More attention needs to be placed on the development of readers that can accommodate Wireless and Wi-Fi technology Many of the changes in the access control market are happening at the “edge” – at the reader level. Access control advances that continue to become more widespread include wireless and PoE-enabled access control hardware such as wireless locks and PoE door controllers, which both reduce installation costs. Other trends are related to mobility; one is the increased use of smart phones and tablets for day-to-day access control operations. Another is the increased adoption of mobile credentials – leveraging near field communications (NFC) or Bluetooth Low Energy (LE)-enabled technologies that allow smart phones to be used as access control credentials to enter a building instead of traditional credentials such as cards. Emerging technology platforms can fragment and hinder the market, among both integrators and end users. Do we install and use Bluetooth, NFC or the latest in biometrics? Are they safe, proven, and are there standards? “Only time will prove which technologies are better,” says Greg Hetrick, PCSC’s director of marketing. “Until then, it’s anyone’s guess, often at the expense of real-world scenarios. By the time it’s proven, new technologies become available. The cycle is always turning.” The best approach is to find the right balance between today’s and tomorrow’s technologies, he adds. Wireless and Wi-Fi technology is inching into the access control space, and because of this, more attention needs to be placed on the development of readers that can accommodate this technology. Accompanying issues include the level of integration with traditional physical access control systems and safety concerns when recommending and deploying these devices, says Robert Laughlin, president of Galaxy Control Systems. John L. Moss, CEO of S2 Security, sees access control evolving in the next five years in relation to “bring your own device (BYOD),” global distributed systems in the cloud, and inexpensive wireless locksets. “With the ubiquity of smart phones and BYOD, people will use mobile devices as personal credentials, either with Bluetooth LE or by using an app built into the device,” he says. “New business models will evolve around these new technologies that will benefit end users through reduced total cost of ownership and integrators through a shorter replacement cycle, which is typically long in access control,” Moss comments. Hetrick believes that in the near future, smart phones or wearables will become the primary source for card access, door entry, system access, payments, health information and identification In the near future, access credentials will become more mobile and more portable, whether physical or cloud-based. “Your smart phone or wearable (smart watch) will become your primary source for card access, for door entry, system access, payments, health information and identification,” Hetrick says. Virtual credentials may live in the cloud versus on a device. If someone switches to a new employer, for example, no new credentials will be assigned. Rather, they are simply authorised and activated by the new employer and deactivated by the previous one. When it’s time to upgrade a device, the credentials are available via the cloud to the new device, Hetrick says. “Device security will improve via biometrics (fingerprint, i.e., Touch ID; and perhaps facial recognition using a device’s camera) with multiple forms of authentication and rolling encryption,” Hetrick says. “As a manufacturer, we hear about biometrics, NFC, these are all things we see, but it’s hard to integrate them into our platform,” says John Smith, senior channel marketing manager, Honeywell Security. “There are 100 different biometrics, not operating to a standard. Most of our systems can work with these things, most have a Wiegand or standard output, but the enrollment piece might be a problem and require a separate application. We as a manufacturer are watching it closely, but we haven’t seen it as a big draw.” For example, a predominant leader hasn’t emerged relative to NFC. Also, biometric readers are three to 10 times more expensive than a card reader, so cost justification has to come down, he adds. Jason Ouellette, product line director, access control, Tyco Security, suggests the future of access control will be a matter of “back to the future.” He expects more access control systems will be based on a cloud environment, reminiscent of the days of mainframe computers. The edge devices that provide the monitoring, reporting and day-to-day management of access control will be comparable to yesterday’s “dumb” terminals. “Additionally, we will see a shift from the traditional plastic cards and fobs to electronic credentials managed through smart devices like mobile phones and tablets,” he adds. “One more shift will be the use of biometrics, such as facial recognition, for access control, which will create a ‘frictionless’ mode of access control as the technology improves,” Ouellette says. “While the technology of cloud-based servers over mainframes and tablets or mobile phones provides far greater capabilities, it will also drastically change the way access control is installed, managed and encountered by end users over the next five years.” More access control systems will be based on a cloud environment, reminiscent of the days of mainframe computers. The edge devices that provide the monitoring, reporting and day-to-day management of access control will be comparable to yesterday’s “dumb” terminals Richard Goldsobel, vice president, Continental Access, sees some movement to more secure (than Wiegand) RS-485 readers. However, he says the the hype for access control right now revolves around moving the access credential to smart phones, using either NFC or Bluetooth LE technology to communicate with the reader. Problem