Access control readers - Expert commentary

Smart Offices: How is mobile ID changing the way we access the office?
Smart Offices: How is mobile ID changing the way we access the office?

If you’re a security or facilities manager, you may already be aware of the quiet revolution that’s taking place across businesses and organisations up and down the country. By the end of 2020, 20% of all ID and access control systems featured mobile capability, and this is set to increase by a further 34% over the next three years. There’s no doubt that using a smartphone or mobile device in place of traditional credential and access control is a growing trend that’s only been sped up by the pandemic. It’s true that many businesses are still very much focused on remote working, although many are now starting to implement new-and-improved strategies that are better suited to protect the workforce moving forward. Mobile ID systems As the next normal becomes clearer, businesses will be reviewing procedures such as access control, occupancy monitoring, reducing touch points and tracking visitors. Mobile ID systems are ideally suited to this task. But what are the key reasons for considering such a setup in 2021? But why is this new technology so well-suited to future-proof your physical access system, and why is it becoming so popular? Eradicating outdated legacy credentials Have you seen just how vulnerable outdated Proximity card technology can be? Low-frequency 125kHz cards can be cloned in a matter of seconds with the use of cheap, readily available tools. Despite their weaknesses, they are still used by a huge majority of businesses – big and small. All smartphones include two industry-standard features that make them perfect for operating a secure, contactless credential Replacing such a system with a mobile-enabled system is one of the best ways to increase security ten-fold. Thanks to a cloud-based infrastructure, mobile ID offers best-in-class security and cryptography. All smartphones include two industry-standard features that make them perfect for operating a secure, contactless credential. Bluetooth Smart and NFC (Near Field Communication) make them the best product to operate such a credential via a secure app. If you’re looking for best-in-class security in 2021, mobile access is most definitely the way forward. Removing touch points across the business Reducing touch points and the adoption of touchless facilities has become a key priority for businesses in the wake of COVID-19. Even as businesses start to return to the office and operate a home/office split, it will be imperative that unnecessary contact is kept to an absolute minimum between staff. The traditional issuance of identification and access control credentials can pose problems in this regard. Facility and security managers who are responsible for onboarding and processing ID have done the process face to face. Mobile access makes it possible to carry this process out without people coming into direct content. First, the security manager has access to a secure portal, allowing them to create, manage and edit credentials anywhere. They can upload and remotely transfer mobile ID and access control credentials directly to users’ smartphones over the air. Via the secure app, users can view and see their credentials and immediately begin using it for ID and access control by simply placing their smartphone over card readers. Enabling a more flexible way of working The way in which we work has changed for good. Even as people more people return to the office in 2021, a majority of businesses will be operating a home/office split indefinitely. This once again reinforces the need for a smarter, more adaptable onboarding system. Implementing mobile ID is the perfect way of doing this: over-the-air delivery of credentials and security data is now a given, helping businesses create the perfect balance between the home and the office. No longer do people have to come into the office for the onboarding process. Increasing convenience and user experience More often businesses are realising the value mobile ID can have for enhancing the work experience as well as security Ok, so mobile ID is the perfect way of increasing security and adapting workplaces to a post-COVID way of working. And we’ve not even touched on the most obvious advantage yet: Convenience. How many times have you forgotten your ID card? We’re sure it’s more times than you forget your smartphone. These powerful processors have become intertwined with the way we carry out tasks on a daily basis. They’re so vital that people will soon notice if they’ve forgotten it. From an employee’s perspective, mobile ID and access control is simple, convenient and extremely user-friendly. More and more businesses are realising the value mobile ID can have for enhancing the work experience as well as security. From the employer’s perspective, mobile ID means it’s easier for administrators to manage access and credentials. Future-proofing access control now will ensure that in the longer term, mobile ID is well worth the investment. The annual expenditure of printing ID cards and purchasing credentials can be vast, while reissuance costs can also quickly add up for larger organisations. These issues are a thing of the past for businesses using mobile ID. Mobile ID perfect tool for 2021 and beyond Until mobile ID, new and improved credentials’ main focus was on increasing security. Mobile ID not only delivers that, but it also provides a more convenient way of accessing the office in a way that’s perfectly suited to returning to the office in 2021. If there was ever a time to upgrade, now is the time. Summing up, mobile access is changing the way we access the office by: Eliminating weak links in security systems such as outdated legacy card technologies Eradicating the need for touch points across multiple areas of the workplace Enabling a smarter, more flexible approach to onboarding Increasing convenience – for both employers and employees.

