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. 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.
Access control systems that leverage proprietary technologies severely limit system flexibility Access control’s ongoing transition from closed systems to more open integration provides benefits for integrators, and especially for end users looking to maximise their system return on investment. End users want greater flexibility, specifically in terms of hardware choice. As a result, more non-proprietary solutions are coming to market. For the integrator, offering more open access control solutions provides an edge over competitors, freeing up the integrator to suggest and install various types of IP access control devices from multiple vendors that work with a single unified or universal access control softwaresolution. The market is working to overcome a tradition of proprietary systems. Many manufacturers have been predominantly proprietary, especially related to core control. Openness will create a need for different costing models, says John Smith, senior channel marketing manager, Honeywell Security. “We as manufacturers have to adapt to meet the demand for openness in the industry by making ourselves open and finding additional ways to capture revenue from our products and services.” Access control systems that leverage proprietary technologies severely limit system flexibility and choice of hardware available to end users and integrators, especially when systems near end-of-life, says Jimmy Palatsoukas, senior product marketing manager, Genetec. “It can be extremely costly to maintain or replace closed-architecture systems as technology continues to evolve, leaving end users in a position where they must consider a potentially costly system replacement,” he adds. “A shift toward greater openness with IP access control systems is helping end users extend the life of their systems,” adds Palatsoukas. Intelligent controllers such as Genetec’s Synergis Master Controller allow end users to keep existing equipment and phase in new wireless and PoE door hardware over time, thus minimizing upgrade costs, he says. Systems need open databases, open standards and open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Products should be compatible with each other regardless of the manufacturer, achievable using industry standards and protocols. Offerings and solutions should be consolidated and minimised to provide only the necessary solutions and features, says Greg Hetrick, PCSC’s director of marketing. “Essentially, less always becomes more,” he comments. Several suppliers mentioned other aspects related to the need for open systems: Both venders must be committed to finding a resolution for any challenges that arise Finger-pointing: Who’s responsible? “Most people in the security industry have at least one horror story about trying to integrate two solutions or trying to manage an integration over time,” says Jeremy Krinitt, general manager of Frontier Security. “Often integration challenges lead to two manufacturers who are unsure where the problem really lies, which results in a lot of finger-pointing that doesn’t help the integrator or the end user find a reasonable solution.” Both venders must be committed – in resources and in partnership – to finding a resolution for any challenges that arise, he says. Compatibility issues among product versions When combining systems using integration, compatibility is typically limited to specific product versions. For example, once a video surveillance system is upgraded, the integration with access control could become faulty or fail completely. Krinitt says technology can help by providing consistent interfaces between solutions to ensure flexibility to upgrade either of the solutions without loss of the interface. Also, a unified platform from a single vendor is intrinsically backward-forward compatible, thus eliminating any future compatibility issues, says Palatsoukas of Genetec. Standards that lack full functionality “As much as we like to talk about standards within the industry and how everything should be plug-and-play, we still seem to struggle with that,” says Greg Love, vice president of sales, AMAG. “There are base features that are supported, but most end users only hear that ‘it integrates.’ When the system is installed, and it doesn’t perform one of the tasks the customer expected, we end up providing that for free (as an add-on).” Some systems are integrated only on a basic level (based on ONVIF standards, for example), but end users expect the full value of every feature on the device. “We need to do a better job of communicating the level of integration,” says Love. “The end user community isn’t getting the whole story.” A broader spectrum of systems needing integration Today’s access control systems must integrate with a growing number of devices, including wireless locking systems, VMS software, elevator control software, environmental controls and lighting systems. Access control also has to integrate with high-end software like physical security information management (PSIM) software. Some manufacturers provide APIs, which allow integration components to be fairly stable and consistent. Others write specific interfaces, which can be advantageous in terms of performance and features, but development resources are required to keep up with any changes. Either way, the development requests and pace continues to escalate, says Richard Goldsobel, vice president, Continental Access.
The newest version of Frontier R4 now supports a stronger integration between Frontier Access and Frontier Video Frontier Security, a developer of integrated enterprise security management solutions for more than 35 years, recently announced the newest updates to Frontier R4, a powerful yet easy-to-use security management solution. The enhancements to Frontier are designed to meet the needs of customers who are looking for an enterprise-class and extremely reliable integrated security solution with an intuitive Web-based interface. The newest version of Frontier R4 now supports a stronger integration between Frontier Access and Frontier Video, which streamlines the way in which access control and video work together. For example, associations are now present not only to alarms, but also to card transactions such as access granted and access denied, allowing easy review of activity with corresponding video. The Frontier Web Client has also been updated to improve Web-based management and administration. From any standard Web browser, users can tap into new features such as calendar setup, real-time status of elevators and floors, and real-time status updates of devices and controllers. The Web client also enables viewing of alarm history and alarm action plans. Operators can assign alarm routing groups in the alarm queue, and add comments to alarm actions. Overall, the Frontier Web Client allows users to access its rich features from any Web browser or tablet, enhancing mobility while retaining ease of use to streamline user training. The usability of the Frontier solution has been further streamlined with this new release. Icons have been updated with a new design to allow operators to quickly understand the current states of devices, alarms and doors. At the same time, an upgrade installation package enables quick and easy installation. "The advancements to Frontier demonstrate our commitment to enabling users to benefit from new levels of security intelligence,” said Jeremy Krinitt, General Manager, Frontier Security. "Through its enhanced flexibility, Frontier helps our clients maximise control of their businesses and their security efforts with advanced features and user-friendly interfaces.” To learn more about Frontier, visit the company at booth #1518 at the 2014 Every Building Conference & Expo in Orlando
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