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Audio, video or keypad entry - Expert commentary

The digital transformation of access control solutions
The digital transformation of access control solutions

The safeguarding of premises through the monitoring of entrance and exit points has traditionally been a very manual aspect of security. Human operators have been relied on to make decisions about who to admit and deny based on levels of authorisation and the appropriate credentials. But the access control business, like many industries before it, is undergoing its own digital transformation; one where the protection of premises, assets and people is increasingly delivered by interconnected systems utilising IoT devices and cloud infrastructure to offer greater levels of security and protection. Modern access control solutions range from simple card readers to two factor authentication systems using video surveillance as a secondary means of identification, right through to complex networks of thermal cameras, audio speakers and sensors. These systems, connected through the cloud, can be customised and scaled to meet the precise requirements of today’s customer. And it’s the ease of cloud integration, combined with open technologies and platforms that is encouraging increasing collaboration and exciting developments while rendering legacy systems largely unfit for purpose. Remote management and advanced diagnostics Cloud technology and IoT connectivity means remote management and advanced diagnostics form an integral part of every security solution.Cloud technology and IoT connectivity means remote management and advanced diagnostics form an integral part of every security solution. For example, as the world faces an unprecedented challenge and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause disruption, the ability to monitor and manage access to sites remotely is a welcome advantage for security teams who might otherwise have to check premises in person and risk breaking social distancing regulations. The benefits of not physically having to be on site extend to the locations within which these technologies can be utilised. As an example, within a critical infrastructure energy project, access can be granted remotely for maintenance on hard to reach locations. Advanced diagnostics can also play a part in such a scenario. When access control is integrated with video surveillance and IP audio, real-time monitoring of access points can identify possible trespassers with automated audio messages used to deter illegal access and making any dangers clear. And with video surveillance in the mix, high quality footage can be provided to authorities with real-time evidence of a crime in progress. Comprehensive protection in retail Within the retail industry, autonomous, cashier-less stores are already growing in popularity The use of connected technologies for advanced protection extends to many forward-looking applications. Within the retail industry, autonomous, cashier-less stores are already growing in popularity. Customers are able to use mobile technology to self-scan their chosen products and make payments, all from using a dedicated app. From an access control and security perspective, connected doors can be controlled to protect staff and monitor shopper movement. Remote management includes tasks such as rolling out firmware updates or restarting door controllers, with push notifications sent immediately to security personnel in the event of a breach or a door left open. Remote monitoring access control in storage In the storage facility space, this too can now be entirely run through the cloud with remote monitoring of access control and surveillance providing a secure and streamlined service. There is much to gain from automating the customer journey, where storage lockers are selected online and, following payment, customers are granted access. Through an app the customer can share their access with others, check event logs, and activate notifications. With traditional padlocks the sharing of access is not as practical, and it’s not easy for managers to keep a record of storage locker access. Online doors and locks enable monitoring capabilities and heightened security for both operators and customers. The elimination of manual tasks, in both scenarios, represents cost savings. When doors are connected to the cloud, their geographical location is rendered largely irrelevant. Online doors and locks enable monitoring capabilities and heightened security for both operators and customers They become IoT devices which are fully integrated and remotely programmable from anywhere, at any time. This creates a powerful advantage for the managers of these environments, making it possible to report on the status of a whole chain of stores, or to monitor access to numerous storage facilities, using the intelligence that the technology provides from the data it collects. Open platforms power continuous innovation All of these examples rely on open technology to make it possible, allowing developers and technology providers to avoid the pitfalls that come with the use of proprietary systems. The limitations of such systems have meant that the ideas, designs and concepts of the few have stifled the creativity and potential of the many, holding back innovation and letting the solutions become tired and their application predictable. Proprietary systems have meant that solution providers have been unable to meet their customers’ requirements until the latest upgrade becomes available or a new solution is rolled out. This use of open technology enables a system that allows for collaboration, the sharing of ideas and for the creation of partnerships to produce ground-breaking new applications of technology. Open systems demonstrate a confidence in a vendor’s own solutions and a willingness to share and encourage others to innovate and to facilitate joint learning. An example of the dynamic use of open technology is Axis’ physical access control hardware, which enables partners to develop their own cloud-based software for control and analysis of access points, all the while building and expanding on Axis’ technology platform. Modern access control solutions range from simple card readers to two factor authentication systems using video surveillance as a secondary means of identification Opportunities for growth Open hardware, systems and platforms create opportunities for smaller and younger companies to participate and compete, giving them a good starting point, and some leverage within the industry when building and improving upon existing, proven technologies. This is important for the evolution and continual relevance of the physical security industry in a digitally enabled world. Through increased collaboration across technology platforms, and utilising the full range of possibilities afforded by the cloud environment, the manufacturers, vendors and installers of today’s IP enabled access control systems can continue to create smart solutions to meet the ever-changing demands and requirements of their customers across industry.

