Articles by Frank Piazza
The software-based technology running today’s access control systems is ideal for creating custom solutions for very specific end-user needs. Those needs may vary from delaying bar patrons’ access to a shooting range to reducing the risk of diamond miners pocketing precious stones. The ability to tightly integrate with and control video, intrusion, and other equipment puts access control at the heart of enterprise security. Often, off-the-shelf access systems provide most of the features an end user requires, but due to their type of business, facility or location, some organisations still have unaddressed needs. That’s where a custom solution can fulfill an essential task. Custom solutions are frequently requested by end users or the reseller to expand access control to meet those needs. Here’s a look at some custom solutions designed for end users. Area & time-based access control The owners of a popular shooting range also operate an onsite, full-service bar, and the owners wanted to delay entry to the shooting range once a customer had consumed alcoholic beverages at the bar. The custom solution works with the access cards customers use to enter the range. When a patron orders an alcoholic beverage, the bartender presents the patron’s credential to a reader at the cash register. With each drink, the access control system puts an automatic delay on the card being used to enter the shooting range. An area and time-based control solution was created An area and time-based control solution was created for a major pharmaceutical manufacturer concerned with potential contamination between laboratories testing viral material and others designing new vaccines. If an employee uses a badge to enter a room with viral material, that employee can be denied access to a different area (typically a clean room in this case), for a customised period of time. This reduces the potential of cross contamination between ‘dirty’ and ‘clean’ rooms. The software can be customised by room combinations and times. Random screening A mine operator wanted to prevent easily portable precious stones from being taken by miners. The custom solution uses the access control system integrated with time and attendance software. As the miners clock in, the system randomly and secretly flags a user-defined percentage of them to be searched as their shifts end. Security guards monitor displays and pull selected employees aside. A nice feature of this solution is that the random screening can be overridden at a moment’s notice. For example, if the process causes excessive delays, guards can override the system to enable pre-selected miners to pass until the bottleneck is relieved. The solution has also been adopted by a computer manufacturer looking to control theft by employees and vendors. Scheduler The system automatically unlocks and locks doors A custom solutions team integrated a university’s class scheduling and access control software to lock doors to classrooms that are not in use. With the custom solution in place, the system automatically unlocks and locks doors 15 minutes prior to and after a class. The doors remain unlocked if the room will be used again within the next 30 minutes. Readers mounted at each door enable faculty to enter rooms early for class setup or to work in a lab knowing students or others won’t be able to walk in. Event management This solution simplifies the visitor check-in process, especially for larger events with multiple guests. Efficiently moving people in and out of events booked at a working intelligent office building and conference center required integrating the access control system with a web-based solution storing the names, email addresses, and phone numbers of invited guests. Before an event, guests receive an email invitation that includes a link to a downloadable smartphone mobile credential. Upon arrival, guests present that credential to Bluetooth readers at the building’s gated parking garage. The same credential enables smaller groups (up to 50 guests) to enter the building through turnstile-mounted readers – also used throughout the day by hundreds of building employees. To avoid long lines for larger groups of visitors, the turnstiles are kept open with security guards using handheld readers to authenticate credentials as guests enter the lobby. Additionally, a third-party emergency notification system was added to this custom solution. Guests receive instructions on their smartphones should there be a need to shelter in place or evacuate during an event. The credentials and notifications are disabled as guests leave the building through the turnstiles. This allows the hospital to maintain a secure environment while providing a simplified, efficient access solution Similar custom solutions have been deployed at hospitals searching for a way to provide secure access to patients only expected to be staying a short time for surgery. Patients are emailed a mobile credential to access both the hospital’s parking structure and surgical reception area. They can also designate family members and other visitors to receive emailed mobile credentials. This allows the hospital to maintain a secure environment while providing a simplified, efficient access solution for patients and visitors. Custom solutions are about problem solving. It’s finding answers to needs not specifically addressed by an access control system. The robust software of modern access control systems enables the design of custom solutions to efficiently enhance security, save time and reduce redundant tasks through automated processes.
In-person training sessions were mostly canceled 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?