HID and Abloy UK are creating the future of intelligent doors
HID and Abloy UK are creating the future of intelligent doors
At IFSEC 2009, ASSA Abloy launched Hi-O, a new concept for electronic door solutions that improves and simplifies the installation, service and upgrade of access control systems and allows end users to create the first truly "intelligent doors". SourceSecurity.com spoke with Matt Thomas, Managing Director of Abloy UK, and Ian Compton, Director of Sales for UK, IE and Nordics for HID Global, to find out more about Hi-O and how this will change the access control industry. 

What are "intelligent doors"?

Currently, the door access control market tends to be entirely based on proprietary systems developed by specific manufacturers. There is a huge range of independent door solutions in use, ranging from the simplest keys and locks to standalone keypads and magnetic stripe, card and barcode systems. The components of these systems, though, are not intercommunicable, and do not operate in conjunction with those of another manufacturers.  This makes it difficult for companies to easily achieve interoperability through various departments, facilities and locations. It also means that adding new functionality and applications to access control becomes costly and inconvenient and does not provide much flexibility.

The term "intelligent doors" means that all elements and components around the door are able to talk to each other and work in conjunction, offering a fully interoperable solution to organisations, explains Matt Thomas, Managing Director of Abloy UK.

ASSA ABLOY‘s vision is to provide future-proof and innovative products that fulfil our customers' requirements. In order to do so, we focus our research on identifying critical trends within the security industry, which leads to more in-depth product-driven research, testing and development.  This multi-layer approach to studying market trends coupled with product-focused research and development brings us to where we are today, delivering such products as "intelligent doors" to the market.

Convergence and convenience are behind the move towards open architecture, and away from proprietary technology

Two key trends - convergence and convenience - were identified in the research, upon which the new Hi-O "intelligent door" concept is based. Firstly, the increasing convergence of IT and physical security and mechanical and electronic solutions provided the inspiration for Hi-O's use of an open platform. Secondly, a move towards convenience resulted in Hi-Os functionality to allow remote monitoring and enable easy installation, administration and service; it also drove Hi-O's  simple integration with existing access control systems and credentials.

The use of an open platform and the movement away from proprietary technology is perhaps the most crucial feature of the new technology, but other important functionality in the new Hi-O concept include: the ability to easily integrate with other devices; the inclusion of sophisticated remote monitoring, measuring and diagnostics tools; and the unlimited scalability made possible by leveraging of IT infrastructures.

Hi-O: intelligent access control

Hi-O is fundamentally different from proprietary technology in its creation of a standard to ensure that different components around the door will be compatible.  Hi-O technology promotes a proactive, not reactive, attitude to access control by keeping you informed with sophisticated diagnostics. Matt Thomas explained: "If a door isn't working, it will tell you what component is broken; when it was installed; and what the component part number is - so you know what to bring to the site to fix it. In this way, the system saves time and money, promoting a streamlined, cogent approach. It makes you think differently and makes you more efficient in monitoring." 

 Intelligent door components are able to communicate with each other
Intelligent door components communicate with each other

"All components with this new technology communicate and operate together - almost like real intelligence," said Matt Thomas. "Take anything from a reader, to a door closer, to the actual locking mechanism - they are all programmed to know each other are present. This is really quite significant."

Ian Compton, Director of Sales for UK, IE and Nordics for HID Global, adds that: "Hi-O strengthens the value proposition of all companies that sell Hi-O enabled products. HI-O's compatibility with HID Global's iCLASS, for example addresses a need for customers who are seeking seamless solutions for their physical and IT security.   HID's expertise in Identity and Access Management solutions that integrate with all the security related products around the door adds significant value for our customers.

"In response to fundamental market forces, HID Global and Abloy UK work closely together to advance the focus of the access control industry and to deliver convenience and converged solutions to our customers and the industry as a whole."

A flexible, scalable solution with the Edge IP access control system

Unlike an exact equivalent lock not Hi-O-enabled with up to 16 wires, Hi-O is a four-wire solution- two for power, two for data - and is very easily and quickly installed. Hi-O can be used with existing proximity and smart card credentials, and is easily scalable (available in both Solo and host versions). Another very appealing aspect is the Hi-O plug & play functionality, which minimises installation while maximising easy system commissioning. Highlighting the impact of this feature, Matt Thomas states: "The simplicity of the installation is very real. Once plugged in, these products, in effect, commission themselves by talking to each other."

HID's Edge, a Hi-O-enabled IP access control single door system, showcases all the technology's benefits and is the best example of how HID and Abloy UK work together.

Intelligent door products are inherently economical
Intelligent door products are inherently economical

Once Hi-O is installed, Edge, an inbuilt web browser, allows you to administer the system, perform diagnostics checks, produce reports and manage users. Edge will also talk to all other Hi-O-enabled products on the door to give intelligent feedback.

Edge brings IT and security managers together, as it is monitored and managed via the existing IT infrastructure.  This not only addresses the demand for converged physical and IT security, but also meets the need for cutting costs - which, in the current climate, is particularly relevant. Hi-O technology provides a fixed, controlled cost per door. After adding the product to one door, the administrator knows exactly how much installation, product and diagnostics will cost each time - a major benefit for organisations.

Furthermore, Ian Compton mentioned there are important ROI arguments for companies. "The ROI arguments follow on from the products' USPs. Fewer wires mean installation time and labour are effectively minimised. You don't need separate power supplies since the systems utilise existing IT infrastructures. The preventative and predicative maintenance decrease downtime."

These factors will provide "potentially huge manpower savings" for organisations that adopt the technology, Matt Thomas asserts: "There are many circumstances where currently people must do something on site that with this technology could be done remotely and by far fewer people. So, you build up ROI arguments really quite quickly." 

Setting a standard for intelligent doors with unlimited applications

For these products there is really no limit on applications. Asked where they see this technology going, Ian Compton and Matt Thomas are unequivocal: their objective is to make Hi-O the accepted industry standard in achieving intelligent doors. Matt Thomas continued: "The market can be defined pretty broadly. The applications responding early-on are those who will benefit most - to someone responsible for maintaining large systems, the cost-savings could be enormous. Some customers really get this."

Applications which respond early to intelligent door technology will benefit the most

Currently Hi-O products are on trial in a number of companies, with installations in both Sweden (where it was primarily developed) and in Australia. HID and ABLOY are also actively working to further the reach of the new technology.

Matt Thomas explained: "We're currently talking to access control OEMs because Hi-O obviously needs to be integrated with their software to work. The idea is that eventually we'll get to a point where whatever your application, there will be a Hi-O-enabled product available. Currently there are more than 70 Hi-O-enabled products available with the number growing every week."

Taking Hi-O to more doors

HID Global and ABLOY UK are holding a series of events and trainings together in 2009 and 2010 to promote Hi-O as a standard, Hi-O enabled products and Hi-O benefits within the security industry. These events are designed to familiarise and educate as well as map the way forward for specific applications. The two companies will also continue engaging with architects, consultants, specifiers and end-users to increase their knowledge and expertise around a fully-managed door access control solution.

Matt Thomas, Managing Director of Abloy UK  Matt Thomas, Managing Director of Abloy UK
 Ian Compton, Director of Sales for UK, IE and Nordics Ian Compton, Director of Sales for UK, IE and Nordics
HID Global
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