Charles (Chuck) O'Leary
In-person training sessions were largely out of the question during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the need for training continued, and in some cases increased, as the security industry sought to adapt to the changing business climate of a global emergency. So how well did we as an industry adjust? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How has security industry training changed in the last year?
For more than 22 years, Open Options, Addison, Texas, has developed access control solutions that connect to leading security technologies to deliver a full-scale solution based on each customer’s unique needs. In 2018, Open Options was acquired by ACRE, which already owned the Vanderbilt and ComNet brands. To find out the latest, we interviewed Chuck O’Leary, President of Open Options. Q: It has been two and a half years since Open Options was acquired by ACRE. Briefly describe that transition and how the company is stronger today because of it. O’Leary: The ACRE transition really focused on integrating our access control solution, DNA Fusion, with Vanderbilt Industries technologies in order to further our reach in the market and enhance our portfolios. With their support, we have been able to accelerate innovations and expand our global reach. Overall, it has been a great experience to be a part of the ACRE organisation, and it has opened the doors to new opportunities for us both here in the states and globally. Q: What is "Connect Care" and how does it benefit integrators and/or end user customers? O’Leary: For those unfamiliar with the world of access control, it can often be a little overwhelming when first introduced; however, we strive to make our products as easy to use and intuitive as possible, with Connect Care being no different.Connect Care is a system that has been specifically designed to create the most connected experience in the security market Connect Care is a system that has been specifically designed to create the most connected experience in the security market. It serves as a 24/7 bridge from our customers to services like technical support, platform support, professional services, and training. By providing these options for our customers, we can better empower them with the knowledge and expertise of our DNA Fusion access control system and ensure their success with the product. Q: Who are the new customers entering the market for access control systems in the wake of the pandemic, and how should they be approached/managed differently? O’Leary: Over the last year, there has been a huge demand for access control systems as remote work increased due to COVID-19, and even now, as employees and students are heading back into the offices and schools. Organisations are realising that having an outdated security system is no longer robust enough for the rapid advancement of technology that we witnessed over the course of the pandemic, and really the past few years. For those who are just dipping their toe into a new access control deployment, the most important thing they can do is to search for a provider who has a solution that is easily integrated, scalable, and provides excellent training and resources. Q: Define the term "touchless access control" and explain why it is gaining a higher profile in the post-pandemic world. O’Leary: The interesting thing about access control is that it has almost always been touchless. Many organisations are looking for robust solutions that are touchless and can be utilised remotely, and it's fairly easy to understand why a solution like this would become widely popular because of COVID-19.Integrators are searching for access control systems that will serve as a proper solution for organizations The process of using access control to streamline security infrastructures is not a new concept by any means, but due to the rapid development in technology over the past few years, more integrators are searching for access control systems that will serve as a proper solution for organisations, while still supplying the touchless and remote-based features. Q: What do you see as the future course of the changing technology trends we see in today's market (such as mobile credentials, cloud-based systems, cybersecurity, etc.)? O’Leary: As we continue to tread through the different technological developments in the market today, we are noticing that mobile credentials and biometrics are becoming increasingly popular. As cybersecurity and mobility continue to become more important, we are also seeing the rapid jump to the cloud. By utilising cloud-based systems, an organisation is not hindered by a lack of storage or old software and gains the flexibility to scale their security system as their business grows. Q: How will the access control market look different five years from now versus today? What about 10 years from now? O’Leary: Within the next five years, I suspect that access control will continue to make the move towards cloud-based systems and utilise mobile credentials and biometrics. In 10 years, I think all access control will be open platform and many more organisations will embrace cloud solutions for increased functionality. Also, innovations will continue to be the drivers behind new deployments with some installations being biometrics only and include recognising fingerprints, retina scans, facial recognition, and voice. Q: What is the biggest challenge currently facing the access control market, and how should manufacturers (including Open Options) be addressing the challenge? O’Leary: One of the biggest challenges facing the physical access control market is organisations actually making the shift to more up-to-date access control systems. Organisations are looking to adopt more digital-focused access control experiencesOrganisations are looking to adopt more digital-focused access control experiences — ones that are focused on integration, newer features, cybersecurity, and ease of monitoring. Access control manufacturers should be addressing this challenge by creating integratable, scalable systems that are easily managed and provide a structured, streamlined approach for an organisation’s security infrastructure. Q: What is the biggest misconception about access control? O’Leary: Access control is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and some organisations might have different standards or assets that need protection. This is why it's vital to know the risks your organisation faces when speaking with access control providers — to ensure the best possible outcome for your specific needs. It's important to remember that whatever access control system is chosen should proactively mitigate any risks, be easily taught to and successfully used by employees, and be scalable with your organisation. No matter the line of work, a proper access control system should streamline the security infrastructure and lessen stress on the security team and employees.