Access control and door entry management: How technology is driving change
Access control and door entry management: How technology is driving change

Access control and door entry is a huge responsibility, and challenge, for local authorities and housing associations UK wide. For councils, they’re accountable for the security and safety of many public facilities such as leisure centres, libraries as well as residential housing developments which are often large scale and home to hundreds of people. Housing associations manage affordable rental housing which also means they’re responsible for the appropriate access control management for each individual house or flat. Technology developments have enabled better entry systems that are far more secure yet also more convenient and easier to manage. For example, with modern intercom and access control systems, remote management and communication is something that offers local authorities and housing associations features that enable them to reduce costs and cut their carbon footprints by managing multiple sites from one place. On the other hand, such technological innovation has meant that local authority and housing association specifiers and consultants now have a wide range of systems and products to choose from which can cause issues in ensuring the right system for a specific building or development is chosen. Choosing an appropritate access control system In choosing an appropriate system, local authorities and housing associations need to opt for a cost effective solution that can be easily maintained with excellent support from the manufacturer and guarantees that the system and system parts will remain supported for the duration of its expected life cycle. It is also important that the chosen system is flexible to cater for the varying needs of the tenants and visitors. Of increasing importance is the reduction of anti-social behaviour which new technology can help by providing the use of data loggers which track the use and events of a door entry system, allowing specific evidence to be located by integrating with CCTV. Using technology to our advantage Through advancements in management systems and services, we can gain a much better visual representation of the events and general usage of an intercom entry system and not just its proximity access control. Systems, for example, can now send email alarms or notifications to the administrator or management. We are now able to modify user rights and access levels on the go from a mobile app which enables a much greater control over service and maintenance engineers, such as making sure they have full access when required via an app, rather than arriving to site with the incorrect keys or access fob. Systems, for example, can now send email alarms or notifications to the administrator or management Dealing with tenant’s lost and stolen keys has never been so easy either. The blocking or deletion of lost fobs and adding a new fob can be carried out in minutes while at the same time removing the cost of sending an engineer to the development to programme new fobs. This greatly reduces the carbon footprint of the whole task as fobs can now be sent out via post to a secure location for collection. Technology has also helped local authorities and housing associations to overcome the issue of not being able to have a concierge or building manager available 24/7 at some developments. Now with internet communication, it’s possible for tenants and visitors to get in touch with someone should they need assistance, whether that’s from within the apartment or from an entrance point. For example, lets take the Videx VX2200 with IP concierge integration. This system is exceptionally flexible, enabling calls to be answered on Videx intercoms and also mobile phones if required. With the integration of the IP concierge each block can be either standalone or networked via the internet back to a central control room. Reduced maintenance costs and carbon footprint We work with a wide range of local authorities and housing associations to help them overcome access control and door entry challenges. One organisation we have recently partnered with is The Living Group to help them greatly reduce their maintenance costs and carbon footprint by installing the MiAccess offline proximity system on many of their developments across the North East. Technology developments have enabled better entry systems that are far more secure yet also more convenient and easier to manage By installing an appropriate system, The Living Group has managed to overcome issues caused by the existing system’s limitations and also enabled much more flexibility when it comes to effectively managing the access control system of all their included developments. For those responsible for effective and appropriate access control, the management of the systems are easier, quicker and there’s no delay or on-going costs for needing a specialist programme to modify fobs and access rights as this can now all carried out in-house. Improved security legislation Further advancements in programmes such as Secured by Design (SBD), a police initiative that improves the security of buildings and their immediate surroundings to provide safe places to live, work and visit, means that there’s more security legislation being implemented that’s making intercoms and access control more secure, without affecting ease and convenience. Videx holds an SBD accreditation and we know, from first-hand experience, how it’s making a difference in keeping tenants safe. When you combine the safety features promoted by an SBD member company like ourselves with the likes of the Videx event logging, image capture and ability to modify access users on the go, for example, we can help to create a very safe and secure environment. Personally, I think there needs to be a greater emphasis on the role of security legislation Technology has completely transformed the way local authorities and housing association are able to choose, install and manage door entry and access control systems for tenants and visitors alike. Personally, I think there needs to be a greater emphasis on the role of security legislation such as Secured by Design to ensure all councils and housing association consultants are up to date with what constitutes a robust and secure system that’s also cost effective too. In my role, I see weaknesses in systems and constant ongoing costs that could easily be avoided. For instance, features such as timed remote entry means local authority and housing association management no longer need to worry about keys being lost, the wrong keys being supplied or locks needing to be changed. With new systems such as the Videx MiAccess and Videx WS4 range, we can help to massively reduce a housing association’s or council’s carbon footprint and engineer costs by allowing them the access to management and control from an offsite location. Crime prevention We can also use live and logged events to help prevent crime in different ways, from antisocial behaviour growing around a tenant being called or visited much more regularly than others, to knowing a tenant is currently still living at a property but isn’t paying rent or answering to any correspondence. Technology enables local authorities and housing associations to receive detailed data and therefore behavioural insights on the people under their management and care. If consultants and specifiers are advised on the most appropriate systems that meet their specific entry needs, they can ensure greater, safer and more convenient access control that meets the requirements of both the end user and the those responsible for its effective management.

