Access Control: Selling the Upgrade

Help your customers embrace change in their access control infrastructure, and how to use dynamic technologies to make it happen

Whatever the impetus, today’s access control platforms enable a secure, phased migration. It can take several days or weeks to migrate and, if necessary, a parallel system can be in place for months. The key is to ensure interoperability with legacy and future systems — multi-technology cards and readers bridge the gap between just about any legacy system and today’s secure contactless technology.

One approach is to simply use multi-technology cards. A smart card can securely house up to four different access control technologies, including Weigand, magstripe, low frequency, high frequency or a contact chip. This approach works well if an organization only wants to upgrade security for a specific department or group. Employees carrying a card with both technologies can enter any location regardless of whether it has an old or new reader.

Another approach is to install readers that use a combination of old, low-frequency and new, high-frequency technologies, including 125 kHz HID Prox or magstripe, as well as the latest RFID technology. This increases flexibility to support unique requirements. Multi-technology readers are also helpful for granting access to employees that may be on a different campus, using different technology.

HID Global supports both of these approaches. The company’s iCLASS SE platform uses a new Secure Identity Object (SIO) data model that supports open standards including Abstract Syntax Notification One (ASN.1, a joint ISO/IEC and ITU-T standard). SIOs can represent many forms of identity information on any device that has been enabled to work within the secure boundary and central identity-management ecosystem of the company’s Trusted Identity Platform (TIP). The combination of TIP and SIOs improves security and increases flexibility for adapting to future requirements, such as adding new card applications. Additionally, iCLASS Seos credentials can be carried inside smartphones in a managed access environment.


Secure Issuance

It is also important to consider current secure issuance requirements. Today’s printers, card materials and software incorporate critical visual and logical technologies so that organizations can implement multi-layered validation. There are many hardware choices, from monochrome direct-to-card (DTC) solutions to high-definition printing (HDP) retransfer technology for contactless or contact smart cards. Organizations also have high-throughput options, and can select products that deliver the high-volume reliability and advanced credentialing features of large centralized units, along with the lower cost and smaller footprint required for the distributed printing model.

Secure validation is a key ingredient. In addition to two-dimensional identifying data such as a simple photo ID, or more sophisticated elements like higher-resolution images and forgery-proof laser-engraved permanent personalization, today’s smart cards can include chips, magnetic stripes and other digital components for an important third security dimension. With expanded data storage, cards also can include biometric and other attributes to further enhance validation.

Other elements to consider are speed and convenience. Printers with built-in programmers/encoders combine multiple processes into a single, highly efficient in-line card personalization step. Opting for field-upgradable units enables organizations that already own a card printer to add an encoder in the field so they can leverage smart card benefits well into the future.


A Path to the Future

There is significant value in shifting the traditional way of thinking about change, and looking at it as a leadership opportunity rather than an interruption, distraction or something initiated in response to an adverse event. Integrators can help their customers to easily and inexpensively expand and upgrade their systems to meet changing needs while taking advantage of new technologies.

By using dynamic rather than static technologies, security becomes independent of hardware and media, and the infrastructure can evolve beyond current abilities with the adaptability to combat continuously changing threats. Helping customers make the right technology decisions today will also help them meet new requirements with the confidence that they will be able to preserve investments in their existing infrastructure.