A secured entrance is the first defence against an active shooter
A secured entrance is the first defence against an active shooter

The statistics are staggering. The death tolls are rising. And those who now fear environments that were once thought to be safe zones like school campuses, factories, commercial businesses and government facilities, find themselves having to add the routine of active-shooter drills into their traditional fire drill protocols. The latest active shooter statistics released by the FBI earlier this year in their annual active-shooter report designated 27 events as active shooter incidents in 2018. The report reveals that 16 of the 27 incidents occurred in areas of commerce, seven incidents occurred in business environments, and five incidents occurred in education environments. Deadly active-shooter events Six of the 12 deadliest shootings in the country have taken place in the past five years Six of the 12 deadliest shootings in the country have taken place in the past five years, including Sutherland Springs church, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the San Bernardino regional center, the Walmart in El Paso and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, which have all occurred since 2015. Although these incidents occurred in facilities with designated entry points common to churches, schools and businesses, the two most deadly active-shooter events since 2015 were the Route 91 Harvest music festival shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 dead and the Pulse nightclub killings in Orlando where 49 perished. As Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of the FBI field office in San Antonio, Texas, said during a news conference following the August 31 mass shooting in Odessa, Texas that claimed seven lives: “We are now at almost every two weeks seeing an active shooter in this country." Active shooter incidents Between December 2000 and December 2018, the FBI’s distribution of active shooter incidents by location looks like this: Businesses Open to Pedestrian Traffic (74) Businesses Closed to Pedestrian Traffic (43) K-12 Schools (39) Institutions of Higher Learning (16) Non-Military Government Properties (28) Military Properties—Restricted (5) Healthcare Facilities (11) Houses of Worship (10) Private Properties (12) Malls (6) What the majority of these venues have in common is they all have a front entrance or chokepoint for anyone entering the facilities, which is why any active-shooter plan must include a strategy to secure that entry point. Situational awareness in perimeter and door security Preventing people with the wrong intentions from entering the space is the goal" According to Paul Franco, an A&E with more than 28 years of experience as a consultant and systems integrator focusing on schools, healthcare and large public and private facilities, that while active shooter incidents continue to rise, the residual effect has been an increase in situational awareness in perimeter and door security. “Certainly, protecting people and assets is the number one goal of all our clients. There are multiple considerations in facilities like K-12 and Healthcare. Preventing people with the wrong intentions from entering the space is the goal. But a critical consideration to emphasise to your client is getting that person out of your facility and not creating a more dangerous situation by locking the person in your facility,” says Franco. High-security turnstiles “Schools today are creating a space for vetting visitors