Wireless technology is transforming motion detection
Wireless technology is transforming motion detection

Motion detection is a key feature of security systems in residential and commercial environments. Until recently, systems have relied heavily on closed circuit television (CCTV) and passive infrared (PIR) sensors, which both require significant investment and infrastructure to install and monitor. Developments in wireless technology are increasing home security possibilities. Few years ago, these developments led Cognitive Systems to discover that the wireless signals surrounding oneself can be used to detect motion. Known in the wireless industry as WiFi sensing, this technology brings many benefits that other motion detection solutions have not been able to provide. The working of WiFi sensing At Cognitive Systems, the company has used WiFi sensing technology to develop a motion detection solution called WiFi Motion™, which measures and interprets disruptions in RF signals transmitted between WiFi devices. When movement occurs in a space, ripples in the wireless signals are created. WiFi Motion interprets these ripples and determines if an action, such as sending a notification, is needed. Enabling this functionality in a space is incredibly simple. With a software upgrade to only one’s WiFi access point (or mesh router), motion sensing capabilities are layered into one’s WiFi network. Existing connected WiFi devices then become motion detectors without detracting from their original functions or slowing down the network. Using artificial intelligence (AI), WiFi Motion establishes a benchmark of the motionless environment and learns movement patterns over time, which could be used to predict trends. This allows unusual movement patterns to be detected with greater accuracy while decreasing the potential for costly false alerts. WiFi Motion requires no line-of-sight or installation WiFi sensing and other home monitoring solutions All of these capabilities are made possible by WiFi sensing and together create a motion detection system that provides unparalleled accuracy, coverage, privacy and affordability compared to other solutions on the market. PIR integration is far more complex and imposes electronic and physical design restrictions compared to WiFi sensing. In terms of placement, PIR systems are difficult to install, requiring line-of-sight and a device in every room for localisation. WiFi Motion requires no line-of-sight or installation and is also a scalable solution compared to PIR. Much like cameras, PIRs can only cover so much space, but WiFi Motion can cover the entire home and even detect motion in the dark and through walls, without adding additional devices to the home. WiFi Motion detects less distinguishing context than cameras and microphones, but more context than regular PIR sensors for the perfect balance of privacy and highly accurate motion detection. Privacy solution While cameras have been the security solution for years, WiFi Motion offers a more affordable solution that can rival the privacy and coverage capabilities of even the most high-end cameras. With such a wide coverage area, one might think that WiFi sensing infringes on privacy, but actually, the opposite is true. With WiFi Motion, the contextual information collected cannot be used to identify a specific individual, unlike cameras which can clearly identify a person’s face or microphones, which can identify a person’s voice. It is different from other smart home security options that use cameras and microphones because it only senses motion using WiFi signals - it doesn’t “see” or “listen” like a camera or microphone would. This provides opportunities for added security in spaces where privacy might be a concern and installing a camera may not be a comfortable solution, such as bathrooms and bedrooms. The data collected is also anonymised and highly encrypted according to stringent industry privacy standards. Existing connected WiFi devices then become motion detectors Additional WiFi sensing applications Since WiFi sensing technology requires no additional hardware or subscription fees, it is much more affordable than other motion detection solutions. It can be used as a standalone solution, or it can be easily layered into more complex systems. This ease of integration, scalability and relatively low cost brings a lot of potential for various applications. Motion detection can trigger other smart devices in the network to turn lights on or off In eldercare, for example, WiFi sensing can be used to help seniors live comfortably in their homes for as long as possible. With the increasing aging population and high costs associated with care homes, the market for this application is considerable. Caregivers can use an app to monitor movement in their loved one’s home and be alerted about unusual movement patterns that could indicate a concern. For smart homes and other environments that have a network of smart devices, the artificial intelligence (AI) component of the technology allows for improvements to automated features. Motion detection can trigger other smart devices in the network to turn lights on or off or make adjustments to the temperature in a room. Security for the commercial sector For office buildings and other commercial properties, it is easy to see how all of these features could be scaled up to offer a highly accurate and cost-effective motion sensing and smart device automation solution. Cognitive Systems is closely involved with the development of WiFi sensing technology, working with various industry groups to establish standards and help it reach its full potential. WiFi Motion is merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of motion sensing possibilities, but its applications in the world of security are undeniably compelling. It is an exciting time for the wireless industry, as one works with stakeholders in the security space to explore everything this technology can do.

