What’s in the Cards for Access Control

New technologies and open platforms are dealing integrators a way to deliver what commercial customers are clamoring for: interoperable and integrated access control solutions. Find out what the best market bets are and how changes in credentials, card readers and control panels can give you a winning hand.

If we review the typical access control system in use today, in all too many cases, it was installed in stages. As a result, it is comprised of different brands and disparate products, many of which do not integrate into the same system or talk to each other. Too often, the hardware and software systems are proprietary, refusing to let you or your customers mix and match best of breed components or customize the solution to specific needs.[IMAGE]access-open1.jpg[/IMAGE]

In a perfect world, the access control solution installed today would be customized to exactly meet present security and safety issues, and also accommodate emerging technologies to let the system easily, quickly and affordably grow and adapt as needed.

Security directors are starting to demand their installer’s assurance that they can stay technologically current without compromise or risk. They want to know that they can choose among solutions deploying any and all technologies, including those yet to be developed, without fear of having to scrap their present systems.

Today, the economy is still holding back some access control sales. However, implementations at schools, colleges, health-care facilities and certain commercial sites, such as data and telecommunications centers, remain strong.

The following update on access control cards, readers, control panels, solutions and opportunities is designed to help integrators satisfy commercial customers’ wishes and capitalize on select bullish vertical market segments.


Wise to Be Ready for Smart Cards

Most everyone understands that, at some time in the future, smart cards will be the credential of choice. However, the path to smart card credentials seems full of curves and bumps.

The Smart Card Alliance Physical Access Council is focused on accelerating the widespread acceptance, usage and application of smart card technology for physical access control. Many of the organization’s projects have focused on the impact Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 201 will have on U.S. government physical access requirements, and on the integration of physical and logical access control.

Many of these federal-instituted initiatives are hampering the speed at which smart cards can achieve widespread adoption. For example, there are three aspects of FIPS 201 that nonfederal government entities cannot comply with:


1. The Federal Agency Smart Credential Number (FASC-N) framework is limited to federal agencies.

2. There is no definition for a commercial equivalent to the National Agency Check with Inquiries (NACI) for identity proofing.

3. The Federal Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Common Policy cannot be used outside of the federal government.


It doesn’t seem to get any better in other federally-mandated programs. According to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the federal Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) post-9/11 port worker background checks have put thousands of otherwise qualified and experienced port workers on the streets instead of the docks until they gain their security clearance. “A Scorecard on the Post-9/11 Port Worker Background Checks” indicates more than 10,000 workers lost their jobs while awaiting TSA approval of their Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) cards after the April 14 compliance deadline passed.

Such talk may persuade some to stay away from smart cards for now. However, these problems have nothing to do with the technology. They have to do with the government’s meddling in the implementation of smart cards. The technology works and, regardless of how the federal government deploys smart cards, the commercial industry will follow. Keep up to date on smart cards; they’re in your customers’ future.

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