IP Access Control: The Next Big Thing

Jan. 15, 2016
How networked systems are vastly expanding AISG’s integration opportunities

The ideal complete network electronic technology IP security solution combines video management, access control, video analytics, intrusion alerts and other systems and devices onto a single networked platform that can be accessed from anywhere and at any time through a web browser. The automatically interrelated data from these network devices is reported in real time, providing a comprehensive view of security operations to ensure the appropriate actions be taken immediately.

The aforementioned scenario is becoming a reality today, as open platform network electronic systems develop to the point of surpassing traditional individual proprietary electronic security devices. Non-proprietary and open IP-based access control is a welcome physical security technology that integrator American Integrated Security Group (AISG), College Point, N.Y., is now offering customers.

Early indications have it poised to take off in the security universe like its digital video counterpart is doing in surpassing analog CCTV.

With greater opportunities for complete security protection, AISG uses a similar approach to IP access control that we use when integrating IP video surveillance systems. The migration of access control systems to a digital IP environment brings many of the same benefits to customers that the video surveillance market is delivering during the conversion of analog CCTV to network video.

Overcoming Analog’s Limitations

Freed from the constraints of traditional access control technology, a network-based system can be customized with a variety of devices from different manufacturers and expanded or upgraded either system-wide or one door, one reader at a time. There are IP access control products suitable for installations of all sizes. The versatile technological mix of the most up-to-date and robust components, with no need for hardwiring, provides a very cost-effective solution. IP access control systems enable installations that are flexible and scalable with the ability for growth, changes and additions. IP access control can ensure maximum security and a future-proof investment.

The skill set needed to incorporate electronic security solutions leveraging the network is an ongoing educational process undertaken by all management and installers at AISG on a regular basis. Having expert knowledge in IT and network electronic technology, our staff continually researches and tests different IP access control systems as they come to market. We are finding that an IP-based solution not only makes execution and integration of access control systems more feasible, the benefits are far exceeding our expectations.

IP access control gives a big boost to upgraded access control system functions and operations —offering an increased level of identity verification, authentication, encryption and credentialing. Smart card and biometric technologies strengthen the verification factors. Both systems and associated database integration is seamless.

Traditional proprietary access control systems come with limitations, require expensive cabling and restrict system integration. Using open interface IP access control, the common, standardized digital environment has the potential to create countless opportunities to integrate not only video but intrusion detection and a host of other systems such as HVAC and building management, HR systems, perimeter control, fire detection, etc.

In addition to system interoperability, what most end-users are asking for is simple database data exchange. There is huge demand for correlation of data from intrusion alarms, video surveillance, card access, visitor management, asset tracking and other systems to share data and intelligence across an existing network infrastructure. IP makes it possible for us to provide a uniform, manageable, user-friendly and powerful single-site solution that is able to extend to multi-site management.

Driving increased business and revenue is the fact that we are no longer being held back by a legacy access control system that is dependent on having each device hardwired into one central unit. An IP access control system streamlines the entire process. Using IP, one controller for each door is connected to the local network through a regular network switch. The PoE (Power over Ethernet) supported controller at each door eliminates the need for separate power cables for door equipment such as locks and readers. Door controllers are quickly discovered on the network and enrolled, saving installers valuable time during system set up.

The cost of adding an IP-based door controller on the network is much less than the multiple serial connections required when wiring back to a central unit. In addition, support for Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) makes it possible to avoid having battery back-up for door equipment.

Traditional access control systems lack flexibility and tend to confine the end-user to one single product manufacturer. When expanding traditional access control systems, the process is complicated and expensive. An IP access control system can be a mix of the best equipment available from a variety of vendors. Overall, an IP access control system is easier to install.

Customers are Ready

Integration with a video management system is one example of a very common implementation which is much easier to meet with IP-based systems. Many of our customers are already using their existing network infrastructure for IP video surveillance. Adding IP access control to their systems enables them to easily associate cameras with readers.

The combined technologies efficiently stream live video to multiple users simultaneously and enable operators to monitor entry of personnel on site in real time. Enhanced functions such as facial recognition are accessible and controllable from anywhere through a web browser and include advanced deployment tools such as auto discovery and provisioning. Audio/visual identification and remote entry control is possible for both small basic installations and demanding enterprise systems. New technologies are being conceived such as mobile credentialing.

Some of the advantages of integrated access control and video management we have noticed include:

  • Single site solution able to extend to multi-site management.
  • One systems integrator to implement the system.
  • One familiar interface for system operators to learn.
  • Lower cost of ownership versus two separate systems.
  • Ease of maintenance and support.
  • Reduced total installation costs.
  • Use of existing network infrastructure and standard IT equipment saves time and lower costs.
  • The freedom to choose components from virtually any vendor.

In a walk-through with a client, we use the following access control system parameters to determine if IP access control makes sense: how many access points are there on the property; are the access points monitored or are they easy for unauthorized persons to gain entry; are there offices in different places throughout the property or in remote locations; what types of reader, credential, locks and other devices will be best to use; does the system need to be integrated with video management, etc? If there are several access points and a great deal of trenching is required to hardwire, for example, IP access control is the answer.

Other factors are that an IP access control system heightens the client’s security and ability to respond to incidents, while leveraging the existing network for integrated security functionalities and support for third-party devices.

An Intelligent Decision

Having standard network topology that aligns with the IT industry is really beneficial in the new network electronic security world, since as a security integrator, we must work closely with our customers’ IT departments, especially on larger accounts. A unified solution that looks and feels the same across all security devices and hardware contributes greatly to ease of system administration. System management is made from any computer in the network. The structure allows remote control of system devices and remote interactive monitoring of facilities. This also saves a lot of time for the installer, as well as making troubleshooting and maintenance tasks easier.

At AISG, the decision to migrate to a digital IP environment has brought only positive results. The freedom to choose components is important and we applaud the efforts being made by various groups like ONVIF, the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and PSIA’s Physical Logical Access Interoperability (PLAI) specification, to encourage the development and use of a global open standard for the interface of physical IP-based security and related communications products.

AISG always takes a highly developed approach to systems integration. IP access control fits our company profile. It provides efficient workflows and manages multiple tasks. Whether a customer needs us to secure a large, multi-site facility, or a smaller installation with a few doors, we can provide an IP access control system that adapts to any security environment within a single solution that is designed to scale and grow as the need arises.

Levy Acs is President of American Integrated Security Group (AISG), College Park, N.Y. AISG was the No. 1 -ranked company in SD&I’s 2014 Fast50