Do you count yourself among the legions of security professionals who have long been leery of biometrics? While institutional misgivings about biometrics are certainly not unfounded, technological advances have allowed these devices to enter mainstream application with ease.
Today, biometrics that are simple to administer are commonly being implemented across a range of market niches. Hand geometry readers, for instance, are especially easy to install and maintain. In many cases, replacing card readers is simply an unplug-plug-and-play operation.
These devices get people into buildings and rooms quickly and can include a variety of options, such as letting an employee quickly check accrued vacation time. Plus, threshold levels are easy to control; think tightening access control in a nuclear power plant while loosening the level at a spa.
Around the world, hundreds of thousands of biometric hand geometry readers are in use, thanks to trusted reliability and convenience.
Let’s take a look at the product types available to installing security contractors, and the many increased business efficiencies and benefits end-user customers can realize.
System Type Overview
A biometric reader can be used as a standalone device that protects a single critical access point or integrated into virtually any new or existing access control system on the market. You can customize security levels, time zones, holidays and languages based on your client’s unique needs.
Optional template management software lets readers form a system that communicates alarms and transactions in real-time, creates activity reports, enables supervised onsite or remote user enrollment, and allows you to set temporary access privileges. Units will work without fail even in harsh conditions.
The primary function of any biometric device is to verify the identity of an individual. Access control, however, requires the ability to identify the person, plus unlock a door, grant or deny access based on time restrictions, and monitor door alarms. There are a variety of ways biometrics accomplish this task:
Standalone systems — Numerous biometrics are available in a standalone configuration. Such devices are not only a biometric, but also a complete door controller for a single door. Users are enrolled at the unit and their biometric template is stored locally for subsequent comparison. The actual comparison is accomplished within the unit and a lock output is energized depending on the outcome.
Networked systems — Many access control applications have a need to control more than one door. While multiple standalone units could be employed, a network of biometric readers offers many advantages. The most obvious is centralized monitoring of the system. Alarm conditions and activity for all the doors in the system are reported back to the PC. All transactions are stored on the computer’s hard drive and can be recalled for a variety of user-customized reports.
Networked systems also provide convenient template management. Although a user enrolls at one location, their template is available at other authorized locations. Deletion of a user or changes in their access profile is simply entered at the PC. Some biometric systems store all information in the PC where template comparisons are also performed. Others distribute template information to the individual readers at each door. Either way, the net effect of template management is the same.
Third-party system integration — Biometric manufacturers offer a variety of different methods to integrate biometrics into conventional access control systems. The most common way is card reader emulation. This method is very effective when integrating into existing card-based systems to bring extra security to the front entrance, server room or other critical openings. The wiring is nearly identical to the card reader’s wiring.
In this mode, the biometric device essentially works with the access control panel in the exact same way that a card reader does. The card reader output port of the biometric is connected to the panel’s card reader port. When a person uses the biometric, it outputs the ID number of the individual if, and only if, they are verified.
The format of the output is consistent with the card technology used by the access control panel. Once an ID number reaches the panel, it is handled as if it came from a card reader. The determination of granting access is made by the panel. The access control panel, not the biometric, handles door control and monitoring.
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