Open Options, a provider of innovative access control solutions, continues to build upon its commitment to innovation with the launch of Fusion X. This new web-based access control software includes all the benefits of the robust DNA Fusion platform but requires no software installation, or dedicated PC required. Fusion X The built-in web server allows programming and maintenance from any Internet-enabled browser and is designed using Flex API v2, based on the flexible Html5 platform. With Fusion X, customers can benefit from a thin client solution that eliminates the need for running full versions of DNA Fusion on multiple PCs throughout the location. Access control system anytime, anywhere “Customers are increasingly looking for solutions that increase workplace productivity and value,” said Chuck O’Leary, President, Open Options. Fusion X allows users to benefit from a reduction in expenses, and an increase in security and productivity “With Fusion X, security and IT leaders do not need to resolve issues at the end-user desktop location. Rather, they can maintain the system remotely using any device that can access a web browser." "This seamless and streamlined process empowers organisations with a higher level of usability and management, allowing users to benefit from a reduction in expenses, and an increase of security and productivity.” Access through a common interface In addition to Fusion X, Open Options is releasing DNA Fusion 8.0, a major update to their DNA Fusion software. Because access control brings the need for streamlined security, it can often have certain limitations when deployed in enterprise-sized organisations. Open Options works to alleviate these issues by supplying personnel management, setting use limits, adding and removing access, and more. DNA Fusion also enables stakeholders to monitor several systems, including audio and IP video recording, through a common interface. This new robust update will allow users to convert from legacy access levels to access level groups through a new utility. DNA Fusion 8.0 will also provide customers with the ability to integrate Schindler solutions for those who need to support multiple systems or endpoints. DNA Fusion 8.0 is required to run Fusion X, and both are available for immediate release.
Open Options, a provider of innovative access control solutions, announced the launch of ACT ID, a new cloud-based mobile credential app that enables organisations to utilise smartphones with existing WaveLynx multi-technology readers for secure access to doors in office buildings, government facilities, healthcare institutions, schools, residences and a growing variety of enterprises. Mobile credentials ACT ID is integrated into Open Options’ flagship software, DNA Fusion, providing a user-friendly experience with the digital security and convenience of mobile credentials. “Companies are increasingly wanting to transition from traditional physical credentials to mobile credentials with the same or better level of security”, says Chuck O’Leary, President of Open Options. “The ACT ID app is a perfect solution as it allows users of DNA Fusion software, paired with WaveLynx multi technology readers, to easily upgrade to mobile technology with little effort. Many people already carry smart and mobile devices as a part of their working lives, and by moving to a mobile ecosystem, organisations can better position themselves to take advantage of built-in technologies such as biometrics, multi-factor authentication, and geo fencing without adding expensive hardware.” Flexible and affordable solution ACT ID works seamlessly with WaveLynx Ethos Wiegnd/OSDP readers for a touchless experience in which users hold their phone close to the reader and open a door. The application does not require any subscriptions or fees, making it an extremely flexible and affordable solution that allows organisations to transition to mobile access at their own pace. The mobile application supports NFC for Android and BLE for iOS and provides complete user privacy as all data is stored in a separate secure element. Its simplistic design and ease-of-use eliminates the need for manual verification, as ACT ID communicates securely with DNA Fusion by syncing data daily for authentication and verification of ID.