prior to allowing access into the main facility. Using technology properly like high-security turnstiles offer great benefits in existing schools where space constraints and renovation costs can be impractical.” What steps should they be taken when recommending the proper door security to ensure the building is safe As a consultant/integrator, when discussions are had with a client that has a facility in a public space like a corporate building, government centre or industrial facility, what steps should they be taken when recommending the proper door security to ensure the building is safe and can protect its people and assets? For Frank Pisciotta, President and CEO of Business Protection Specialists, Inc. in Raleigh, North Carolina, a fundamental element of his security strategy is making appropriate recommendations that are broad-based and proactive. Properly identifying the adversaries “As a consultant, my recommendations must include properly identifying the adversaries who may show up at a client’s door, the likelihood of that event occurring, the consequences of that event occurring, determining if there are tripwires that can be set so an organisation can move their line of defence away from the door, educating employees to report potential threats and creating real-time actionable plans to respond to threats. A more reactionary posture might include such thing as target hardening such as ballistic resistant materials at entry access points to a facility,” Pisciotta says. Veteran consultant David Aggleton of Aggleton & Associates of Mission Viejo, California recommends that clients compartmentalise their higher security areas for limited access by adding multiple credential controls (card + keypad + biometric), along with ‘positive’ access systems that inhibit tailgating/piggybacking such as secure turnstiles, revolving door and mantrap if your entrances and security needs meet the required space and access throughput rates. Integrated solution of electronic access control Defining a single point of entry in some public facilities is becoming the new standard of care according to many A&Es and security consultants, especially in a school environment. This approach allows a concerted effort when it comes to staffing, visitor monitoring and an integrated technology solution. The bottom line remains: most buildings are vulnerable to a security breach A proactive stance to securing a door entryway will use an integrated solution of electronic access control, turnstiles, revolving doors and mantraps that can substantially improve a facility’s security profile. The bottom line remains: most buildings are vulnerable to a security breach, so it’s not a matter of if there will be a next active shooter tragedy, it’s only a matter of where. Enhancing access control assurance “There is no easy answer to this question,” says Pisciotta referring to how a secured entrance can deter an active shooter. “There have been at least two high-profile incidents of adversaries shooting their way into a facility through access control barriers. So, if the threat so dictates, a ballistic resistant might be required.” He concludes: “There is obviously no question that turnstiles, revolving doors and man traps enhance access control assurance. Electronic access control is easy to integrate with these devices and providing that credentials are secure, approval processes are in place, change management is properly managed and the appropriate auditing measures in place, access control objectives can be met.”

