While trends driving technology innovation and adoption in many segments of the security industry are cut and dry, the same cannot be said for access control. Ask 10 different access control technology vendors on this year's show floor what they think will have the biggest impact on the market and you're liable to get 10 different answers.
In many ways, trends that seem to be impacting other technology segments within the industry also appear to making an impact in access control including the shift towards IP, the utilization of managed services, adoption of cloud-based solutions, the proliferation of Near Field Communications, and the convergence of IT with physical security.
The following is a sampling of the trends and technologies making headlines from access control manufacturers and service providers on the show floor this year:
Software House and Kantech (Tyco Security Products)
Just as the alarm systems market has seen a rise in demand for mobile apps that provide users with remote control capabilities, Steven Lewis, product manager for Software House, says that he has seen an increase in requests from integrators for mobile apps. In addition to providing remote access capabilities for users, Lewis said that these apps also allow integrators to configure access control systems more easily in the field.
In addition, Leon Langlais, director of product management for residential and small businesses at Tyco Security Products, said that there is also a strong trend towards total system integration in the access control market. "Still today, you have to have five boxes for five different solutions, Langlais explained.
Both Lewis and Langlais feel that the integration of Elpas' (formerly Visonic Technologies) real-time location system technology with Software House's C-Cure 9000 access control management system, which is being featured in the Tyco Security Products booth, holds a lot of potential for the market. "It allows you to track thousands of people on the web in real-time," Langlais said.
John Smith, senior channel marketing manager for Honeywell Access Systems, believes that the industry is moving more towards web-based solutions rather than software. With the majority of installations consisting of eight doors or less, Smith said that web-based systems, such as the company's NetAXS-124 platform, will prevent integrators from having to stay at a site for an extended period of time to configure a relatively small access system. "By eliminating the need for software, installers can spend less time on site," Smith said.
Wireless lock provider Salto Systems held a press conference on Thursday at ISC West to discuss the company's growth over the last year, as well as the launch of its XS4 Electronic lock. According to Michael Mahon, senior vice president of commercial sales for Salto, the company has sold more than 1 million locks worldwide and is on pace to sale more than 250,000 locks this year alone. The company's new XS4 lock features a BioCote protected surface that prevents the spread of germs, as well as the ability to employ a credential plus a PIN code. "In our industry, it is unknown to do this," said Salto Vice President of Marketing and Sales Marc Handels of the BioCote surface. "During the lifetime of the product, it stays effective." In addition, the company also announced that its' locks were recently selected for deployment on the campus of Princeton University to secure about 3,000 dorm rooms.
Karen Evan, president and CEO of New Jersey-based Sielox, said that one of the biggest trends she has seen in the market is the desire to virtualize access control systems as IT departments have become more involved in the selection of corporate security technologies. "Two years ago it was never asked for, but now it's almost commonplace," she explained. "It is having a bigger influence. (IT departments) are pushing the technology." At this year's ISC West show, Evans said that company has announced a new partnership with LifeSafety Power to power their access controllers, which Evans said will provide real cost savings to their customers. The company has also released new versions of its AC-1700 controller and Pinnacle software products. "Pinnacle version 9 and the AC-1700 will support up to 16 Salto wireless locks and two hardwired locks," she said.
A leader in the optical turnstiles market, Smarter Security has launched a new IP-based turnstile that promises to bring several benefits to end users, according to the company's CEO Jeff Brown. "We're very excited to bring IP (technology) to optical turnstiles," he said. "We really think the future is IP." Dubbed Fastlane Connect, Brown said that there are two main benefits for users that want to deploy IP-enabled turnstiles. First, it can help reduce total cost of ownership as the technology allows for remote upgrades and diagnostics. Secondly, IP will help users boost the performance of their systems as a result of these proactive management features.
A pioneer in the world of cloud-based access control, Brivo Systems announced at ISC West that it is launching a cloud-based access control solution for federal agencies called Brivo ACS CloudPASS. This solution was designed specifically with federal agencies in mind to provide simplified compliance, scalability and flexibility. According to Rajeev Dubey, Brivo's director of marketing, while the shift to cloud-based offerings is one of the major trends in access control technology, there have been some vendors muddying the waters as it relates to what the true definition of a cloud access offering is. Just as people do not go through third party to gain access to their Google mail accounts, Dubey said that an actual cloud access control solution does not involve a service provider managing the system for the user. In addition, Dubey said that a cloud service would not violate an organization's IT policy regulations as some other vendors have been known to do. "Anyone who has a true cloud architecture would not want IT protocols to be violated," he said.
For several years, many in the industry have touted the potential for Near Field Communications (NFC) in smartphones to revolutionize access control. Experts say, however, that the reality is that we're headed towards a world of "hybrid" access control, where some people will be using smart cards while others will be taking advantage of NFC. "The natural progression is to put everything on (phones)," said Jeremy Earles, portfolio manager for readers and credentials at Ingersoll Rand. Earles, who demonstrated the company's aptiQ NFC app, admitted that the technology needs to be implemented in more phones before it can gather the momentum it needs to gain widespread adoption. Earles said that the industry, which has made NFC out to be confusing, needs to works on simplifying it for end users. "I think the industry, as a whole, has made this technology confusing. It's a complicated industry, but it doesn't have to be for the end user."
For high security applications needing more than one-factor authentication, biometrics have become a prevalent component of contemporary access control systems. Though they have been widely criticized in the past for having a high rate of errors, biometric technology has improved tremendously in recent years and one of the companies on the cutting edge of this shift to more reliable authentication is Lumidigm. According to Bill Spence, vice president of Lumidigm, biometrics can allow organizations to streamline identity and access control management at their facilities. "CIOs understand that PINs only provide what somebody knows. "Others can know the PIN as well. Cards and tokens, whatever the technology, only provide what somebody has," Spence said. "Somebody else could have that card or token via theft or copying. Knowing and having just doesn't provide the protection or return-on-investment (ROI) that CIOs need in today's dangerous and litigious world. We must know who."
Though they have been a player in the global market for some time, New Zealand-based Gallagher has only had its access control platform out in the U.S. over the last several years, according to the company's general manager Curtis Edgecombe. As noted by several other vendors, Edgecombe believes that there will be a significant uptick in the demand for NFC technology in the market. "We're seeing more and more requirements for NFC and the ability for access control systems to NFC-compatible, which ours is," he said. Another big difference between the global and U.S. access control market, according to Edgecombe, is the adoption of the MIFARE card access system, which he says has overtaken the sale of other systems globally, but not in the U.S. At ISC West, the company has announced the formation of a relationship with Anixter, which will begin distributing Gallagher solutions to its network of dealers and integrators.
Daniel Smith, western regional sales manager for PCSC, a Torrance, Calif.-based provider of access control solutions, said that one of the biggest trends he's seen in the market for systems integrators is an increase in the demand for managed access control offerings. These service offering are advantageous for both end users and integrators, according to Smith, because end users do not have to make an upfront technology investment and it also allows integrators to make more recurring monthly revenue. "In essence, we're taking that responsibility aware from them and its now being done by systems integrators on the Internet," he explained.