Electrical Contracting News (ECN) March 2017 - Page 40

SPECIAL FEATURE SECURITY ACCESS CONTROL: MAKING A SECURE SELECTION With the evolution of access control systems, electrical contractors need to be aware of the critical issues to consider when it comes to making a robust product selection. Here, Paul Adams, product marketing manager for electronic access and data at dormakaba, offers an overview of the market and looks at the areas to address to ensure a secure and robust solution is in place. Access control systems are by no means a new technology. However, the sheer pace of technological innovation – which now involves greater integration with customers’ IT business solutions – has seen a significant leap in terms of capability and product choice in recent years. As technologies have advanced, the traditional model of having separate mechanical and electrical products is changing. Now, hybrid solutions that offer an integrated approach to access control are offering benefits when it comes to convenience, efficiency, security and cost. The reality is that today, digital hardware and smartphone access provides an ideal opportunity to improve and enhance access control. Bluetooth systems The introduction of Bluetooth enabled technology has allowed for greater flexibility when it comes to access control. Traditional methods of individual identification – such as using fobs or proximity cards – work alongside modern alternative devices such as smartphones with stand alone digital locking technologies. However, as electrical contractors will be well aware, fobs and proximity cards can easily be left at home, lost or passed along to another user. By using Bluetooth enabled technology, smartphones are becoming the key to access control. In today’s society, few people are unlikely to forget their smartphone and even less likely to loan someone their phone in order to access a building. In addition, these systems can be far less expensive in the long term for the end client, by removing the need to replace lost or stolen cards. Also, to enhance security, smartphones can be protected with a PIN number or biometric verification – further enhancing security. Digital hardware and smartphone access provides an ideal opportunity to improve and enhance access control. Overcoming the installation challenges A huge challenge in the installation of access control systems can stem from installing the required software within a customer’s IT environment. The process can be time consuming and can often receive resistance from the client and their IT department. A modern solution to this issue is a cloud based system that involves little to no intervention with clients’ IT environments. Additionally, improved collaboration between the electrical contractor, client and access control provider can significantly improve the delivered solution. If there is clear communication from the start of a project, each level of the supply chain will have an understanding of what system, if any, is already in place, what the needs of the end client are and how the system needs to be adapted. Therefore, a complete solution will be provided much more efficiently. Addressing data security Cloud based access control systems are ideal in meeting the trend of smart offices. These systems can record the movements of business users and this data can then be used for audit, traceability and potential compliance purposes. Electrical contractors may have had customers wary of introducing cloud based systems due to concerns over data security. However, the risk of data hacking is significantly reduced when the access systems installed are from larger companies that can provide the established security infrastructure required for solutions of this type. Another factor that needs to be considered is the way that modern businesses are constantly evolving – their requirements will change throughout the years. Key integrated business solutions, such as access control, need to be flexible and robust in order to meet those changing requirements – growing and adapting as the customers’ needs change. To ensure a lower initial investment cost to the client – and to secure the job – it may seem attractive to invest in a cheaper system. However, door security is not a one-off sale to the client. When specifying systems the electrical contractor needs to consider and highlight where the long term savings can be made, as well as helping to future proof the installation to ensure systems will be forward compatible. Standards and certification Best practice means to identify the companies and products that have certification to the relevant BS or EN standards, such as EN60839 – particularly when installed in line to the guidelines as laid down by bodies such as the National Security Inspectorate and The International Organisation for Standardisation. Today, access control and door security is evolving and embracing new technologies. For electrical contractors, it is crucial to understand the benefits of such systems, to select a solution that is appropriate for the size and complexity of the site, to address the compatibility of software from all parties involved and to select a manufacturing partner that offers the right combination of capability, knowledge and product. Cloud based access control systems are ideal in meeting the trend of smart offices. 40 | March 2017