Are mobile credentials more secure than smart cards?
Are mobile credentials more secure than smart cards?

For the past several years, there has been a focus by integrators and customers to assure that their card-based access control systems are secure. To give businesses an extra incentive to meet their cybersecurity threats, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided to hold the business community responsible for failing to implement good cybersecurity practices and is now filing lawsuits against those that don't. For instance, the FTC filed a lawsuit against D-Link and its U.S. subsidiary, alleging that it used inadequate safeguards on its wireless routers and IP cameras that left them vulnerable to hackers.Many companies perceive that they are safer with a card but, if done correctly, the mobile can be a far more secure option  Now, as companies are learning how to protect card-based systems, such as their access control solutions, along comes mobile access credentials and their readers which use smart phones instead of cards as the vehicle for carrying identification information. Many companies perceive that they are safer with a card but, if done correctly, the mobile can be a far more secure option with many more features to be leveraged. Handsets deliver biometric capture and comparison as well as an array of communication capabilities from cellular and Wi-Fi to Bluetooth LE and NFC. As far as security goes, the soft credential, by definition, is already a multi-factor solution. Types of access control authentication Access control authenticates you by following three things: Recognises something you have (RFID tag/card/key), Recognises something you know (PIN) or Recognises something you are (biometrics). Your smart phone has all three authentication parameters. This soft credential, by definition, is already a multi-factor solution. Your mobile credentials remain protected behind a smart phone's security parameters, such as biometrics and PINs. Organisations want to use smart phones in their upcoming access control implementations Once a biometric, PIN or password is entered to access the phone, the user automatically has set up 2-factor access control verification - what you know and what you have or what you have and a second form of what you have.                 To emphasise, one cannot have access to the credential without having access to the phone. If the phone doesn’t work, the credential doesn’t work. The credential operates just like any other app on the phone. The phone must be “on and unlocked.” These two factors – availability and built-in multi-factor verification – are why organisations want to use smart phones in their upcoming access control implementations. Smart phone access control is secure Plus, once a mobile credential is installed on a smart phone, it cannot be re-installed on another smart phone. You can think of a soft credential as being securely linked to a specific smart phone. Similar to a card, if a smart phone is lost, damaged or stolen, the process should be the same as with a traditional physical access credential. It should be immediately deactivated in the access control management software - with a new credential issued as a replacement. Your mobile credentials remain protected behind a smart phone's security parameters, such as biometrics and PINs Leading readers additionally use AES encryption when transferring data. Since the Certified Common Criteria EAS5+ Computer Interface Standard provides increased hardware cybersecurity, these readers resist skimming, eavesdropping and replay attacks.            When the new mobile system leverages the Security Industry Association's (SIA) Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP), it also will interface easily with control panels or other security management systems, fostering interoperability among security devices.All that should be needed to activate newer systems is simply the phone number of the smart phone Likewise, new soft systems do not require the disclosure of any sensitive end-user personal data. All that should be needed to activate newer systems is simply the phone number of the smart phone. Bluetooth and NFC the safer options Bottom line - both Bluetooth and NFC credentials are safer than hard credentials. Read range difference yields a very practical result from a security aspect. First of all, when it comes to cybersecurity, there are advantages to a closer read range. NFC eliminates any chances of having the smart phone unknowingly getting read such as can happen with a longer read range. There are also those applications where multiple access readers are installed very near to one-another due to many doors being close. One reader could open multiple doors simultaneously. The shorter read range or tap of an NFC enabled device would stop such problems. However, with this said in defence of NFC, it must also be understood that Bluetooth-enabled readers can provide various read ranges, including those of no longer than a tap as well. One needs to understand that there are also advantages to a longer reader range capability. Since NFC readers have such a short and limited read range, they must be mounted on the unsecure side of the door and encounter all the problems such exposure can breed. Conversely, Bluetooth readers mount on the secure sides of doors and can be kept protected out of sight. Aging systems could cause problems Research shows that Bluetooth enabled smart phones are continuing to expand in use to the point where those not having them are already the exceptions With that said, be aware. Some older Bluetooth-enabled systems force the user to register themselves and their integrators for every application. Door access – register. Parking access – register again. Data access – register again, etc. Newer solutions provide an easier way to distribute credentials with features that allow the user to register only once and need no other portal accounts or activation features. By removing these additional information disclosures, vendors have eliminated privacy concerns that have been slowing down acceptance of mobile access systems. In addition, you don’t want hackers listening to your Bluetooth transmissions, replaying them and getting into your building, so make very sure that the system is immunised against such replays. That’s simple to do. Your manufacturer will show you which system will be best for each application. Research shows that Bluetooth enabled smart phones are continuing to expand in use to the point where those not having them are already the exceptions. They are unquestionably going to be a major component in physical and logical access control. Gartner suggests that, by 2020, 20 percent of organisations will use mobile credentials for physical access in place of traditional ID cards. Let’s rephrase that last sentence. In less than 18 months, one-fifth of all organisations will use the smart phone as the focal point of their electronic access control systems. Not proximity. Not smart cards. Phones!

