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 with 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. Why, they ask, should they have to specify only proximity or only smart card credentials? Why do they have to choose between only offline or online solutions? If online, why must they choose between only wired or only wireless? Why must they isolate technologies when they could choose them all, working under one system with only one database, to provide a holistic security and safety solution?
What is happening with readers is based on what is happening with credentials. Smart cards will be in everyone’s future, regardless of the hiccups you are hearing with government applications. The problems with smart cards at the governmental level are not that of the technology itself. The cards work and the readers read them. The current challenges involve deployment of the programs. Once those wrinkles are ironed out, more and more of your customers will be migrating to smart cards.
It is very important that your customer be prepared for smart card deployment, even if that customer wants to install proximity, magnetic stripe or keypad readers at the present time. Integrators can help their customers by proposing multi-technology readers that combine the reading of the credential now being employed with smart cards.
The major change on the horizon for access control panels is that, instead of being technology-centric, they are becoming customer-centric. There are technology-centric panels for hardwired readers and technology-centric panels for wireless readers. Some technologies don’t use panels at all. However, when hardwired and wireless technologies need to interface, yet another type of panel might be warranted. That’s the problem. When a facility uses multiple technologies, these types of challenges compound themselves by requiring multiple panels, databases and software interfaces, which present more challenges.
If the readers you propose are open architecture and the panels are open architecture, there will be no problems creating a customer-centric panel specifically for that customer’s system today while providing flexibilities for technology in the future.
Another integrator problem is that most access control software is too complex for the typical commercial business. The system needed for a multi-national, multi-campus application is not the same as what’s needed for a 50-person office. As a result, too many smaller systems are forced to use more complex, more expensive panels than needed. New systems and panels are now available for the small to mid-size customer.
Jennifer Toscano is the portfolio marketing manager, Credentials, Readers Software and Controls, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies.