Video is often most valuable after an incident has occurred rather than as a proactive agent

Access control can sometimes get overshadowed by video surveillance

Technology is shifting rapidly in the access control market, but another obstacle is the need to communicate the value of the technology to users. Specifically, access control can sometimes get overshadowed by video surveillanceas it competes for a share of the customer’s security dollars.

From a pure security standpoint, electronic access control is better suited than video surveillance to keeping people and locations safe, either by deterring, presenting or immediately reporting an incident, contends Richard Goldsobel, vice president, Continental Access.

“The value of video to provide information and diagnosis is undeniable,” Goldsobel acknowledges. “However, video is often most valuable after an incident has occurred rather than as a proactive agent. Given the choice, the vast majority of end users choose video over access control. There needs to be a better understanding of the proper balance between the systems. It is an industry education and marketing challenge.”

Another challenge for access control is to embrace and leverage new mobile devices and other consumer-driven trends. “We will see a strong push from the quick acceleration of technologies in the consumer space,” says Jeremy Krinitt, general manager of Frontier Security. Mobile devices will continue to impact how security solutions are used and managed, he adds.

In many cases currently, mobile systems have a limited feature set. “The key to the accessibility and seamless operability that end users want is for manufacturers to make the same features available in the mobile version of the product that are available in the fixed version,” says John L. Moss, CEO of S2 Security.

“We’ll also see a strong push to make information [provided by access control systems] more relevant to users of a solution,” says Krinitt. It is critical that each solution help to focus the user on items that require immediate attention. Krinitt compares the challenge to a similar trend in the video market. “Use of banks of video monitors showing views from multiple cameras is largely being scrapped in favour of a single monitor that brings up video when it warrants the operator’s attention,” he says. The same approach should be applied to access control and other areas of monitoring and response as well. “The elements in the management of an alarm can be assisted by technology to provide a more prompt and effective response,” says Krinitt.

Historically, it has been difficult to cost-justify additional doors, but new wireless electronic locks are providing new opportunities
The more doors that are access-controlled, the better

Costs are another challenge for access control. “End users can’t afford everything they would like to have,” says Greg Love, vice president of sales, AMAG. “The market needs to meet that challenge by offering products that can grow with the customer, letting them start small and then build on the system.”

“The market also needs to work on ways to lower the cost-per-door of access control installations,” says John Smith, senior channel marketing manager, Honeywell Security. Edge-based devices and use of power over Ethernet (PoE) are ways to do it. One PoE cable to each door reduces labour and material costs inherent in multiple wire runs. Wireless formats also lower installation costs. “Now we drop the price of the door, lower the installation costs, lower the amount of wire,” he says. 

Here are some other challenges for the access control market, as mentioned by suppliers:

Technology support at the reader

Technology shifts at the reader level can be a difficult pain point that requires visiting each reader to update firmware and can prove costly to the customer, says Jason Ouellette, product line director, access control, for Tyco Security. Moving forward, technology and standards such as the open security device protocol (OSDP) for readers will support the distribution of firmware updates for physical access control systems so that these updates can be controlled from the server, thus reducing cost, installation time and speeding up delivery of enhanced solutions to the customer. (Another supplier, AMAG, uses a 20 milliamp MultiNode Current Loop Protocol [MCLP] to provide bi-directional communication at greater distances and send a data stream to the reader.)

Incorporating new features

When adding new capabilities to a platform as complex as an access control solution, how that capability is implemented is as critical as the capability itself, says Krinitt. When presented with a new feature, customers might find that it does not meet their specific needs or is a significant challenge to use in day-to-day operations. When a feature is added to a solution, it makes a great addition to the checklist. However, there is also a need to understand the user and how they use the solution, Krinitt notes.

Ease of use by “casual” users

The need for security is increasing globally, yet customers are more cost-conscious than ever when it comes to their security system and their business as a whole. In many cases, the security system administrator also has many other tasks to perform in addition to security, says Ouellette of Tyco Security. The combination of these everyday realities creates a need for simple, quick-to-install and intuitive solutions that do not require a lot of training or support and can be used by an administrator who perhaps does not use the system on a daily basis, he says.

