So, your access control is open – but is it agile?

“Open” has become a buzzword in today’s access control discussions. Unfortunately, debate over what is or isn’t open may distract from the real issue: finding an access control solution that lets you be flexible, economical and proactive in meeting your challenges.

Changing the perspective

There’s a lot of talk about open access control – whether or not systems are open, and, if so, just how open they are. The discussion has merit, but suppliers who want to be viewed as “open” can usually fit themselves under the umbrella.

So, let’s look at things in a less binary way than open versus closed. What if we discuss access control systems in terms of their agility? In other words, what characteristics truly make it possible to implement, change, scale and innovate in an easy, cost-effective manner?

For answers, we need to look beyond the general benefits of access control. Instead, we need to see what differentiates the access control systems themselves.

Breaking supplier-imposed bonds

The first step to agility is not being tied down by hardware. If access control components bind you to a certain supplier, that supplier will limit how fast and how easily you can manage and expand your system.

The term “open” is meant to suggest freedom. But it isn’t always that simple. Systems may offer the possibility to choose components or software from a range of partners, but only from those who are supplier approved. In the end, it’s still the supplier who sets the limits for what can and can’t be done.

What, then, is an agile access control system? An agile system is one that lets you move freely, choosing or combining an infinite range of hardware and software options. The APIs and hardware are available to everyone, rather than exclusive to specific partners, thereby creating an open development platform.

Wiring is a tether, too

Reducing physical ties, in the form of wires or cables, is an overlooked aspect of agility. Simply put, too many physical connections can hold your system back, even if the components themselves are flexible. In many access control projects, the sheer amount of wiring is extensive, which raises material and labor costs.

In a traditional system, there are master controllers and door controllers. Decisions are typically made at the master controller, then transferred to the door controller for the action to be taken. Such a configuration results in complex wiring. In effect, it creates a giant puzzle that makes installations harder and future changes difficult.

Edge-based door controllers are agile, having the flexibility to make decisions locally as well as centrally. This means that access decisions can be moved to wherever your doors are located. The door controllers use rules that are distributed and updated over your IP network, and they can be connected with single IP PoE cables. So your system is faster and easier to set up, and changes aren’t cumbersome. Taking advantage of PoE can also streamline your system and amplify the effectiveness of the access control structure, which helps to reduce the cost for additional wiring or power supplies.

Infographic Access Control

Having freedom of scale

Moving decisions to the edge impacts yet another form of agility, namely the ability to scale. Expanding traditional access control systems is often costly due to complexity or technical demands, which makes it generally difficult to meet future needs.

By contrast, edge-based access control is built for scalability. Small systems can easily be upgraded to enterprise software without having to replace any installed hardware, and additional hardware is easy to integrate.  You can add new door controllers individually, without excessive cost or complication.

Moving beyond the door

The easy implementation, high scalability and connective flexibility of edge-based access control provide the most important sort of agility – a freedom to run with innovative solutions and create access control systems that go far beyond the door. Suddenly, it becomes feasible to think past standard locking scenarios and innovate proactively for tomorrow’s challenges.

Here are just a few possibilities:

  • Lockers and drawers are traditionally managed using keys, without any trackability. With agile access control, such non-traditional “doors” are easy and cost-effective to add. As an example, an employee in a retail store can use their credential to open/unlock a required drawer. The employee opens the drawer to access the assets and closes the drawer which locks when done.  This adds traceability and accountability for accessing goods that are locked up, typically of high-end value.
  • Managing visitor access can be cumbersome and time-consuming. By providing QR codes as credentials to visitors, a camera or door station at the door can act as a reader, allowing visitors to enter within their given time and location restrictions.  Another option is for visitors to press a call button on a door station, allowing an operator to admit them following video and voice verification.
  • In a smart city scenario, the traffic cabinets located at every traffic light are traditionally managed using keys. By adding access control to each cabinet, keys no longer have to be fetched from a central location. Instead, workers dispatched to a specific cabinet can open it with their credential, which has been granted temporary access by the municipal authority. This also makes it possible to track the time spent maintaining the cabinet.

Edge-based access control contributes to creating these scenarios in a cost-effective way – and the possibilities are endless.

Linking to video means more possibilities

Linking access control to video creates a further layer of opportunities. For instance, by using cameras and video door stations, which communicate seamlessly with door controllers and I/O relay modules, you get innovative functions such as:

  • Automatic triggering of video recording, for example, if a door is forced open or if a drawer isn’t closed within a certain time frame
  • The ability to use a license plate as a credential, matching entering cars with a list of permitted vehicles and maintaining an event log of entries
  • Two-factor authentication, comparing live video from a camera to data stored on a credential

Want to learn more about agile, edge-based access control and the proactive Axis technology that makes it possible?

Access control