is, the technologies are battling, and both have their pros and cons, but the functionality will be similar. The convenience of the credential on the phone, of course, is the major driving factor, but the functionality also raises some new security concerns. Security may dictate that additional functions be running on the smart phone app, such as biometrics or PIN processing. However, a need for additional actions to be performed on the phone will reduce convenience, says Goldsobel. “Your smart device will continue to play a larger role in the systems,” agrees Greg Love, vice president of sales, AMAG. “You can manage the system and get into the area, all with the same device.” He also sees additional options ahead for hosted, Web or embedded solutions – all from one manufacturer. “The customer can make the choice of how they would like to manage their security,” he says. New solutions will extend above and beyond access control and video management – including risk management, emergency preparedness and enhanced reporting outside of security responsibility. “It’s more of a total facility management system that takes advantage of the network in its entirety,” says Love. New technologies also bring new risks. Hetrick says the market should consider carefully issues related to credential and identity security, whether lost, stolen, duplicated or authenticated. “Can an access point identify that the access device authenticates the actual physical identify of the user?” he asks. “Is a lost card or hacked and stolen mobile device with NFC access able to open a secure door? Or is the access point also smart, i.e., able to use facial recognition to confirm that the card or device and the user are indeed one and the same, and therefore authorized? Or is this just a duplicate access device or card being used by a criminal? Can a duress situation be discreetly announced and identified, perhaps granting access while simultaneously notifying authorities? Will virtual and cloud-based credentials be at risk for attack, theft or duplication? Technology opens new layers of security risks. Are these risks masked, unforeseen? What preventions can be enabled?” Smith of Honeywell says the traditionally slow-moving access control market is being forced to embrace new and changing technologies, and many installers are not comfortable with the situation. It takes a lot for a dealer to change its products or business model. Some are resistant to change, and others have a hard time finding qualified talent to deal with new technologies. “We are lagging behind technology as a whole,” says Smith. “A lot of dealers we have are resistant, it doesn’t fit their current business model, and they will have to change.”
Training and education are essential elements of success in the access control market for integrators and end users alike. Whether one is a seasoned veteran or still new to the industry, continued training and education are critical given that access control technologies continue to evolve at a rapid pace. System integrators who do not take advantage of manufacturers’ training seminars are short-changing themselves and their customers, contends Robert Laughlin, president of Galaxy Control Systems. Those who participate in access control training programs and are certified installing dealers can set themselves apart by being more knowledgeable. From a return-on-investment perspective, successful completion of a training program can heighten an employee’s confidence in their ability to solve a customer problem and enable him or her to be more proficient in installing an access control system with fewer costly mistakes, Laughlin adds. It’s a challenge for integrators to keep up with changing technologies, agrees Greg Love, vice president of sales, AMAG. Among the obstacles is a need for training on IT standards and an understanding of network administration. “Our industry doesn’t seem to roll out new technologies as quickly as the video market,” comments Love. Rapidly changing technologies include biometrics, video analytics, wireless communications, locking systems, encryption options, NFC and Bluetooth LE. All of them need to be supported by access control. Integrators and end users should partner with a vendor who will readily provide support and education on access control trends and technologies “Understanding the benefits of the various offerings in each of these categories alone requires significant time and effort,” says Richard Goldsobel, vice president, Continental Access. Not to mention the need to convey the information to integrators and, especially, to end users. Goldsobel sees greater use over the last several years of video clips (available from both corporate websites and social media) as a mechanism to present information to help end users see and understand existing and new technologies. Understanding the intricacies of networks and newer IP-enabled access control devices can be overwhelming to end users moving to IP access control, says Jimmy Palatsoukas, senior product marketing manager, Genetec. However, newer technologies can help, as devices are becoming more intelligent, automatically connecting to the network with little or no manual intervention. Devices can now automatically obtain an IP address, and advanced IP access control software can automatically detect the devices on the network. For the integrator, these advancements in IP access control systems simplify the installation and maintenance. To help in keeping up to date with these advancements, integrators and end users should partner with a vendor who will readily provide support and education on access control trends and technologies. Maintaining current access control knowledge will also help ensure end users are able to maximize their IP access control investments, now and in the future, says Palatsoukas.
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.