Keep a Current Calendar
Q: What do I need to consider in regard to how holidays impact access control systems?
A: Many access control systems rely on time schedules to lock and unlock doors, generate an alarm, log or ignore when an event occurs, and determine when specific cards or groups of credentials are active. A system may already accommodate the fact that the building is used differently on weekends than on weekdays.
Holidays, however, can change normal schedules. In a retail store, holiday sales may extend the time the building is open. In a government building a holiday may require the entire building to be locked. A holiday can also cause staff to need to work extra hours to get time-sensitive work done beforehand. If your system normally annunciates an alarm when a door is opened at a guard desk, you need to decide what to do when the guard is off for the holiday.
You need to know which holidays your customer will observe at each system site. It's also possible in a site with multiple tenants that each will have their own schedule. Businesses react to holidays differently. One department can be open while others are closed. A business may open on the holiday, but observe different hours.
And, some companies may close but still allow employee access.
Most businesses observe a standard list of holidays each year. But sometimes, unofficial holidays are announced without much notice. You should have procedures in place to handle this. Some access control companies decide to avoid last minute surprises by contacting customers in advance to see if and how they will observe holidays.
Selecting an Accommodating ACCESS System
Q: What role do holidays play in selecting an access control system?
A: Once you have determined the needs of the users of the access system on holidays you can make sure that your system can accommodate them. Check to see if your system will support the number and variety of holidays that your user requires. If the doors will lock on one schedule and users will be granted access on another, this may require multiple zones or access levels for each holiday. Make sure the number of levels available in the system can handle current and future needs. It will be easier if it can all be done automatically with programming, but customer needs or system limitations may require that you set up reminders to perform manual changes to make it all work.
Some access control systems allow you to connect to on site controllers via phone lines or the Internet. This can solve a number of problems related to holidays. Last minute schedule changes can be accomplished without a visit to the site. A user can be given temporary permission to areas to prepare for the holiday. This connection can be used to provide off site monitoring of events and alarms when the facility is closed, negating the need for a site visit to restore any temporary program changes back to normal after the holiday.
Brad Shipp is a former Executive Director and Training Director for the NBFAA where he authored several NTS courses, including the Access Control Certification course. His involvement in the access control industry dates back to 1974 and in 1986 he became an instructor for the NBFAA National Training School. Shipp has served on several law enforcement, regulatory and industry association boards and has been honored for his service by the False Alarm Reduction Association and the International Association of Security and Investigative Regulators. Send in your questions on access control to firstname.lastname@example.org.