coordination.  Effective coordination during emergency InSite doesn’t simply integrate disparate systems, it unifies their capabilities and makes them more powerful in use"For large organisations, or those with complex sites or multiple premises to manage, InSite reduces complexity and allows seamless central control. It lets day-to-day operations to be managed more efficiently, identifying problems early and reducing risks, and it enables more effective coordination during emergency incidents. “InSite doesn’t simply integrate disparate systems, it unifies their capabilities and makes them more powerful in use,” said Lee Copland, Managing Director, Maxxess EMEA. “InSite pulls together critical security infrastructure and systems – everything from cameras to door controls - bringing everything under a single operating umbrella, and unifying their functions to allow rapid communications, analysis and action.” eFusion security management platform Ambit allows system controllers to link with remote personnel via their personal devicesInSite joins Maxxess’s full suite of advanced control solutions, including the Ambit family of mobile apps and the eFusion security management platform. Ambit allows system controllers to link with remote personnel via their personal devices, enabling alerts, notifications, status assessment and functions including video surveillance support. And eFusion integrates seamlessly with more than 60 off-the-shelf systems from leading vendors, including surveillance, access control, fire and intruder systems with back-office processes. For managers and teams that need to be mobile, the Maxxess MX+ client gives secure web access to eFusion controls and functions via smartphones and tablets. The full suite of Maxxess technologies will be on show at IFSEC, providing complete solutions for organisations looking to streamline their operations and improve control of multi-system infrastructure.

Maxxess to exhibit smart hospitality access control and visitor management solutions at Intersec 2019
Maxxess to exhibit smart hospitality access control and visitor management solutions at Intersec 2019

Maxxess will be at Intersec 2019 showcasing its latest advances in corporate risk reduction, improved people management and smarter hospitality access solutions - including new releases in its popular eFusion and Ambit solutions. eFusion security management The latest version of the VisitorPoint module within the eFusion security management platform will be showcased, offering a host of new streamlined functions for efficient people and visitor management. Harnessing current advances in cloud computing and mobile communications, VisitorPoint is being used at premises from hotels and campuses to corporate headquarters. It allows the whole process of visitor management to be streamlined in a way never previously possible. For example, it lets guests’ phones be used as access credentials, making it a perfect alternative to room keys in the hospitality sector. Compatibility of the VisitorPoint system with ASSA Abloy Hospitality products has proved to be particularly popular with hotels. VisitorPoint System VisitorPoint is also ideal for busy hotel reception teams who need to keep across who is entering the premises VisitorPoint is also ideal for busy hotel reception teams who need to keep across who is entering the premises. With the latest version of VisitorPoint, users can easily view pre-registered visitors in advance; manage and sign-in large groups in seconds; book meeting rooms; manage visitor car parking; and automate notifications and messaging. Now organisations can go even further in streamlining their people and diary management processes, thanks to integration with Outlook and Google calendars. A new VIP feature allows automatically tailored welcomes for specified guests and/or groups; and a QR Scan App allows visitors and VIPS to be immediately verified. In addition, a new, sleek self-service kiosk will be unveiled at the show, which is ideal for positioning in hotels and high-end corporate lobbies. Open-technology systems integration Meanwhile, with its versatile, open-technology software eFusion is proving a practical alternative to costly or complex conventional PSIM solutions. It offers the advantages of a modular, building block approach and gives users the freedom to integrate, customise and adapt their security systems to meet both current needs and emerging risks. Ensuring compatibility with leading surveillance, intruder, access and fire detection systems, eFusion now supports more than 60 off-the-shelf integrations and several important additions are confirmed for the show. These latest integrations include Jaquies IP intercom hardware; the mobile phone app GuardPoint; and the Metra locker system hardware. “For users who want control and better value from their security investments, eFusion with its expanding choice of integrations is the ideal management platform”, says Lee Copland, Managing Director, Maxxess EMEA. Smart, open infrastructure The eFusion platform allows legacy systems to be transformed into a smart, open infrastructure and extends the life of equipment" “The eFusion platform allows legacy systems to be transformed into a smart, open infrastructure and extends the life of equipment. Our technology is proving particularly popular because it gives users all the advantages of advanced PSIM without the associated cost or complexity.” eFusion can be easily scaled from one site to multiple sites globally and it can connect stand-alone systems for easy upgrades such as retro-fits with existing hardware. Network monitoring for public safety Also on show, Ambit allows security controllers to communicate directly with both individuals and groups and to monitor the safety of everyone on site (or on multiple sites), for example employees, residents, visitors, or contractors. Now Ambit users will benefit from direct notification of a wide range of risks thanks to a new integration with the NC4 incident alert service. NC4 monitors risks and issues alerts in real time, covering potential threats ranging from terrorist incidents to weather events, from civil disruption to cyber-attacks. With this new integration, as N4C alerts arise they will be filtered by proximity/relevance and directly sent to Ambit users. Lone worker monitoring   Visitors to the Maxxess stand will also learn how Ambit’s latest life-saving technology comes with a choice of applications tailored to the user’s needs. For example, it can allow lone-worker monitoring; courtesy communications and remote escorting after-hours; panic alarm features; and individualised messaging during incidents. It can help security teams co-ordinate and work more effectively with emergency responders too as well as improving the efficiency of day-to-day operations.  We are well positioned to further capitalise on major infrastructure projects across the region such as hotels and leisure" With new customers and projects including Bluewater Island, TAJ Hotel & Residences JLT Dubai, TAJ Hotel & Palace on Palm Jumeirah, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, Emirates Flight Catering Extension, the Jewel of the Creek and Yahsat, 2019 will be an exciting year of growth for Maxxess in the Middle East.  Maxxess expands Middle East reach  “We are well positioned to further capitalise on major infrastructure projects across the region such as hotels and leisure. The demand for increased operational efficiencies across the MENA region has seen many organisations look to automate tasks and at the same time mitigate against the potential for human error. This is evident in the demand we’re seeing for streamlined visitor management, the elimination of keys and better optimised workforces across security and facilities management functions.”, said Lee Copland, Managing Director, Maxxess EMEA. He adds, “And as real-world applications for artificial intelligence become a reality, we are continuing to collaborate with our world leading video surveillance partners to bring these advanced analytics into the eFusion platform. Meanwhile, we will continue to support our customers in complying with revised fire and safety codes and new security regulations.” 

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