Gazing into access control crystal ball for 2016

Jan. 13, 2016
Industry experts discuss trends expected to have the greatest impact on the market

Although access control may not generate the same amount of headlines that other product segments do when it comes technology innovation in the security industry, the fact is the market has experienced a proverbial whirlwind of change in recent years. Just as the shift from analog to IP-based solutions has revolutionized video surveillance, there has been a similar drive to bring door readers and locks into this growing network of connected devices that has come to be known as the Internet of Things. In addition to controlling who can and cannot enter a given facility, many organizations now see their access control and identity management systems as a way to glean greater insights into both their security and business operations.

Aside from bringing access control onto the network, there are a number of other trends helping to drive access technology forward, such as the proliferation of wireless locks, the development of cheaper and more reliable forms of biometric authentication and greater use of mobile credentials. So, what does 2016 hold in store for the access control market? recently reached out to a multitude of industry experts to get their predictions on the trends they expect to impact the industry this year and even beyond.

Software Integration

John Moss, CEO, S2 Security:  For video-centric organizations, traditional access control and video integrations have required operators to utilize two user interfaces. The access control user interface typically displays video associated with access or alarm events, so a second user interface is needed for video surveillance. We will begin to see more digital video display options that integrate access and alarm events, with video-centric organizations adopting these new displays as their primary interface.

Mitchell Kane, president, Vanderbilt: Integration capabilities between access control devices and systems, specifically between human resources databases and event management systems, will continue to gain traction in 2016. Integration between departments and systems will not only help to streamline installations and ease new system transitions, but will also ensure that only those with specific access privileges have the ability to move beyond certain barriers. Many times employees acquire new roles within an organization but keep their old access parameters due to failure to update their roles within the system, which can lead to issues should there be data or sensitive information within a department. With this in mind, systems need to be easy to administer and manage to allow roles to be updated quickly and efficiently.

Scott Sieracki, CEO, Viscount Systems: The transition of physical security technology into the sphere of IT is due to the elimination of the traditional panels and closed hardware platforms long associated with access control and identity management systems. These software-centric solutions are far less costly to deploy, service and maintain. Moreover, these platforms leverage existing IT infrastructures to tailor to specific business operations and easily scale out as needed at a marginal cost. Panel-free and IT-centric access control solutions are already changing the way corporate departments think about security and access control, but the transformation into a software-governed environment will open up even more opportunities for unifying and streamlining security operations.

Robert Laughlin, president, Galaxy Control Systems: The migration to web-based software and hardware supports the creation and implementation of new access control solutions that offer advantages to both the user and the system integrator. As an open-source technology, access control has capability to integrate with parking, video, time and attendance, identity management and a wide variety of other data sources and can further provide and share information to strengthen the overall physical security system. For the user, the interconnectivity of these advanced systems can enable stronger and more effective access control, including evaluation and performance of policies and procedures. For the system integrator, new software is the critical system enhancement component, and is by far the easiest component to deal with from an installation perspective. New software also holds the key for future business development with new customers who own old systems.

Brad Aikin, leader of electronic locks, Allegion: There should also be increasing opportunities to collaborate with software and service providers on expanding the value of existing and new PAC (physical access control) systems. Achieving this will happen by providing end users with clear financial value to electrify access points further into the building, beyond traditional security applications. It’s a great time to be in the security market as technology is enabling the deployment of electronics within a building’s ecosystem of services from physical access control and logical access, to lighting and HVAC systems. This further drives the interoperability of these previously disparate systems to enable services such as location-based decision making that will provide a new level of value to channel partners and end users in the coming years. As always, those who are successful in internalizing these advancements in technology and standards to expand customer value will be the clear winners in 2016 and beyond.

Blake Kozak, principal analyst, security and building technologies, IHS:  In 2016, contextual access control where the identity and access management ecosystem expands beyond just doors will be a trend to watch. For example, there will be greater emphasis on tracking, patterns, etc. in order to identify anomalies and provide end-users with an enhanced level of visibility.

Mobile Access

Peter Boriskin, vice president of commercial product management, Assa Abloy Americas: We have transitioned from discussing the possibilities of mobile credentials to it now being an accessible technology. While it’s still new compared to wireless, we will see more systems installed that are mobile ready. Our customers recognize the benefits of mobile and are comfortable with the level of security it provides. There is a growing understanding that mobile-enabled locks provide convenience and security while also maintaining interoperability with an existing credential base.

