How to Streamline Security Systems With Access Control Integration

The emergence of open platform access control solutions has allowed integrators to provide advanced security that also aids business operations.

How to Streamline Security Systems With Access Control Integration

(Image: photon_photo/stock.adobe.com)

Today, much of the talk in the access control market focuses on Cloud services and security technologies that can be easily integrated together. These discussions are being driven mainly by the IT world because many security-related decisions now fall on an organization’s IT department, where authentic open architecture systems have been in practice for decades.

In this age of technology, open standards among manufacturers for security products are necessary and having solutions that integrate seamlessly with one another is a must-have in today’s ever-evolving security environment. End users and integrators require the flexibility and improved reliability of working with best-in-class technology rather than being locked into a particular brand or product.

In addition, a growing number of end users want to integrate their access control technology with other security systems, including VMS, intrusion detection and building management, for a more streamlined and simplified approach.

Adoption of the Cloud

One significant change to the access control integration trend over the past few years involves its transition to the Cloud. Cloud adoption has created many opportunities for both end users and integrators. System installers and integrators can now swap to a service-centric business model promoting recurring subscription-based monthly revenue.

Instead of only selling conventional hardware-based systems or service agreements, they can now offer full-service Cloud solutions to provide cybersecurity functions, system health inspections, along with other professional services.

SaaS and Cloud-based business solutions also enable integrators to develop stronger, long-lasting relationships with the customer, ultimately benefiting both the supplier and the end user.

Cloud products demonstrate flexibility and scalability, making it easier to efficiently deliver solutions and services tailored to customers’ specific needs and challenges — and strengthening the partnership with the customer ultimately creates better conditions to conduct more business.

Companies recognize that modern security technologies can efficiently solve newer challenges by improving their scalability, providing seamless integration with other systems and promoting IT support. According to GlobalNewsWire, the access control market is expected to reach $20.02 billion by 2027.

It is heavily backed by the growing demand for Cloud-based systems along with the ever-increasing popularity of mobile access control systems amongst enterprises and other organizations. This trend is not going anywhere.

Overall, Cloud-based access control is ideal for small-to-medium businesses, enterprise-level organizations and every size in-between looking to upgrade their security in the post-pandemic world.

SaaS and Cloud-based business solutions can enable integrators to develop stronger, long-lasting relationships with the customer, ultimately benefiting both the supplier and the end user. (Image: ipopba/stock.adobe.com)

Integration After COVID-19

As organizations reopen and have different safety requirements, security solutions must integrate new health and safety guidelines without any compromise. So, how should access control be integrated into security systems after the pandemic? What trends are there to be aware of?

In general, for any integration to be effective, it’s necessary for access control solutions to be open platforms and highly flexible to scale with newer security technologies. Interoperability truly remains paramount within this space and gives the customer peace of mind to focus on best-of-breed solutions that can be easily integrated.

During 2021, flexible security methods revolutionized the way we live and work and will continue to show notable developments for the security industry in a post-pandemic society. Integrated security solutions have an essential role in preserving the safety of employees as they head back into the office and the ever-evolving changes that will be happening as communities embrace a new normal.

With this being said, let’s look at a few significant integration trends hitting the industry.

VMSs — Video management systems can supply more than just peace of mind to organizations. Integrating with security backbones like access control creates a streamlined, convenient and robust infrastructure that will serve any organization well and lower their TCO for their security infrastructure. VMSs can improve safety and mitigate loss-prevention issues with visual recognition of credentialed users while controlling zone capacity with video occupancy tracking features.

VMSs can work alongside access control by visually confirming or querying entrances through a phone or tablet without any additional servers. And certain Cloud-based solutions offer remote management, monitoring and address remote locking and unlocking issues. Integrated VMSs help leverage data relative to businesses by reporting real-time alerts to make better decision-making and quicker issue response.

Overall, it aids in reducing IT and administrative tasks and can be relatively inexpensive to maintain and easily installed when partnered with the right access control system. Many end users have already begun to select access control and VMSs that easily integrate to provide a simplified approach for their organization. This trend will continue to grow.

Intrusion Detection — Intrusion detection integration is a significant trend in the access control market. With today’s advanced technologies, access control can set parameters for authorized access and credentials when the systems are integrated, making intrusion detection highly sought after. Intrusion detection helps set the baseline of regular activity by establishing standard rules and guidelines and monitoring expected traffic flows.

