Articles by John LaFond
Access Control is the second-fastest growing area in the security market. A major shift from PC-based clients systems to solid state, embedded operating systems, browser-based user interfaces, remote services, and changes in compliance legislation are just a few factors driving access control adoption both across the residential and commercial markets. John LaFond, VP of Integrated Systems at Linear LLC, explains these factors and how they contribute to the future of access control. Security, total cost of ownership (TCO) and reliability concerns have sparked a major shift from PC-based client access control and security systems to solid state embedded operating system and browser-based user interfaces. As such, market leaders have engineered innovation in this area leading to a significantly higher growth rate. Lower TCO with embedded access control systems The knowledge of IT-friendly embedded browser services has been taken and applied to create a product that leverages the reliability and security of solid state computer systems designed for the network, running with an embedded Linux operating system. When compared with PC-based systems, embedded products are much less susceptible to risks such as hard drive failures, virus/spyware attacks, and Microsoft updates, which can unknowingly take a system offline. One of the other key advantages of using this type of access control platform is the lower long-term TCO for users, versus other competitive access control systems. How does an embedded system pull this off? It is out-of-the-box ready for faster set-up and doesn’t require software to load or manage. This reduces the risk of operating system compatibility issues and the associated issues of loading and configuring software properly. There is no dedicated workstation hardware or software client to manage and no database software license is required. Furthermore, a common software user can interact across all systems, from basic to more powerful models. Embedded systems are designed to be easily managed by today’s portable devices such as smart phones, tablets, laptops, as well as traditional PC’s. Lower TCO is achieved because the system eliminates the need for ongoing maintenance. Main vertical markets adopting more access control Educational institutions from primary schools to universities are always looking at how they can better secure campuses. Everything from monitoring visitors and restricting access to specific areas, to security cameras and video analytics helps make these institutions more secure. There’s also been an increase in churches and other places of worship investing in access control and heightened security. A lot of this is due to the fact that previously, there was no such security system in place, but the risk of theft or unauthorised entry has also added motivation. Today, it is common practice to deploy access control systems in any facility Health and long-term care facilities represent one of the most promising markets for access control and security segments. Care facilities are increasingly depending on technology to monitor patients and residents while reducing staffing costs. Increased theft of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, coupled with the desire to create better ‘lockdown’ plans, have driven demand for better accountability and tracking of health and care personnel through access control. Within the housing market, multi-dwelling units (MDUs) have invested heavily in access control systems and services for screening visitors and providing better overall security. Particularly, video intercoms have started gaining popularity, especially in premium MDUs, but telephone entry units remain popular as well. Today, it is common practice to deploy access control systems in any facility, from commercial applications where employees expect their work place is safe, to residential applications where convenience and control are required. Major factors influencing access control adoption One of the more recent factors having a positive influence on the adoption of access control is compliance legislation. Many companies are now legally required to bring access control, security and other systems into compliance with instated laws. Failure to comply can result in fines, loss of insurance, audits, or even civil and criminal penalties. Increased commitment to safety is another driving factor behind access control. Companies are finding that it makes sound fiscal sense to mitigate risk as much as possible. Because risks come in many forms, from terminated employees, hazardous areas, and public safety situations to lock outs/ lock downs, and information security, security consultants and installers are able to understand the specific risks and make recommendations to customers accordingly. One of the other key advantages of using this type of access control platform is the lower long-term total cost of ownership (TCO) for users, versus other competitive access control systems Inventory shrinkage, or the loss of products between point-of-manufacture/purchase from supplier and point-of-sale is also giving momentum to the sales of access control products, particularly in the retail sector. Between employee theft, shoplifting, administrative error and vendor fraud, there are many opportunities for shrinkage to occur, most of which can be safeguarded against with an adequate access control system. More recent occurrences like flash mob robberies are bringing increased awareness and motivating businesses to put in lockdown systems to deal with modern threats. Environmental factors play their part as well. Whether it’s for a second home or a chain of remote office or retail locations, people want to receive updates that let them know what’s happening in real time and give them a level of control and access, even if they can’t physically be there. Security distributors and installers need to understand latest technologies With embedded access control systems, there is a common hardware and software platform that can be leveraged across many brands with a consistent user interface and control via traditional computers and control pads, as well as mobile devices. On top of all this is a back end utility that provides dealers with secure remote connectivity to support services. This backend technology is critical for a dealer’s future. All these advancements mean very little if distributors and dealers don’t understand the solutions that they’re capable of offering to end users. Budgets for security and access control are increasing for many businesses around the country, especially since a smartly integrated system can reduce shrinkage, improve safety and increase profitability in a number of ways. Security, reliability, cost of ownership and ease of use remain the biggest concerns, but new embedded systems are changing the way businesses can track their employees, facilities and inventory.