Latest Comelit news

Comelit to install door entry with Alexa Voice Control at Kebbell Homes’ Wintersbrooke
Comelit to install door entry with Alexa Voice Control at Kebbell Homes’ Wintersbrooke

Future residents at Kebbell Homes’ new prestigious development, Wintersbrooke will be able to receive and answer door entry requests via mobile or Amazon Alexa voice control, thanks to Comelit’s WIFI connected monitors. Set in Ascot, Berkshire, Wintersbrooke is a grand, new gated community featuring just six spacious and exclusive 2-3 bedroom apartments within mature, secluded communal gardens. Kebbell Homes has used Comelit’s specification team on previous developments and again called upon its services, together with chosen installers R&M Bailey, from the initial design process, through the work’s programme to project completion. Door entry, via Comelit’s mini handsfree WIFI monitors, will enable new residents to respond to door entry requests from their mobile, and also integrates with Amazon Alexa for voice announcements and control of the gate/front door to the block. Facial recognition technology The monitors provide facial recognition technology for authorised guests to gain access and video memory, to record any missed calls. Says Andrea Fawell, Sales and Marketing Director at Kebbell Homes: “With high expectations for Wintersbrooke’s indulgent design to deliver gracious living for our discerning buyers, every element had to be considered to offer the highest level of luxury and specification. And to ensure all feels safe and secure.” All the smart home security systems installed had to be equally stylish and futureproof" “We had worked previously with Comelit and knew its systems were able to achieve the level of style intended to complement Wintersbrooke’s dignified presence. The additional benefits of WIFI connected monitors provide our soon to be residents with latest integrated smart security technology, seamlessly installed, enabling them to instantly respond to door entry requests, at their choice and from wherever they are.” Smart home security systems Mat Bailey, Director from R&M Bailey added: “Wintersbrooke has the look and feel of a private country home, which epitomises Kebbell Homes’ well-known flair for grand architecture. All the smart home security systems installed had to be equally stylish and futureproof. Comelit’s Mini Handsfree WIFI was the natural choice for door entry, easy to install via wireless technology and simple to integrate. Just the one solution presents future homeowners with user friendly bespoke options that can connect seamlessly with their home security, and be controlled by mobile and Amazon Alexa, at their own choice.” Each home at Wintersbrooke has been fitted with a Mini Handsfree monitor complete with integrated WIFI, operating through Comelit’s renowned Simplebus 2 wire. At the striking gates to the development is Comelit’s premium stainless steel flush mounted, 316 Sense digital entrance panel. Door entry system Up to fifteen smart devices can be connected to each and every property’s individual WIFI monitor The system enables new residents to grant access through the vehicle gates or adjacent pedestrian gate using the internal monitor or a dedicated mobile app. A second is fitted on the front door of the development itself. Up to fifteen smart devices can be connected to each and every property’s individual WIFI monitor. Daniel Wood, Southern Sales Manager at Comelit UK concluded: “Once again, it was a pleasure for Comelit to work closely with Kebbell Homes to ensure the complete door entry system installed at Wintersbrooke, achieved the desired balance between timeless style and latest technology." Alexa voice control "From the gated entry using our Sense panel, which at only 3 mm thin, blends in with any building due to the panel's slim profile, to the chic WIFI monitors, the combined solution, provides aspiring residents with a powerful door entry system and the convenience of audio and visual communication, together with ease of use via mobile or Alexa voice control in everyday life.” Comelit’s official website can be visited for more information on Comelit’s ViP System, Mini handsfree WIFI Monitor Door Entry Solutions or range of products.

Comelit Group offers Alexa integrated monitor with facial recognition technology to enhance door security
Comelit Group offers Alexa integrated monitor with facial recognition technology to enhance door security

