Easy Does It

Wireless access control systems add opening detection to the protected premises

Wireless systems offer so much to the systems integration installer. They remove the expense of running wire to all access points—a project that takes too much time, costs too much and raises havoc throughout the facility as the job is being done. With no wire to pull or trenches to dig, a wireless access control takes only about 45 minutes to install per door, versus eight hours for a hardwired alternative.

It also implements online access control without taxing the budget. The use of wireless, particularly on existing buildings, eliminates any hardwiring of networked card readers, door position switches and request-to-exit devices. It reduces costs significantly, speeds up installation and maintains building aesthetics by steering clear of wire runs that can’t be concealed.

Today almost 70 percent of electronic locking systems now incorporate wireless. It’s not rocket science why such a switchover to wireless has occurred over the last five years. A technology that used to create problems is now solving problems and now wireless systems are reliable and easy to install. For those concerned about hacking, each RF transmission is encrypted with AES-128 bit keys to provide virtually uncompromising security. This Advanced Encryption Standard is the also preferred by most governments.


Different flavors, different uses

The term “wireless” is not the same flavor in all cases. For access control and intrusion systems, there are two major types of wireless. The first is 900 MHz communication installed to a PIM (panel interface module) and onto a hardwired source network. The second is 2.4 GHz/802.11 WiFi, in which communication goes from the lock or sensor to a WiFi antenna and onto a network.

Signal propagation and strength through building walls is stronger for 900 MHz signals versus the shorter wavelengths of 2.4 GHz signals. Typically, if a 2.4 GHz system is installed in a building, additional WiFi antennas will likely be needed to support an equal number of wireless locks or sensors.

In WiFi systems, this can mean additional installation costs by assuring antennas have closer proximity to the locks to ensure reliable operation. In addition, independent WiFi locks require unique IP addresses. Thus, there is greater involvement with the IT department and, all too often, extra internal fees get charged for each IP address. With 900 MHz solutions, a single IP address manages 16 or more doors or openings.

With wireless savings, integrators can help facility professionals extend the reach of their card-based systems at a cost that used to include extra materials and increased labor. Wireless helps migrate the present access control system so that it can be used for more doors as well as mobile mustering, remote areas, gates, elevators and other unique applications that have been previously impractical to install or simply too expensive.

With a portable wireless reader, security personnel can leverage the existing card system for remote and offsite applications including mustering, attendance, event admission, checkpoints and similar applications.

For example, if there is a fire at the facility, a portable reader can determine who have escaped, discovering quickly if anyone is still inside. On a college campus, students could use their campus cards to attend a concert or other event. At a school, teachers could check that all students are on the bus when going on field trips.

Regardless how impressive an organization’s access control system is, check out the remote doors. Often times, a simple key opens the door; sometimes just a padlock. Why? It’s been too costly to connect them to the system. Wire and trenching take up way too much budget. Here’s a simple example. Most high schools and colleges have athletic equipment sheds out at the practice field. The equipment inside is quite valuable. Now, with wireless, they can have the same type of locking systems and credentials to enter other places on the campus. Whether or not the original system is wired or hardwired is irrelevant. The system won’t care if one part is wired and the shed wireless. It reads all doors the same.

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