What many security professionals are yet to realise is how COVID-19 has led to fundamental changes in security policies that will ultimately affect them. The introduction of medical technology, such as thermal scanners, to access control implementations is a new phenomenon. The coronavirus pandemic has propelled a new requirement onto organisations to conduct health checks – specifically, body temperature checks – at the door before an employee, contractor or visitor is given access to a building. A fever could be an indication that the person is infected with COVID-19. When a fever is detected, the person’s card (employee badge) will not open the door. Integrating thermal detection and access control The sudden, unexpected need of thermal detection to be integrated into physical access control is emerging as the “new normal.” Convergence of these technologies are rapidly being considered a best practice, as organisations look to reopen in compliance with public health guidance, prioritising the protection of people’s health. One company that is dealing with this new challenge to integrate health monitoring technologies with access control is Open Options, a provider of software-based, open platform access control solutions. The company is actively advising its customers and partners on preparations for reopening buildings and campuses with the merging of temperature checks and access control. “We have been having discussions with a variety of our customers, who are being forced to completely alter their business practices,” said Chuck O’Leary, President, Open Options. No longer is access control just about getting people through a door “No longer is access control just about getting people through a door, with the familiar ‘who, when and where’ aspects of physical access. Now, it’s also about ensuring the health of people.” New vetting processes In addition to adding thermal detection – essentially acting as a touchless thermometer to take people’s temperature one person at a time – a new vetting process is now being mandated or, in some places, at least strongly recommended. For example, the visitor management system collects data on an individual and asks a list of questions that can be used for vetting possible risks for carriers of COVID-19 -- questions such as “Have you been outside the Country recently?” and “Have you been in close proximity of someone who is known to have COVID-19?” The pre-authorization process for access also now requires verification that the person is wearing a mask. The president of Open Options also stated that there are in-depth discussions happening in the security industry about the use of mobile devices and Bluetooth for contact tracing and monitoring where people go in a building. Contact tracing If an infected person somehow gains access to the building (perhaps due to being asymptomatic), a company would still be able to “contact trace” every interaction that the infected person had with others in the building in previous days. A mobile device can act as a “beacon” that is tracked. Information from it can be piped in through the access control software platform, according to O’Leary. This information becomes highly relevant for facilitating quarantines and other healthcare actions in order to limit or stop an outbreak in a building. Furthermore, how people interact with card readers at doors is expected to change. Employees and visitors are likely to want to avoid touching a keypad reader or tapping a card on a reader in fear of the potential risk of catching the coronavirus. Legacy readers with keypads and older, inefficient technology will likely need to be replaced in the post-COVID-19 world. Rethinking access control “You may want to consider more sophisticated technologies that will save time, money and hassle in the long run,” added O’Leary. Rethinking access control will take much more than just putting a bottle of hand sanitiser on the front desk of a lobby. Rethinking access control will take much more than just putting a bottle of hand sanitiser on the front desk Software becomes integral as the cohesive “glue” to tie it all together for security management, according to the head of Open Options. Customisation, which generates the need for more professional services, is expected to increase. A robust set of APIs become useful to rapidly meet integration requirements. “Being able to integrate with other technologies, such as thermal scanners, contact tracing apps or contactless technology, is important,” said O’Leary. “While a proprietary approach locks a customer in, an open approach is more adaptable as policies and protocols continue to change and evolve with mitigation strategies for COVID-19.” Four tips to handle the new complexity Based on the training programs that it is offering to integrators and end-user customers on how to prepare for reopening buildings and do it safely and responsibly, Chuck O’Leary offered four tips for security professionals to consider when moving forward amid the “new normal” in a post-COVID world. Communicate realistic expectations that all employees, contractors and visitors are now expected to participate in a pre-authorisation health check before getting access to the building. Create an environment where there is some level of comfort and assurance that the location is at a lower risk for spreading the virus. Realise that your organisation can no longer operate with people going in and out freely. Stay vigilant about cybersecurity, using encrypted technology to prevent hacking of new devices, such as thermal scanners, connected to your organisation’s network. “There is now a shift away from an open campus environment. You don’t get to just walk into a building anymore,” said the president of Open Options. “You aren’t free to walk around a corporate campus, bypassing health checks and entering buildings like you used to.” You don’t get to just walk into a building anymore The new convergence of access control and thermal detection to comply with new security policies and public health guidelines is reshaping the experience of walking into a building. Having an authorised credential, such as a plastic card, a keyfob or a smart phone credential, is not enough anymore. Now, not only do they have to wear a mask, but people also need to prove they don’t have a fever for their credential to work at all. Security professionals likely never guessed they’d one day need to oversee health checks, too.
ACRE, a global provider of state-of-the-art security and communication networking systems, announced that it will add two key industry people to the ACRE management roster. Jim Kelly will join ACRE as Chief Revenue Officer starting on March 1, 2020. Jim brings a wealth of experience having had successful positions at Software House, Sensormatic, Tyco International and Johnson Controls. Accelerating growth While at Software House, Jim led the sales and marketing efforts to build the business from $2 million to $120 million in North America. While at Johnson Controls, Jim was responsible for developing sales plans to achieve revenue goals for more than a dozen brands in the JCI Security Products division. ACRE’s CEO, Joseph Grillo stated, “Hiring Jim will add depth at the ACRE management level that can help catapult us to the next level. The ACRE brands have a well-established reputation for world-class service and support; therefore, Jim’s focus will be to devise marketing, sales and channel strategies to accelerate the growth and build on the successes already achieved within the businesses.” Doubling business Chuck O’Leary will also join the management team. Chuck, whose successful track record includes managing the sales organisations at Honeywell, Stanley Security Solutions and consistently leading the LenelS2 business to record results, will transition to the position of President of Open Options based in Addison, Texas. Chuck brings 25 years of sales leadership to the team. Current Open Options President, Steve Wagner, stated, “Chuck’s sales and management skills are perfectly suited to assure Open Options achieves its goal of doubling the business over the next five years, and I look forward to working with him as we transition the leadership of this great company.”