Latest PCSC news

PCSC and Coolfire Solutions collaborate to deliver top-level capabilities for access and security
PCSC and Coolfire Solutions collaborate to deliver top-level capabilities for access and security

PCSC, a designer and manufacturer of access control solutions and Coolfire Solutions, a St. Louis based software company known for creating Military-Grade situational awareness platforms, collaborate to deliver top-level capabilities for access and security. Coolfire Solutions created its innovative Ronin Platform to deliver software that sits on top of existing systems and infrastructure to transform data into actionable intelligence. Originally developed for the U.S. military, the Ronin Platform is being widely adopted by industry leaders and organisations who recognise the importance of placing the right data, in the right hands, in real-time, so that intelligent decisions can be made. LiNC-NXG PSIM system Stacking the Ronin Platform on top of the data provided by PCSC’s LiNC-NXG PSIM system provides a robust, real-time common operational pictureStacking the Ronin Platform on top of the data provided by PCSC’s LiNC-NXG physical security information management system provides a robust, real-time common operational picture, visually representing physical security events, and enabling a coordinated security response. For instance, urgent security related event details are pushed to mobile devices of nearby security officials for immediate action. An additional benefit, in the case of an on-premises environment, the underlying access management system is not exposed, only the top-level data is managed. Extend the capabilities of access solutions “An extremely impressive GUI for our industry and an actionable set of features extend the capabilities of PCSC’s access solutions for real-time response,” said Mas Kosaka, President and CEO of PCSC. “The expansion possibilities are virtually limitless too. We’re excited to debut the capabilities of Ronin to our Business Partners during the PCSC Symposium in conjunction with ISC West, the largest security industry trade show in the U.S.” Coolfire Solutions and PCSC have the experience and capabilities to transform the way security professionals do their job every day" “Coolfire Solutions and PCSC have the experience and capabilities to transform the way security professionals do their job every day. We can maximise the value of existing technology investments by combining data from any source and making it actionable," said Don Sharp, CEO at Coolfire Solutions. "Security professionals have an incredibly challenging job and it’s only getting tougher. By bringing all of their critical data onto a single pane of glass we can increase the level of security while driving significant operational efficiencies.”

