Full Access

The interest in monitoring access control systems via central stations is growing as advancing technology and more user control come on the scene.

When it comes to understanding the technological options available in today’s security products, what you don’t know might hurt you. Advances in products and services continue to occur at a swift pace, and in our industry’s changing climate, what worked yesterday may be obsolete or ineffective today.

Access control is just one area of security that is witnessing dramatic changes. While many of yesterday’s options were focused only on keyless entry, access systems today offer targeted reports, video verification and e-mail notification of unauthorized entry. More companies are incorporating such enhanced access control into their security plans, but many are not equipped to handle the monitoring and management that goes along with it. That’s where central stations may provide a solution many have been looking for.

Smaller Install, Advanced Options
“We have found that new customers looking to install an access control system are unaware of the option of having it managed by a central station,” said Bruce Winner, business development manager for Sonitrol Corporation. “Most integrators sell the software/hardware to have it managed locally, even though the majority of access systems sold in the United States today are eight doors/readers or less.“ That might not be the best alternative for small and medium-sized companies.

Central stations offer customers a variety of options that are an integral part of access control. Basic administrative duties, such as adding and deleting cards, running reports, maintaining databases, and opening and closing doors according to schedule, can all be covered by central stations. They offer advanced access options as well.

Advanced Access Options
Video. Central stations monitor the access control site and, when needed, provide access to patrons based on lists or passwords. Many central stations also provide video monitoring of the site. “If the user does not have access to the location … if we get the proper set of verifications, and a video image along with it, then we can grant access and remotely open the facility,” said Wayne Wahrsager, chief operating officer of Nationwide Digital Inc.

With its WIN-PAK PRO Central Station, Honeywell offers video capabilities integrated with access control—an option that might be out of reach for small or mid-size businesses that monitor locally, noted John A. Smith, product marketing manager for Honeywell Access Systems. “Our live video display will show a person trying to enter a facility, and then when they present their card, it will pop their picture up on the screen,” he explained. An operator at the central station can then verify that the person entering on the live video is the person that’s in the database and authorize access to the facility. “It’s an option for higher security, and it’s a pretty big feature for us,” Smith said.

Online management. Some end users are reluctant about giving up control of their operations to a central station, so many central stations have begun offering managed capabilities for the end user on the Web. “Our system can be accessed remotely and managed remotely without going through any kind of an automation package,” said Jim Maruca, general manager of Crime Alert Monitoring Center. “The system can be remotely accessed via the Internet, and in many cases, you can manage the system—delete and add cards, and even let somebody in.”

Sonitrol Corporation offers a Web-based service called mySonitrol.com. “It provides to the customer the best of both worlds,” said Sonitrol’s Winner. “They do not need to manage their own access system and database, yet have access to the data and information via the Web.” The service provides clients the ability to access their accounts via a security-protected site, run reports on activity, search for particular activity of users and schedule custom reports to be e-mailed as needed, among other things, according to Winner.

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