Knowing these variables makes it much easier to spot intruders or improper use, ultimately strengthening the access control system. Intrusion detection also aids in identifying and implementing access control across the organization. Occasionally, intrusion detection may help spot situations where authorized access is necessary outside the bounds of what is allowed. Reoccurring intrusion alerts may be the initial sign that access control policies must change.

Integrated intrusion detection and access control are synergistic. And organizations with robust systems use these two systems to strengthen their infrastructure further. When both are implemented and managed together, security teams gain the capability to spot more complex attacks which might otherwise escape one or the other.

With touchless access control solutions like mobile credentials, Bluetooth readers and touch-free exit buttons, end-user staff can minimize contact while maintaining proper security procedures. (Image: zephyr_p/stock.adobe.com)

Introduction of Mobile Credentials

Touchless devices have been in great demand as organizations open their doors once again. While this includes the migration to mobile credentials, there is also a push to rethink the monolithic mobile app approach and provide the customer with a customized app based on their overall user experience.

With touchless access control solutions like mobile credentials, Bluetooth readers and touch-free exit buttons, staff can minimize contact while maintaining proper security procedures. For example, some manufacturers offer solutions that can deploy new credentials with no physical unit, and authorized visitors can be emailed a QR code that will grant them access to the building, all in a simplified, contactless way.

Being touchless is not the only benefit that mobile credentials offer. Because smartphones have grown to be so woven into daily life, most individuals realize that their phone is no longer within reach in just a short amount of time. This almost universal experience is ideal in keeping premises secure.

Physical keys, badges, or ID cards that remain in a closed-off area like a pocket or purse all day could take hours or even days for someone to realize it’s been lost. The amount of time it could take for an individual to recognize their badge is lost creates an opportunity for someone to access a building without the proper clearance. And unfortunately, in this scenario, when the improper individual enters, the system wouldn’t realize that the individual is not who they say they are.

However, mobile access control grants a different scenario. When someone realizes their phone is missing, they can report it and instantly remove the credential to stop a security incident. It’s also important to note that the mobile credential is not obtainable until the access control app is started, meaning the digital badge will not be available for the imposter to use.

Smartphones also often utilize two-factor authentication or biometrics and store identifying information behind password-protected screens. For example, suppose an individual’s key, card, or ID badge becomes lost. In that case, anyone who finds it will know what the individual looks like and crucial identifying information about them, like where they work or attend school, and possibly other data.

If password protection is vital to an organization’s needs, smartphones and mobile credentials offer numerous options in terms of password protection. Mobile credentials can also significantly decrease the costs associated with physical keys, badges or cards by doing away with the process of key duplication or rekeying.

They can serve as a scalable, sustainable, and flexible solution for many organizations that regularly replace keys like hotels, libraries, and college campuses. Mobile credentials also serve as a greener option and will not end up in a landfill at the end of their life.

Changes in Traditional Keypads & Readers

With the significant advancements in how credentials are created, delivered, and authenticated, many changes have been made regarding traditional keypads and readers. For example, many manufacturers now offer readers intended to simplify the entirety of the access control process and have created readers that recognize magnetic, stripe, proximity, smart cards, and NFC-enabled smart devices.

They fully incorporate the integration trend and make both integrators’ and end users’ lives more straightforward and convenient. Using open architecture platforms designed to work with industry standards and common access control system interfaces, these manufacturers create keypad and reader solutions that will scale alongside the organization they serve regardless of whether they have an on-premise or Cloud-based solution.

Integrators and end users should search for readers to fit various placement needs that include a modern design to complement any facility and its existing hardware.

The Path Forward

As the ongoing integration trend continues in the security industry, manufacturers will continue to rise to the challenge to create robust, sustainable, and cost-effective solutions for integrators and end users. Because many manufacturers understand the integrators and end users need for flexibility and scalable technology, new solutions will continue to be improved upon, especially with the integrator in mind.

Most manufacturers are happy to provide opportunities for integrators to increase their RMR by creating Cloud-based access control solutions and creating products that can be easily integrated with end users’ and integrators’ existing portfolios. And Integrators can rest assured knowing that manufacturers are thinking of them while creating solutions and understanding that these changes will only strengthen the relationship between the two.


Scot Sturges is Director of Business Development, North America, ACRE.

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