Adding more doors

From a dealer’s perspective, the more doors that are access-controlled, the better. “But how do we get more wallet share at a customer’s site?” asks Smith of Honeywell. Currently, maybe a front and back door or maybe a few office or server room doors are controlled, but little else. Many important doors, whether storage rooms, R&D labs, conference rooms, the president’s office, etc., are not being controlled (except by mechanical locks). Historically, it has been difficult to cost-justify additional doors, but new wireless electronic locks that can communicate with an access control system are providing new opportunities.

How do organisations prevent
the compromise of electronic
access control systems and
related devices from hackers?

Need for tighter integration with video

End users want to use integrated video as metadata for personal identification. Tight integration of access control and video enables security to easily identify a person when access is granted or denied without going to a separate user interface, says Moss of S2 Security.

Threats from cyber-terrorism

The convergence of physical and logical security makes cyber-terrorism a growing concern, says Moss. “How do organisations prevent the compromise of electronic access control systems and related devices from hackers?” he wonders. Moss says all organisations should assess risks and develop a security policy. At a basic level, emphasis should be on preventative measures such as backing up data, securing the network with passwords and firewalls, and using up-to-date antivirus software to regularly check and eliminate problems. Organisations should also educate their employees about threats such as phishing and other cyber-attacks. Limiting users and logins to critical systems, as well as connecting virtual networks to physical systems, can reduce vulnerabilities, says Moss. Larger organisations have the resources to proactively monitor their vulnerabilities and current and emerging technologies to address new concerns. Problems should be reported immediately. At a broader level, cooperation among national security, law enforcement and even hackers can help identify issues.

Implementation and management

Solutions should be designed to take the guesswork out of implementation by integrators, says Krinitt. Integrators are often dealing with a wide variety of technologies and may be concurrently supporting multiple access control platforms, as well as other hardware and software solutions. Simplified installation may not receive much attention in the industry, but it does have a significant impact on end users. “If you have ever had an integrator show up to implement a solution and be unable to do so on the first visit, then you’ve experienced the impact of this challenge,” he says. Beyond not meeting the expectations of the end user, the problem also undermines the integrator’s goals to provide effective service to customers.

Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

Larry Anderson Editor, &

An experienced journalist and long-time presence in the US security industry, Larry is's eyes and ears in the fast-changing security marketplace, attending industry and corporate events, interviewing security leaders and contributing original editorial content to the site. He leads's team of dedicated editorial and content professionals, guiding the "editorial roadmap" to ensure the site provides the most relevant content for security professionals.