Comelit Group’s Mini Handsfree WIFI Monitor has evolved to integrate with Amazon Alexa, and offer high-performance facial recognition technology, for the ultimate smart door entry experience. The Italian door manufacturer, known for its high specification solutions, launched the Mini Handsfree WIFI kits as an internal wireless upgrade to its exclusive SimpleBus system, alongside complementing Quadra ViP and iKall metal external door entry solutions. Mobile connected lifestyle Simple to retrofit, the Mini Handsfree WIFI system allows Alexa to announce that someone is at the door. And with facial recognition enabled, the new functionality also allows homeowners to identify who is at the door. The technology will continue to drive and shift to every impact on every aspect of our lives" Says Justin Hawkesford, Comelit Operations & Technical Manager: “There’s no denying that voice control is the future. The technology will continue to drive and shift to every impact on every aspect of our lives, and in our position, as a forward-thinking premier door specialist, we need to prepare and enable our products accordingly.” “The Mini Handsfree WIFI system was launched to fit a mobile connected lifestyle. The new features of Amazon Alexa control and facial recognition demonstrate our commitment to offering futureproof technology, without compromising security or style. We have also kept to our pledge of ensuring simple installation and configuration, to create a seamless retrofit opportunity for homeowners to benefit from smart door entry.” Hosting dedicated webinars The Mini Handsfree WIFI Kit is designed with ease of installation in mind, with a clear interface allowing a connection between its monitor and configuration with Amazon Alexa to be achieved in just a few easy steps. With colour monitors and indicator LEDs for incoming calls, door open, privacy and pending messages as standard, homeowners will also always be able to receive and answer calls from video door entry on their chosen smartphone or tablet, via the latest updated version of the Comelit App. Comelit is hosting dedicated webinars throughout July to guide installers through the requirements to enable control of Comelit devices with Amazon Alexa.

Smart R Distribution upgrades access control systems at Northern & Shell Building to enhance public security
Smart R Distribution upgrades access control systems at Northern & Shell Building to enhance public security

A landmark building located on the north side of the River Thames, has seen its security upgraded with Smart R Distribution and systems integrator, Isecurity Systems Limited, working in partnership to ensure tenants are protected by the latest advances in Access Control technology. The Northern & Shell Building at 10 Lower Thames Street, London EC3 which offers dramatic panoramic river views, has an on-site restaurant, a 10 storey glazed atrium and glass wall climber lifts. Among its tenants, Northern & Shell Group occupies approximately 110,000 sq. ft. spread over the ground, 4th, 9th and 10th floors. Single software platform As part of a phased office refurbishment programme, the owners of the building reviewed the tools available to the security personnel to enable them to maintain a safe and secure environment for approximately 5,000 people who work in the building, as well as contractors and visitors. “The existing Geoffrey Access Control system had been in use for over 20 years and although it was still operating effectively, its functionality was limited compared to more modern solutions,” said Russell Morgan, Project Manager for Elsenham, Essex based Isecurity Systems, who have had a long term association with Northern & Shell Group. “A decision was made to invest in the latest generation Vanderbilt Security Management System (SMS) which enables users to efficiently manage alarms, lifts, visitors and the photo ID badging process, from a single software platform.” Magnetic stripe readers The Comelit video entry system integrates seamlessly with the SMS control system Russell and his colleagues at Isecurity Systems worked with the Smart R Distribution team to supply a Vanderbilt SMS access control system and they also in the process of replacing the 140 aging magnetic stripe readers with new CIDRON access control readers which support securely encrypted DESfire EV2 contactless Smart Cards from Cambridge UK based Authenticard. Smart R Distribution also supplied a new Comelit ViP video entry system, comprising 8 door stations and 2 control desk positions, which has been installed by Isecurity Systems to allow operators within the building’s 24/7 control room, to communicate and remotely open doors for contractors and couriers who need to gain entry via, for example, to a basement entrance. The Comelit video entry system integrates seamlessly with the SMS control system. Efficient access control solution “We now have a highly efficient Access Control solution which helps us to manage the smooth movement of large numbers of people through turnstile controlled speed lanes located in our reception area and it also enables us to control who can gain access to other restricted areas within the building,” said Dave Wratten, Facilities Manager for Northern & Shell Group. “Isecurity Systems and Smart R should be applauded for working in partnership to ensure that all the equipment was delivered to site exactly when it was needed and then installed to our complete satisfaction.”

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