TDSi’s EXgarde V.4 access control software reflects the increasing need for advanced integration
TDSi’s EXgarde V.4 access control software reflects the increasing need for advanced integration

In the past the Access Control industry was a relatively straightforward one. Vendors supplied access control systems to installers who in turn organised and fitted solutions which were primarily concerned with securing doorways and controlling the flow of people traffic to restricted parts of the premises. But like most parts of the security industry, the Access Control sector has evolved and the industry is looking to expand their offering to add more value for money than ever before. For some this would have been unthinkable even a few years ago, but now successful companies have to think outside the traditional boundaries to meet the constantly evolving expectations of the market. Integration is a word that is mentioned time and time again in relation to Access Control – and with good reason! The IP revolution has become just as central to this sector as the rest of the security and wider technology world and has shaped the expectations of customers. Far from being a novelty, any system that doesn’t integrate with other IP systems at some level is now considered unusual. The move towards integration means that mutually communicative systems are essential, with the likes of Microsoft Active Directory becoming a central hub to all kinds of company systems from security to Human Resources and Facilities Management systems. As an extension to this, there are also demands for solutions that can still incorporate older legacy systems, which in all likelihood would never have been designed with this kind of integration in mind. For example, a company that has a large installation of analogue CCTV cameras (which may well still have a high degree of their effective lifecycle remaining) is unlikely to want to tear them all out in favour of more modern IP megapixel cameras, just for the sake of having new ones. Modern integrated systems can deal with these integration issues, but it is something that installers need to be sympathetic to, offering solutions that will save their customers wasting budget and will offer tailor-made, highly relevant solutions. The modern business world is largely responsible for driving the need for integration. Security and the ability to monitor and prove it are high priorities, but so is doing it effectively on tighter budgets. Rather than seeing it as a potential stumbling block, the Access Control industry needs to see the opportunities to offer customers a sizable and crucial part of the wider security offering. Schools are a good example of the need to integrate all the security systems to protect potentially vulnerable users. Modern educational establishments usually use a dedicated Schools Information Management Systems (SIMS) which gives a single point of administration and reference. With this at the heart of the establishment, the opportunities and benefits from creating a two way communication between the SIMS and the access control systems is obvious. For an installer there may be a temptation to sell the school a simple, standalone access system (particularly when budgets are under such close scrutiny), that offers lower upfront costs with a simpler installation process - yet there is a superb opportunity to offer a hard working solution that may cost more up front, but will really make good use of existing systems, offering far bigger rewards and helping to future-proof itself for considerably longer. The concept of thinking outside the box can apply on many levels. Access Control is closely linked to security and yet an integrated system can be as much a part of the management of the wider buildings’ control systems. If a people counter system can be used to ensure perimeter security access isn’t breached, then why not use it to control heating and ventilation? Closely controlling these systems minimises the waste of resources whilst ensuring users still get the services they need. Another area that is ripe for the help of Access Control as a value-add is Health and Safety. Being able to monitor the number of people who enter a controlled area also means a close eye can be kept on occupancy. Not only can this control the access of unauthorised people, it also monitors if a lone worker is present in a potentially hazardous area for example, alerting other members of the team that there may be a risk to their safety. Linked to this, it can also be an integral part of compliance, logging when staff are present in a hospital or a prison for example, integrating directly with the employment management system to provide highly accurate and secure information. The humble MIFARE card is another industry standard that can actually offer users a great degree of flexibility and empowerment beyond its Access Control role. The secure identity information held on the card can easily be accompanied by additional authentication details which are just as safe. Businesses or organisations that require a number of different secure functions (such as a university campus for example – which may offer library, gym membership and EPOS systems for retail) can use a MIFARE card as a single confirmation token. The appeal for our customers is that it reduces cost by utilising existing system investments to provide new services, whilst being relatively simple to implement. These examples of ‘Thinking outside the box’ could just be the tip of the iceberg as new technologies are waiting to grab the market. Near Field Communications are rapidly coming into focus as a security tool, building upon the popularity of smartphones and mobile devices on which they are deployed. This is an exciting technology as it utilises a ubiquitous everyday device to offer secure and convenient authentication which as mentioned above, can have a myriad of different uses well beyond the traditional access control arena. Biometric authentication is another area that is coming on in leaps and bounds. Being able to use a fingerprint, retina scan, facial recognition, sub dermal scan or even the analysis of the circulatory system, frees users from having to carry a token and yet offers even tighter levels of security. These levels of security will make it even easier to integrate different systems and the idea of limiting the potential of access control will seem like an anarchistic relic of a bygone age.  