Suprema to globally provide and support BioConnect Identity Platform
Suprema to globally provide and support BioConnect Identity Platform

The BioConnect Identity Platform provides an integration of Suprema's biometric solutions with the majority of leading access control systems BioConnect and Suprema have announced Suprema's launch of the BioConnect Identity Platform. Developed by BioConnect, Suprema's long-standing strategic partner in North America, the BioConnect Identity Platform provides an integration of Suprema's biometric solutions with majority of the leading access control systems in the global security market. Under the appointment, Suprema will provide and support the BioConnect Identity Platform globally from June 1st, 2016 onward. Powerful integration featuresWith the BioConnect Identity Platform's powerful integration features and BioConnect's and Suprema's partner eco-systems, enterprises benefit from the ability to take advantage of deploying biometrics with their existing (or their choice of) access control vendor, standards, devices and way of operating. The BioConnect Identity Platform enables the seamless integration of Suprema's biometric terminals with access control systems, ERP and time and attendance systems, supporting biometric and multi-factor authentication, biometric enrollments and user ID management. One central system The solution enables greater security, identity assurance and convenience from one central system and has ultimately changed the way that the physical access control market can consume biometrics as an authentication strategy. No other manufacturer around the world has been able to offer this level and quality of integrations - with the BioConnect Identity Platform boasting over 20. "With the BioConnect Identity Platform, BioConnect complements our goal of providing industry-leading biometric security solutions to the global market. The product is a ready-made bridge solution that provides easier integration of cutting-edge Suprema biometric technology together with a customer's choice of leading access control systems," said Young Moon, VP of Suprema. "We are looking forward to providing the BioConnect Identity Platform to a more global security market and are excited to offer our customers a seamless and cost-effective way of adopting Suprema's biometric security solutions," Moon added. Innovative technologies From the perspective of the access control provider, the BioConnect Identity Platform opens up the option to provide a Suprema biometric solution and continue to benefit from the complete product line as Suprema brings new and innovative technologies to market. "As a Suprema partner we have experienced a lot of growth in the North American and UK markets due to its leadership and continued emphasis on producing biometric products of superior quality, versatility and range," said Steve Greb, Strategic Director of Business Development at BioConnect. "We're very excited to draw on Suprema's impressive partner network and continue to build out our Quest for Rightful Identity on a global scale." Integration with leading systems The BioConnect Identity Platform integrates the following leading access control systems with the Suprema biometric terminals; ACT ACTManage, AMAG Symmetry, Axis A1001, Brivo OnAir/OnSite, Genetec Security Center, IMRON IS2000, Lenel OnGuard, Open Options dnaFusion, Paxton Net2, Honeywell ProWatch, Honeywell WINPAK, RS2 AccessIT!, S2 Netbox, Software House CCURE 9000, Stanley SecureNET, Gallagher Command Centre and now PCSC LiNC-PLUS. Suprema and BioConnect will team together to showcase the BioConnect Identity Platform at IFSEC 2016 in London on June 21st-23rd at Stand E1400.

Do’s and Don’ts of managing legacy systems – Migration better than rip-and-replace for enhancing security control system functionality
Do’s and Don’ts of managing legacy systems – Migration better than rip-and-replace for enhancing security control system functionality

