Easy Does It

Wireless access control systems add opening detection to the protected premises

For outdoor applications, like vehicle and pedestrian gate access, wireless links will bridge up to 1,000 feet, eliminating costly trenching. As such, wireless systems are ideal for garages, parking lots, airports, utility companies and military bases. They are especially cost effective for controlling gates around a facility. Even more impressive—optional directional or gain antennae are available for still longer distances, up to 1,300 meters (about 4,000-plus-feet) away.

With wireless access control, people can enter the parking lot just like they enter the front door—with their credential. No guards are needed to keep unauthorized cars from entering and no trenches need to be dug to provide what can be installed with a wireless solution quickly.

Elevators are also prime candidates for a wireless system. While traveling cables are routinely included at the time of installation, they are often ill-equipped to reliably transport credential data from the cab to the elevator controller. Elevator shafts are harsh electrical environments and are often the source of data corrupting noise that becomes induced onto the card reader data lines. This causes inconsistent performance, which often gets worse over time as cable shielding decays due to continual movement.

Conversely, wireless solutions eliminate the need for the data lines in elevators up to 300-plus meters. In fact, they thrive in this environment and provide consistent, reliable data transport that doesn’t wear out. With traveling cable installation costs ranging from $2,600 to $13,000 or more per cab, wireless alternatives can save thousands of dollars per elevator.


What about lockdowns?

Lockdowns have everything to do with the wireless technology being deployed. This issue is major with wireless access control. Usually, with WiFi, access control decisions are downloaded by the host into the lock five to six times per day versus five to six times per hour with 900 MHz solutions, a 10-minute heartbeat. Access control decisions may also be managed within the locks (as is the case with offline locks) to minimize communication from the lock to the host and conserve batteries. However, such limited (non-online) connectivity with the host limits the locks’ ability to receive urgent commands from the host. For instance, even with a 900 MHz platform, a direction to immediately lock down could be ignored for more than 10 minutes.

However, with new modular locks, a “wake up on radio” feature works in parallel with the 10-minute heartbeat. Without waking up the entire lock, it listens for complementary commands every one to ten seconds and responds. Thus, 10 seconds is the longest it will take to initiate lockdown.

Whatever the industry, wireless is becoming the prescription for getting more doors covered and extending the present access control system, especially when the facility requires something that is not too invasive and can be easily installed. In addition to providing a system that is easy to administrate, wireless solves the many installation restrictions one has in medical, education and historic buildings, including limitations on where you can drill and lay wire.

It’s easy to use wireless in many applications and openings, extending the reach of these solutions and adding value to the system overall.


Karen Keating is the Product Marketing Manager, Electronics, for Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, Carmel, Ind.