The consultative approach

Assa Abloy’s Lester LaPierre discusses the steps to installing a comprehensive access control system


Evaluate the protected premises--This will help you identify the options you have when selecting products for the system. How old is the building? Does it have architectural or historical significance? How thick are the walls? Was asbestos used as an insulating material? If it’s a resounding ‘yes’ to all these questions then it may be difficult and costly to install conventional hardwired access control devices.

For each opening requiring access control, you’ll need the following details to ensure you order the right product for the given application: what’s the handing of the door?; does it swing in or out?; is it left or right handed?; how does the customer expect each door to operate? Ensure that an operational narrative is written for each opening that covers the essential conditions and have the customer sign off on it.

Ensure code compliance

Several agencies have issued numerous codes and standards over the years to enhance life safety, improve privacy and reduce fraud, such as various building codes and standards which need to be factored into your overall access control plan. Note that building codes and standards are interpreted and enforced by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), such as the local fire marshal. It’s always a best practice to consult the AHJ when you plan to include new products or solutions in a system design.

Different clients have a variety of security requirements. It’s another best practice to verify these needs with your customer before starting the system design. Some of the considerations that have a direct impact on product selection and system configuration include lockdown capability, real time monitoring and audit trail requirements and the location of high security and classified areas.

Many will argue that this next point should be the first step in the process. However, jumping into the “budget” question upfront will only result in a partial solution that doesn’t fully address the customer’s true business objectives or long-term strategies. To that end, consider the following final details that will allow you to complete your system design, such as:

Aesthetics-- Where is this system being installed? Many high-profile building owners use architectural design to make their facilities stand apart from the rest and this extends to the interior space as well. So, is a black wall reader the right choice? Or will an elegant lock with integrated card reader and designer lever be a better choice?
Disease control The H1N1 flu is an excellent example of how infectious diseases can spread. Fortunately, many locks are available with an anti-microbial finish that permanently suppresses the growth of bacteria.

Turnover-- What kind of turnover does the facility experience? In college residence halls, students seem to change rooms as often as they change their clothes. This would be very difficult to manage with a PDA-programmable offline lock. However, some single-card systems actually program access privileges onto the card, virtually eliminating the need to tour the doors to reprogram them. Of course, online solutions would address this as well.

Applications-- It’s inevitable that a variety of applications will converge into a single system and it’s only a matter of time. That’s why it’s important to select an access control system that will grow with your customer by providing application support for parking access, visitor badging, integrated video and other needs.

System management-- It’s important to determine who, how and where your customer will manage their new access control system. For enterprise-class systems, it might mean multiple departments will manage their own people, while a system administrator will maintain and manage the main, centralized system. This allows for a sharing of the workload for faster response to alarms and better understanding of individual access control privileges.

Budget Ultimately, you need to know your customer’s budget. Long-term planning comes into play so you can develop a prioritization list over several phases to ensure the customer gets the access control system that fully meets their requirements, now and in the future.