There is always a tradeoff between security and costs. Since organizations can’t afford to place an armed guard at each door 24/7, they rely on video cameras, access control systems and intrusion alarms to stand watch. While card readers have been in use for decades, new IP-based access control systems can not only lower initial costs, but are easier to administer and improve the level of security.
Traditional door access control systems use centralized control panels with unintelligent card readers at the doors. In a multi-site installation, these readers are wired back to a central control panel. They also require running a separate power connection to each of the door’s ancillary hardware devices and accessories like the lock, REX button, door open sensor, etc.
Over the years, however, more intelligent IP-based devices have been developed that embed the intelligence (business rules/permissions) in the card reader, eliminating the need for control panels. They also use the existing Ethernet networks for both power and data connectivity, providing a more flexible and scalable security system installation. These advances in door access lower the cost of ownership in five important ways.
No. 1: Lower Equipment Costs
Traditional door access systems required a high initial capital investment for equipment and wiring. The organization first had to purchase a control panel, then a card reader, and a controller for each door. Each panel was limited in terms of the number of doors it could manage. Adding one door over that limit required purchase of an additional control panel. Each door also required running both power and data connections to the control panel and to separate power supplies.
IP-based door access technology does away with the control panel and specialized wiring entirely. The IP reader/controller simply hooks into the organization’s existing network using a standard Cat-5/6 Ethernet cable. These devices use power over Ethernet (PoE), which means power is supplied by the network switch via the Ethernet cable, eliminating the need to hardwire into building power.
Instead of using specialized control panels, the credential database is entered into a computer (for multiple door installations) and into the reader-controller itself. With embedded intelligence in the reader-controller, it can make decisions at the door without going into a degraded mode when communication with the server or the network is lost, thus creating a system that has no single point of failure in its architecture.
No. 2: Reduced Costs of Installation
Traditional door access control systems involve installing two separate devices — the reader and the controller — at each door, in addition to the costs of installing the control panels. Perhaps the biggest installation cost, however, is running both a power cable and a data cable to each door.
With IP-based readers, there is a single device to install at the door and there is no need to run building power to the door. Since the IP reader and door electronic hardware are powered by the network through the Ethernet cabling, it only requires a connection to the nearest network PoE switch.
“Most companies have already made a fairly significant investment in their network infrastructure,” says Michael Radicella, CTO and Founder of ISONAS Security Systems. “It only makes sense to use the existing network instead of installing a separate, proprietary system at additional cost.”
Established in 1999, Colorado-based ISONAS Security Systems designs, manufactures and distributes the first patented panel-free, IP-based security access control system called PowerNet, which has taken the access control industry into the modern age of networked systems.
An IP-based system, therefore, can eliminate as much as half the labor costs for installation. Additional savings comes in the form of using Cat-5/6 Ethernet cables, at a cost of about $.30 per foot, instead of traditional 18-2 or composite power wiring which can cost a dollar or more per foot.
Installation costs vary, naturally, on the prep work required for the mounting panel enclosure for an old-style panel based system, the distance from the central box, the type of walls and ceilings, and other physical considerations in the building.
With multi-building or multi-campus installations, the costs of traditional systems are much higher because of the need of specialized hardware to connect the buildings, but with IP-based control systems, the data can run over existing network connections.
No. 3: Ongoing Management of System Operations
Any door reader system has to have normal administrative maintenance — adding new people, removing people, grouping people, schedules for different groups. IP-based systems, by linking with other employee directories on the network, can speed and simplify the process of managing day-to-day changes.
Many organizations with over 20 employees utilize Microsoft’s Active Directory as a central point/single source to manage employee contact data, locations, and access to the network and applications. When an employee is hired, fired, changes location or changes job duties; their access is automatically changed accordingly. IP-based door control systems can be designed to update access permissions in real time as they occur in Active Directory.
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