In case you missed it

The physical side of data protection
The physical side of data protection

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated our digital dependency, on a global scale. Data centres have become even more critical to modern society. The processing and storage of information underpin the economy, characterised by a consistent increase in the volume of data and applications, and reliance upon the internet and IT services. Data centres classed as CNI As such, they are now classed as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) and sit under the protection of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI). As land continues to surge in value, data centre operators are often limited for choice, on where they place their sites and are increasingly forced to consider developed areas, close to other infrastructures, such as housing or industrial sites. Complex security needs One misconception when it comes to data centres is that physical security is straightforward One misconception when it comes to data centres is that physical security is straightforward. However, in practice, things are far more complex. On top of protecting the external perimeter, thought must also be given to factors, such as access control, hostile vehicle mitigation (HVM), protecting power infrastructure, as well as standby generators and localising security devices to operate independently of the main data centre. Face value How a site looks is more important than you may think. Specify security that appears too hostile risks blatantly advertising that you’re protecting a valuable target, ironically making it more interesting to opportunistic intruders. The heightened security that we recommend to clients for these types of sites, include 4 m high-security fences, coils of razor wire, CCTV, and floodlighting. When used together in an integrated approach, it’s easy to see how they make the site appear hostile against its surroundings. However, it must appear secure enough to give the client peace of mind that the site is adequately protected. Getting the balance right is crucial. So, how do you balance security, acoustics and aesthetics harmoniously? Security comes first These are essential facilities and as a result, they require appropriate security investment. Cutting corners leads to a greater long-term expense and increases the likelihood of highly disruptive attacks. Checkpoints Fortunately, guidance is available through independent accreditations and certifications, such as the Loss Prevention Certification Board’s (LPCB) LPS 1175 ratings, the PAS 68 HVM rating, CPNI approval, and the police initiative - Secured by Design (SBD). Thorough technical evaluation and quality audit These bodies employ thorough technical evaluation work and rigorous quality audit processes to ensure products deliver proven levels of protection. With untested security measures, you will not know whether a product works until an attack occurs. Specifying products accredited by established bodies removes this concern. High maintenance Simply installing security measures and hoping for the best will not guarantee 24/7 protection. Just as you would keep computer software and hardware updated, to provide the best level of protection for the data, physical security also needs to be well-maintained, in order to ensure it is providing optimum performance. Importance of testing physical security parameters Inspecting the fence line may seem obvious and straightforward, but it needs to be done regularly. From our experience, this is something that is frequently overlooked. The research we conducted revealed that 63% of companies never test their physical security. They should check the perimeter on both sides and look for any attempted breaches. Foliage, weather conditions or topography changes can also affect security integrity. Companies should also check all fixtures and fittings, looking for damage and corrosion, and clear any litter and debris away. Accessibility When considering access control, speed gates offer an excellent solution for data centres. How quickly a gate can open and close is essential, especially when access to the site is restricted. The consequences of access control equipment failing can be extremely serious, far over a minor irritation or inconvenience. Vehicle and pedestrian barriers, especially if automated, require special attention to maintain effective security and efficiency. Volume control Data centres don’t generally make the best neighbours. The noise created from their 24-hour operation can be considerable. HVAC systems, event-triggered security and fire alarms, HV substations, and vehicle traffic can quickly become unbearable for residents. Secure and soundproof perimeter As well as having excellent noise-reducing properties, timber is also a robust material for security fencing So, how do you create a secure and soundproof perimeter? Fortunately, through LPS 1175 certification and CPNI approval, it is possible to combine high-security performance and up to 28dB of noise reduction capabilities. As well as having excellent noise-reducing properties, timber is also a robust material for security fencing. Seamlessly locking thick timber boards create a flat face, making climbing difficult and the solid boards prevent lines of sight into the facility. For extra protection, steel mesh can either be added to one side of the fence or sandwiched between the timber boards, making it extremely difficult to break through. A fair façade A high-security timber fence can be both, aesthetically pleasing and disguise its security credentials. Its pleasant natural façade provides a foil to the stern steel bars and mesh, often seen with other high-security solutions. Of course, it’s still important that fencing serves its primary purposes, so make sure you refer to certifications, to establish a product’s security and acoustic performance. Better protected The value of data cannot be overstated. A breach can have severe consequences for public safety and the economy, leading to serious national security implications. Countering varied security threats Data centres are faced with an incredibly diverse range of threats, including activism, sabotage, trespass, and terrorism on a daily basis. It’s no wonder the government has taken an active role in assisting with their protection through the medium of the CPNI and NCSC. By working with government bodies such as the CPNI and certification boards like the LPCB, specifiers can access a vault of useful knowledge and advice. This will guide them to effective and quality products that are appropriate for their specific site in question, ensuring it’s kept safe and secure.

Data explosion: Futureproofing your video surveillance infrastructure
Data explosion: Futureproofing your video surveillance infrastructure