Moss: Security managers and staff have already begun to use mobile devices to manage elements of their access control systems such as remote locking/unlocking of doors, setting threat levels and mustering for evacuations. We will continue to see the development of additional mobile security management capabilities. As these new capabilities become available, users will rely even more on the convenience of their mobile devices to efficiently operate and administer their systems.

Kane: Accessing data and controlling access through mobile devices will continue to trend. Mobility is more important than ever and the access control market is no different. Security officials will have more access to a variety of security management solutions that will enable them to gain new levels of situational awareness, even from remote locations. These applications will allow security officials the ability to grant or deny access through mobile and smart devices. As we read about organizations instructing police officers and other security officials to “run and hide” in active shooter situations, the ability to lock down areas in real-time is imperative to keeping people protected.

Laughlin: Along with wireless readers, there are strong indicators that NFC (near field communication) technology will become more commonly used in access control applications for mobile credentialing. The ubiquitous smartphone, which often already features on-board NFC technology, frees the user from having to carry physical credentials such as tokens or ID badges. New readers on the market use Bluetooth to interact with a user’s smartphone, in essence turning a Bluetooth-enable device into an access control credential.

Wireless Technology

Laughlin: Wireless connections for door locks now supplement conventional wired technology solutions to deliver more options for certain installations. The improvements to battery life, ease of installation and transmission distance capability, as well as near real-time check-in, have made the wireless system a growing option for extending an access control system to gates, elevators and other remote applications. They are also a practical solution for retrofits or in buildings of historical value and are easily integrated with hand-held readers for rostering or mustering applications or with existing access control systems, allowing the continued use of existing access credentials. These factors, combined with ease of installation and potentially overall lower costs, will set the stage for increased use of wireless technology.

Boriskin: In 2016 there will be continued strong adoption of wireless. Security manufacturers will need to provide less education about the benefits of the technology and decreased costs of deployment. Stronger knowledge amongst integrators and end users will propel wireless in areas that up until now have been underserved.


Sieracki: Recent surveys and information collected on data breaches show that cybersecurity is quickly becoming as paramount to a safe environment as physical security. These efforts are beginning to unify and change modalities to adapt to shifting threat vectors and demands for reducing the vulnerabilities of “disconnected” systems.  Setting a high priority on cybersecurity will not only determine how likely a business will remain protected in the present; it will also be an indicator of how prepared and “future-proof” that same business will be in the coming years. Malware, hacking and fraud are at a record high rate of occurrence, and it is critical that access to sensitive data and other corporate assets be kept safe from these constantly evolving threats.


Kane: In addition to ensuring the protection of physical infrastructure, organizations need to protect access to proprietary or corporate data. For example, a wide variety of businesses are looking to biometrics to protect critical intelligence commonly found in IT data centers. We expect the interest in biometrics and other intelligent access control solutions to continue to increase. There are numerous developments being made that allow officials to use biometric data to grant access to high-risk areas or facilities. As we continue into the New Year, expect to see access control methods become more advanced and citizen-tracking efforts become more sophisticated.


Sieracki: We’ve heard a lot about the convergence of physical and IT security functionalities over the last few years, but it is exciting to witness convergence actually happening in the form of real applications and solutions. While physical and logical access control efforts have largely been siloed and treated as separate domains, unified access control approaches security vulnerabilities holistically as one set of identity management policies. Not only does bridging the gap between the two help unify security rules and policies, it also reduces the long term cost of ownership and a better return on technology investments. This will be a more and more common theme in the coming year as more companies leave discrete, proprietary systems behind and transition into IP video surveillance and access control.


Aikin: Looking ahead to 2016, the market is expected to further accelerate the adoption of secure Internet of Things or IoT devices, driven by their ability to deploy and manage EAC solutions with new levels of efficiency.  Business models will continue to expand beyond the historical scope of physical security and the value of service providers to end users will continue to grow as they broaden their ability to manage and deliver actionable data collected from interconnected ecosystems.

The Cloud

Boriskin: We are going to see a greater use of the cloud across many different areas of security. While it has already been used extensively for video surveillance and storage, the benefits for it in access control are wide-ranging and largely untapped. The cloud provides enhanced flexibility; the opportunity to manage access in environments such as small businesses and multi-family housing means we will see projects leveraging the cloud rapidly expand in 2016.


Kozak: Access control solutions will continue to play a larger role in allowing or denying access based on compliance. For example, rather than relying on simply something a person knows, has or is; compliance adds a layer of assurance by requiring that person have certain certifications or training.