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TDSi integrates access control with perimeter security systems
TDSi integrates access control with perimeter security systems

Specialist Access Control provider TDSi is bringing together the benefits of its entry control products with other perimeter security and building services controls, by offering full interactive systems integration. Earlier in the year TDSi launched a module for true TCP/IP integration from its EXgarde PRO software suite to alarm specialist Texecom’s Premier range of Intruder Alarm panels.  The solution allows full integration to other serial based devices such as IP CCTV, TDSi’s VUgarde NVR providing visual verification of Intruder Alarms through TDSi’s EXgarde PRO. John Davies, Managing Director of TDSi, comments “Integration with Texecom has enabled TDSi to augment EXgarde PRO into a more complete and truly integrated surveillance and security system at the TCP/IP level.  The user has full control, being able to arm and disarm zones to suit the use of the building, reducing the number of false alarms triggered, and providing visual verification of alarms.” Integration provides enhanced control and offers numerous benefits, such as the ability to activate and deactivate specific panels across multiple sites, as well as individual zones of a building and the ability to monitor all Intruder Alarm events which appear in the EXgarde Pro Alarm Manager Events panel.  If an alarm is activated, CCTV can be triggered to deliver both a real time image and a 15 second pre alarm condition recording to the control room.   The integration also means users benefit from a single point of administration with the ability to monitor a log of the intruder alarm system and also reduce the numbers of false alarm and the problems associated with this. This add-on to EXgarde continues TDSi’s overall commitment to making systems integration easier. The other key features of the system include the ability to log events in EXgarde, view the alarm zones’ status “armed”/”part-armed”/”disarmed” in EXgarde, remote arm/disarm from access events and part-arm zones from access events.  These flexible features allow users to avoid costly false alarms through arming only required zones of a building, also preventing unauthorised people from accessing certain zones. TDSi also recently announced the launch of the new Harmony Security Alliance, with even broader aims to ‘Collaborate, Innovate and Protect’ across the security product offering spectrum. TDSi is partnering with exterior detection equipment specialist GJD Manufacturing and specialist in highly efficient power supplies Elmdene International Ltd - along with Texecom, to offer installers and end users an unrivalled integrated service for all security and access control needs. The Harmony Alliance also means that the partner members will co-operate and develop on-going solutions that are designed to complement each other and work together effectively, whatever the specification of the overall system that is installed. For further details on TDSi and its range of access control solutions, please visit www.tdsi.co.uk or telephone +44 (0)1202 724 999. Installers and end users who would like more information on the Harmony Alliance, and have specific project requirements, can find further details on the new dedicated website: www.harmony-alliance.com.

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TDSi announces new MIFARE Programmer tool
TDSi announces new MIFARE Programmer tool

Access control specialist TDSi has launched its new MIFARE Programmer, which offers users the ability to specify their own sectors and keys on their MIFARE access cards. Together with the ability to re-configure TDSi's standard sector readers to any desired code (without the need for any other parties to be involved), the MIFARE Programmer ensures confidentiality of security data and access control.To make sure it doesn't inadvertently become a weak point of security itself, TDSi's MIFARE Programmer uses a highly secure user login to protect the ability to programme user cards from unauthorised users. Having control of MIFARE security details also offers a number of other key benefits:  Use pre-assigned sequential numbers - The MIFARE Programmer provides an effective method of card programming which eliminates potential duplication problems, Read and identify existing cards - users can identify existing cards and sector usage before migrating existing system cards, Log all cards issued - The MIFARE Programmer provides a history of cards which have been issued (for future reference), Multiple card number options - The user can utilise a unique number, custom number or CSN to program a sector, providing increased flexibility, Dual decode options - The MIFARE Programmer allows users to decode the new 7 byte UID using TDSi's format or NXP's format, for increased flexibility, Check which sectors are used - This built-in function allows users to check which sectors have already been used. This is ideal if you want to migrate existing MIFARE CSN cards that may be utilised for other aspects (such as cashless vending) to a more secure sector operation. TDSi's John Davies comments on the MIFARE Programmer, "For companies that need the highest levels of protection; the ability to protect your security codes across the board is a very attractive proposition. Being able to programme your own MIFARE cards and readers means you can close a potential gap in security that comes from pre-programmed systems. We believe this is a unique solution that offers real peace of mind. It has been developed from feedback we have had from installers and users, who advised that it would be highly desirable choice for both security and convenience."

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Access control software - Expert commentary

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.

