Security Business

APR 2019

Find news and information for the executive corporate security director, CSO, facility manager and assets protection manager on issues of policy, products, incidents, risk management, threat assessments and preparedness.

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14 Security Business / / April 2019 Tech Trends BY BRIAN COULOMBE The State of Wireless Access Control Wired can still get the job done, but the prospect of 50-percent cost savings per door can be enticing for a variety of markets As time goes by and security technologies evolve, one fact is eternally present: Security budgets are under pressure. Whether it is new construction, complete retrofits or routine technology upgrades, the scenario usually does not change – capital dollars for security are often hard to justify, as return on investment can be ambiguous and difficult to quantify. It is our job to help clients manage the investments they do make by making sure technologies are used as effectively and efficiently as possible. One particular technology evolution that has helped stretch those dollars further is wireless access control openings. Don’t get me wrong – I love wire. Stable, reliable and dependable, you always know exactly what you are getting with old-fashioned metallic conductors. But the prospect of roughly 50-percent cost savings per door is enough to get anyone’s attention. Industry leaders in locking technology have all developed their own brands of wireless lock technology, including ASSA ABLOY, Allegion and Salto – throwing some serious weight and credibility behind the solution. At the very least, it seems as though we all need to understand the pros/cons to be able to justify our design decisions to clients who might salivate at the potential wireless cost savings. Inside Wireless Access Control I recently met with Donna Chapman, ASSA ABLOY’s Director of Security Consultant Relations, to understand the current state of wireless access control. ASSA ABLOY, the world’s largest lock maker and owner of key industry brands like HID and Mercury, should theoretically benefit from the purchase of any opening – whether wired or wireless. One might argue that more hardware is required for a wired opening; and thus, those types of openings would be more financially advantageous for the company – yet, ASSA ABLOY has done a large amount of outreach in educating the market on wireless technologies. Chapman says the main benefit of this education effort is to expand the overall reach of access control. “Before wireless, interior doors needing access control were often not feasible due to the high cost per opening, and many campuses just managed without,” she explains. “Wireless has allowed owners to apply more access controlled openings into their facilities, meeting the needs for a secure solution for a much better price point. We strongly believe in making products to meet a variety of needs, and it should not be a one-size-fits-all approach – we want customers to have the freedom to choose between a variety of options.” With wireless access control, there are two types of communications technology. The first type uses standard Wi-Fi to communicate between the lock and the access control head-end. These solutions are often the most cost effective, as they eliminate the cabling to the door, the access control reader interface panel, and much of the installation time; however, the use of Wi-Fi for access control can leave some clients squeamish, particularly if they do not have an enterprise IT department to assist in the ongoing maintenance and security of the Wi-Fi network. A second type uses a proprietary wireless signal between a lock and a wireless gateway. Wireless gateways are then wired back to a standard wired Ethernet switch or an access control panel, depending on the manufacturer. These versions are slightly more expensive, as the wiring of the gateways to within 30-50 feet of the door is still required. Both types include necessary signals like door position and request to exit back to the access control system, and can report alarm conditions immediately. “Many customers use a mix of both options based on the opening situation, features needed, and budget to identify the right solution for that application,” Chapman says. Some markets have been quicker to adopt wireless than others. “The higher education market was the first to I have noticed a shift toward wireless in commercial projects, particularly with clients making an effort to future-proof office environments for reconfigurations down the road."

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