Systems may be reliable and performing as originally intended, but can also beoutdated in comparison to current technology offerings Let’s start by defining what a legacy system is in the context of a security control system. Legacy refers to an installed and operating security control system made up of numerous components, both hardware and software, that have been eclipsed by newer technologies. A shortage of parts and pieces may be creeping in, and it’s also likely the older stuff has a service tech scratching his head when faced with a configuration setting or data entry protocol. The newer technologies, however, may still be providing much of the desired functionality required by the legacy system user. Legacy in this context then is not necessarily a pejorative term. The system may be both reliable and performing as originally intended but is outdated in comparison to current technology offerings both from a communications standpoint and as it relates to applications and data mining. So what to do? For openers, as my dad would day, do a Ben Franklin list of do’s and don’ts. Naturally you’d love to move to a new, bigger or smaller, better and faster system. But, first, what does that list look like? I for one think is might begin to look like this: Things to do when managing legacy systems Do you have a handle on your current technology capabilities? Many legacy systems are underutilised and have features that are not used. Revisit your systems capabilities: You are likely to make some pleasant discoveries. Do you have a handle on your current technology capabilities? Many legacy systems are underutilised and have features that are not used Do you currently know how all of the pieces and parts in your system are currently communicating? A great start for planning the next steps is to understand the “plumbing.” Associated with that is the location of communication; specifically, how are things wired and where are they terminated, recorded and catalogued? What does your power distribution for the system components look like? Do you have backup and other means of maintaining operations during a loss of power, and where is that stuff? If not done recently, this step provides an opportunity to ensure you are ready for things that don’t happen and also to revisit codes. It’s always worthwhile if a maintenance provider is available to a system test in this area, or it can be self-conducted. What is the state of your record management, and when was the last time you did some basic housekeeping, such as backup and the like? If you don’t remember when you did it last, stop reading and go do some housekeeping — it’s clearly due now! What works for you and your organisation, and what have you developed a work-around for? If your “super users” have found ways to manage desired system outcomes by some clever workaround, are there other desired features?  Do you have a relationship with an authorised service provider or an on-staff trained first responder? Do you have attic stock (stuff you own) to support those older components? I like to think of it like making a road trip with a spare tire and basics in the trunk in case an extended unplanned stop on the side of the road interrupts your trip. Have you developed a plan for an eventual upgrade? What’s first, what does it cost and whom will I let provide pricing to do so?  Rip-and-replace isn't your only option. There are many products and servicesavailable to migrate from a legacy to next steps utilising embedded infrastructure Planning and management What are my/your basic functional requirements, and where are the gaps now you must fill for enterprise sustainability? That legacy system likely has paid its way and now needs to be retired; I’m not ready either. Do you have a business case for this refresh – applications, data mining, new and reporting and risk mitigation strategies? If not, you are missing this first step of legacy migration planning and management. Managing the age includes a system exit strategy. Getting C suite, namely your CFO’s, attention is key; sustainability of your enterprise is 101, so functionality as it relates to risk mitigation is essential to keeping your entity flourishing. So what are the DON’T’s? Don’t trivialise the migration or response to the Do’s or you’ll end up in a big To Do. Don’t minimise the relationship with existing integration resources you have worked with, old and new. Organisations evolve, some for the best, some not so. Refresh these relationships as well; resources are like bridges – you never know when a crossing is needed. Don’t rush into the latest and greatest; be wary of who’s definition you subscribe to. There’s a reason they call it the “cutting” edge. Don’t believe that rip-and-replace is your only option. There are many legacy systems in our industry, and many well-made and well-thought-out products and services are available to migrate from a legacy to next steps utilising embedded infrastructure. The bottom line: Define your parameters, select your partners and engage companies with a history of legacy migration and thought leadership. If your legacy includes some products with forward-thinking engineering thought leadership, you may be able to manage your needs with security control board-level replacements or the flashing of new firmware and upgrades to software. I‘m aware of several companies whose products elegantly move through time, adding new applications and functionality without wholesale rip-and-replace. These legacies carry on. The market has responded to you and others eager to know their options. There are many ingenious and clever ways to upgrade communications and transport of data, reliable mainstream products designed to meet this challenge head-on. There are solutions aimed at allowing you to use current IT and Internet of Things (IoT) apps and functionality. However, there are also quite a number of technology partners able help make the leap from analogue to digital using existing pathways. The bottom line: Define your parameters, select your partners and engage companies with a history of legacy migration and thought leadership. They are most likely to produce the best results and allow you to leave behind the legacy you want to be associated with.

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