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 role of building systems to ensure safety as employees return to work
The role of building systems to ensure safety as employees return to work

Returning to work after the global pandemic will not be business as usual, and security systems are an important asset when it comes to helping to keep occupants and buildings safe. For example, video analytics can provide insight into how spaces have previously been used and can help to predict where and when occupants encounter each other or congregate. These foot-traffic patterns can inform settings for a variety of devices – like ventilation and temperature controls – and even help owners create social distancing plans and monitor personal protective equipment (PPE) compliance. “While the ‘new normal’ is still being defined, we believe there will be a greater focus on creating healthier environments while also complying with new regulations,” says Marcus Logan, Global Offering Leader, Honeywell Commercial Security. “Temperature, humidity, energy efficiency, security, safety, comfort, productivity, and demonstrating compliance with regulations are all a part of a healthy building.” For example, social distancing is a new concept for the workplace. How do you make that happen in an open work setting, in breakrooms, elevator lobbies and meeting spaces? Optimised systems create healthier environments Anxious employees will need reassurance about returning to the workplace Building owners will need to look at how they can optimise their systems – or deploy new ones – to create a healthier environment. Building technologies, like those provided by Honeywell's Healthy Buildings solutions, provide building owners with more control over critical factors to encourage sustained compliance with changing building standards, safety guidelines, government-issued regulations, and a company's risk management policies. These solutions also provide transparency for occupants into a building's status, says Logan. Hygiene will be a critical issue: People will want to know that the spaces are ready for their return. Increased cleaning procedures and schedules will evolve, and a way will be needed to demonstrate the procedures are effective and that they have been strictly adhered to. Identifying ways to measure effectiveness of sanitisation and track compliance to the procedures will be a key challenge to solve. This is a space that will evolve significantly in the coming months and years, says Logan. Access control and video analytics Contact tracing is a new requirement in some businesses, and security technology – like access control and video analytics with advanced reporting – can help. Access control technology integrated with video analytics can be used to trace occupant movements within a facility. These technologies capture data that can be used with advanced reporting to provide a digital footprint of where a person has been within a facility and if they may have been exposed to someone identified as being infected with a contagious virus. Building owners can then proactively notify exposed individuals evolve to self-quarantine and minimise further spread of an infection. Video analytics can help to predict where and when occupants encounter each other Anxious employees will need reassurance about returning to the workplace. They will not only seek confidence that the building is optimised for a healthier environment but also that processes are in place to quickly identify and respond to potential issues. Transparency and visibility into how the building works and the health of the environment will help to reassure occupants returning to the workplace. “One way to do this is to share building analytics with occupants – to help them understand factors about the indoor air quality or occupancy density,” says Logan. Controlled health, safety and security Honeywell’s solutions provide building owners with more control over critical health, safety and security factors to encourage sustained compliance with changing building standards, safety guidelines, government-issued regulations and a company’s risk management policies, Logan adds. Visibility into how the building works and the health of the environment will help to reassure occupants returning to the workplace Every day there is new information coming from the medical and scientific community about COVID-19, and the building industry is just starting to learn what it all means. Logan warns that there is no single solution that will keep every environment healthy and safe. A good strategy features deploying a combination of solutions, optimising systems and being vigilant to make sure that companies are sustaining compliance to new and changing regulations, says Logan. “Today more than ever we must be mindful of the changing culture of how buildings are managed by making apparent the need to be mindful of health and well-being in all aspects of our lives,” says Logan. Honeywell has developed outcome-based solutions that allow building owners to transparently address building quality factors while supporting their business continuity needs in the uncertain environment. “We’re giving them the data they need to confidently reassure their employees to accelerate their business operations,” he adds.

Latest TDSi news

Beyond video analytics, what are the benefits of AI and machine learning?
Beyond video analytics, what are the benefits of AI and machine learning?

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have made a big splash in the physical security market, transforming video analytics to a new level of accuracy. In fact, the terms have become common buzzwords throughout the industry. However, the potential for AI and machine learning to impact the physical security industry goes far beyond their ability to improve video analytics. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Beyond better video analytics, how can artificial intelligence (AI) and/or machine learning benefit the physical security market? 

What are the new trends and opportunities for biometrics?
What are the new trends and opportunities for biometrics?

A shift toward touchless devices during the coronavirus pandemic has been a boon to the biometrics sector. Another factor in the recent increase in use of biometrics is lower prices, which are a symptom of a maturing market and of new technology capabilities. Increasingly, integration of biometrics with access control and other security systems is expanding use cases and sales numbers. For additional insights, we asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the new trends and opportunities with biometrics (facial, fingerprint, iris and/or voice)?

What are the physical security challenges of smart cities?
What are the physical security challenges of smart cities?

The emergence of smart cities provides real-world evidence of the vast capabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT). Urban areas today can deploy a variety of IoT sensors to collect data that is then analysed to provide insights to drive better decision-making and ultimately to make modern cities more livable. Safety and security are an important aspect of smart cities, and the capabilities that drive smarter cities also enable technologies that make them safer. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: what are the physical security challenges of smart cities?

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