Video surveillance systems are producing more unstructured data than ever before. A dramatic decrease in camera costs in recent years has led many businesses to invest in comprehensive surveillance coverage, with more cameras generating more data. Plus, advances in technology mean that the newest (8K) cameras are generating approximately 800% more data than their predecessors (standard definition). Traditional entry-level solutions like network video recorders (NVRs) simply aren’t built to handle massive amounts of data in an efficient, resilient and cost-effective manner. This has left many security pioneers grappling with a data storage conundrum. Should they continue adding more NVR boxes? Or is there another, better, route? Retaining video data In short, yes. To future proof their video surveillance infrastructure, an increasing number of businesses are adopting an end-to-end surveillance architecture with well-integrated, purpose-built platforms for handling video data through its lifecycle. This presents significant advantages in terms of security, compliance and scalability, as well as unlocking new possibilities for data enrichment. All of this with a lower total cost of ownership than traditional solutions. Security teams would typically delete recorded surveillance footage after a few days or weeks Previously, security teams would typically delete recorded surveillance footage after a few days or weeks. However, thanks to increasingly stringent legal and compliance demands, many are now required to retain video data for months or even years. There’s no doubt that this can potentially benefit investigations and increase prosecutions, but it also puts significant pressure on businesses’ storage infrastructure. Data lifecycle management This necessitates a more intelligent approach to data lifecycle management. Rather than simply storing video data in a single location until it’s wiped, an end-to-end video surveillance solution can intelligently migrate data to different storage platforms and media as it ages. So, how does this work? Video is recorded and analysed on a combination of NVR, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and application servers. Then, it’s moved to resilient file storage for a pre-determined period, where it can be immediately retrieved and accessed for review. Finally, based on policies set by heads of security, data is moved from file storage to highly secure, low-cost archive storage such as an object, tape or cloud. Data is moved from file storage to highly secure, low-cost archive storage Long-term storage This process is known as tiering. It allows businesses to use reliable, inexpensive long-term storage for most of their data, whilst still enabling security pioneers to retrieve video data when the need arises, such as during a compliance audit, or to review footage following a security breach. In a nutshell, it offers them the best of both worlds. Scaling your video surveillance infrastructure can be a headache. Businesses that rely on NVRs – even high-end units with 64 or even 96 hard drives – are finding themselves running out of capacity increasingly quickly. In order to scale, security pioneers then have to procure new boxes. With NVRs, this inevitably involves a degree of guesswork. Should they go for the largest possible option, and risk over provisioning? Or perhaps a smaller option, and risk running out of capacity again? Common management console Security pioneers can easily add or remove storage capacity or compute resources – separately or together As businesses add new cameras or replace existing ones, many end up with inadequate surveillance infrastructure made up of multiple NVR boxes along with several application servers for running other surveillance functions such as access control, security photo databases, analytics, etc. This patchwork approach leaves security pioneers scrambling for capacity, maintaining various hardware footprints, repeating updates and checks across multiple systems, and taking up valuable time that could be better spent elsewhere. By contrast, flexible HCI surveillance platforms aggregate the storage and ecosystem applications to run on the same infrastructure and combine viewing under a common management console, avoiding ‘swivel chair’ management workflows. Plus, they offer seamless scalability. Security pioneers can easily add or remove storage capacity or compute resources – separately or together. Data storage solutions Over time, this ensures a lower total cost of ownership. First and foremost, it removes the risk of over provisioning and helps to control hardware sprawl. This in turn leads to hardware maintenance savings and lower power use. Many security pioneers are now looking beyond simple data storage solutions for their video surveillance footage. Meta tags can provide context around data, making it easier to find and access when needed Instead, they’re asking themselves how analysing this data can enable their teams to work faster, more efficiently and productively. Implementing an end-to-end video surveillance architecture enables users to take advantage of AI and machine learning applications which can tag and enrich video surveillance data. These have several key benefits. Firstly, meta tags can provide context around data, making it easier to find and access when needed. Object storage platform For instance, if security teams are notified of a suspicious red truck, they can quickly find data with this tag, rather than manually searching through hours of data, which can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Plus, meta tags can be used to mark data for future analysis. This means that as algorithms are run over time, policies can be set to automatically store data in the right location. For example, if a video is determined to contain cars driving in and out of your premises, it would be moved to long-term archiving such as an object storage platform for compliance purposes. If, on the other hand, it contained 24 hours of an empty parking lot, it could be wiped. These same meta tags may be used to eventually expire the compliance data in the archive after it is no longer needed based on policy. Video surveillance architecture Continuing to rely on traditional systems like NVRs will fast become unsustainable for businesses Even if your organisation isn’t using machine learning or artificial intelligence-powered applications to enhance your data today, it probably will be one, three, or even five years down the line. Implementing a flexible end-to-end video surveillance solution prepares you for this possibility. With new advances in technology, the quantity of data captured by video surveillance systems will continue rising throughout the coming decade. As such, continuing to rely on traditional systems like NVRs will fast become unsustainable for businesses. Looking forward, when moving to an end-to-end video surveillance architecture, security pioneers should make sure to evaluate options from different vendors. For true futureproofing, it’s a good idea to opt for a flexible, modular solution, which allow different elements to be upgraded to more advanced technologies when they become available.

How can the security industry provide affordable and cost-effective solutions?
How can the security industry provide affordable and cost-effective solutions?

Cost is a reality to be managed. No matter how powerful or desirable a technology may be to a customer, the sale often comes down to the basic question: Can I afford it? And affordability extends not just to the purchase price, but to the cost of technology over its lifespan. In addition to advances in technology capabilities, the security industry has also achieved inroads to make its offerings more worth the cost. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the physical security industry doing to make more affordable and cost-effective technology solutions for end users?