Cards, Cloud, Compliance Lead Access Control Advances

Innovations in physical and logical access control are giving integrators newfound opportunities to provide end users with greater system capabilities. Find out what’s going on in the realm of managed/hosted cloud-based alternatives, HSPD-12/FIPS-201 federal government compliance and near-field communications.

<p>Software applications that facilitate the validation of PIV and other similar credentials and verify a cardholder’s identity are helping systems integrators migrate their end-user customers to more secure access control solutions. Photo courtesy Codebench</p>“These are companies in verticals that have traditionally been frontrunners in deploying strong authentication, such as financial services and high tech,” says Julian Lovelock, vice president, product marketing, HID Global.

Significant pain points do exist when deploying PIV-I and CIV standards into legacy systems, as Geri Castaldo, CEO of Coconut Creek, Fla.-based Codebench, a software development firm for physical security applications, explains.

“The biggest issue is most access control systems cannot accommodate a PIV-I card because the card number itself is far larger than what that access control system head-end or panel can accommodate,” she says. “So the access control companies that want to play in that space need to modify their systems to be able to accommodate a much larger card number.”

New software applications that facilitate the validation of PIV and other similar credentials and verify a cardholder’s identity are helping systems integrators migrate their end-user customers to more secure solutions.

“We see a lot of legacy systems out there today that will not accommodate the extensive amount of data that needs to be handled with a PIV credential. The hardware itself is limited. The database architecture that was once commonplace cannot handle it,” says Donald Woody, senior technology executive, Tyco Integrated Security, Federal Systems Division. “This results in an upgrade, and it’s what’s driving this business with new requests for quotations.”

NFC Rising on the Horizon

Projected by advocates to eventually transform the way physical access control systems are designed and deployed, near-field communication (NFC) has the makings to be a gathering storm in the security industry.

In a nutshell, NFC-enabled mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, communicate with each other at short distances to facilitate two-way transactions, data exchange and wireless connections. Popular in parts of Europe and Asia, the technology has made its biggest inroads in the U.S. for retail transactions. As an example, Google launched Google Wallet to make purchases via a smartphone that can transmit a customer’s encrypted credit card data to the merchant.

Still in an embryonic stage as a full-fledged access security device, the NFC-enabled smartphone can become an identity credential within an existing physical access control system. NFC operates at 13.56MHz, the same frequency as contactless smart card technology.

Two access control specialists in particular — Ingersoll Rand and HID Global — are leading proponents of NFC technology in the security space. Both companies are developing integrated product lines based on the technology.

A promising factor in the adoption of NFC-enabled ID credentials is the continued proliferation of smartphones. By some estimates there are already more than  1 billion smartphone users worldwide, out of which 91.4 million reside in the U.S. And although few smartphones today are equipped with NFC chips, the sheer rate of adoption of mobile communications is going to change the way the access control industry evolves in the years to come, as John Fenske, vice president of product marketing for HID Global, explained during a recent Webinar.

“As NFC technology gets enabled into smartphones, and digital keys that we’re able to provide, there are opportunities for paradigm changes in our industry,” he says. “For example, 5% of all doors in a given facility have some kind of electronic access control. The rest of the doors are secured by some kind of mechanical lock and key or not secured at all.”

According to Fenske, there are more than 650,000 locks in the hospitality industry alone that are deployed today that have the ability to be configured to work with NFC-enabled smartphones. Further examples of NFC-enabled products that are aligned with the physical access control space are biometrics devices, time and attendance, even electronic vehicle charging stations. “There are really a lot of directions this technology can move.”

The migration to NFC-enabled systems will be a slow, meticulous transition; technology-enabled plastic cards are not going to go away any time soon. The marketplace currently views the NFC-enabled smartphone for identity as a supplemental technology to the traditional plastic credential. “Enterprises, universities, governments all continue to have a need for photo identification and plastic cards for that purpose,” Fenske says.

The caveat for installing security contractors is to be prepared to transition your organization to take advantage of these new market opportunities.

“The NFC ecosystem needs to evolve, but there are things we can do now to enable this,” Fenske says. “You need to start thinking about the future your business to take advantage of mobile access.”   

Rodney Bosch is Managing Editor for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. He can be reached at (310) 533-2426.

About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for latimes.com. Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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