3 Surprising Benefits of Access Control

July 17, 2019
Implementing access control solutions that go beyond security can be a game changer for most organizations

The primary function of access control solutions has historically been quite literal—controlling access to openings and points of entrance and egress. But today, access control is becoming much more than a door, lock and key. Not only does it involve securing openings in all manner of new technologies, but it also includes optimizing a variety of facility functions. Today, access control is a multi-dimensional ecosystem that can address a full spectrum of operational needs. To demonstrate how this comes to life, let’s visit a typical university campus and examine how the evolving nature of access control makes an impact.

Driving Cost Efficiencies

Access control and energy utilization go hand-in-hand thanks to emerging technologies. Lighting systems can be activated by a user swiping their credential to enter a room, and heat and air conditioning can be controlled based on the number of users badged into a room. These integrated functions prevent lights from remaining on in empty rooms or HVAC systems from consuming large amounts of energy at times when classroom buildings aren’t in use. Activating operational systems only when they’re needed reduces energy usage across an entire facility, and ultimately, costs.

Openings themselves can also be a driver of energy savings, particularly when low-energy electromagnetic locks are installed. For example, ASSA ABLOY’s newly released Securitron M380E with EcoMag technology provides an 80 percent reduction in energy consumption over previous models of electromagnetic locks. Utilizing access control products such as the Eco Suite of energy efficient products from ASSA ABLOY Group brands throughout a facility can have a significant impact on energy and cost reduction. Connecting various facility operations with low-voltage or Power over Ethernet (PoE) solutions can also reduce energy usage and overall cost. Further cost savings are possible thanks to the fact that access control solutions can connect to these networks without a campus having to add new infrastructure.

“By integrating data from event and classroom scheduling systems, a campus can automate its access control system to manage how faculty and students engage with different buildings across campus,” says Jason Higley, Managing Partner at Detrios. “For example, using Detrios DAX, an electronic access control (EAC) system can be set to only unlock buildings and rooms during off-hours if there is an event in that space. This provides the added benefits of increased safety and security by restricting access to spaces that aren’t scheduled for use, as well as reduced energy consumption by limiting the number of spaces that are considered occupied.  At scale, this type of program can drive incredible energy and cost savings.”

Access control can also drive cost efficiencies by protecting supplies and equipment. Electronic credentials record who entered certain rooms and when, so access to labs and storage rooms can be monitored. Further, EAC systems can be programmed to only allow certain individuals to enter spaces with sensitive assets. At the campus clinic, for instance, access to medication and supplies storage can be restricted and monitored, helping to reduce diversions or losses of these valuable materials. Server rooms and all types of tech equipment can be secured with access credentials as well, making them less prone to damage or theft.

The wide variety of locks available allows access control systems to secure valuable assets in a range of applications, such as cabinets. For example, HES K100 cabinet locks with Aperio technology can be used to ensure that only authorized credentials can gain access to secure cabinets. With this technology, equipment and other valuable assets can be secured in classrooms, laboratories and any type of educational facility. For example, Berklee College of Music utilizes HES K100 cabinet locks to store and secure audio equipment. According to Nick Costa, Technical Operations Manager at Berklee, since the deployment of the HES K100 cabinet locks there has been zero property loss in areas where the locks were installed.[i]

Additionally, re-keying locks and providing new metal keys can be expensive compared to providing a credential for an EAC system, specifically a student ID card. Reprogramming or replacing these types of cards is typically less costly in terms of both materials and the time it takes facilities staff to make mechanical upgrades. In addition, students are less likely to lose their student ID card, which is required for almost everything they do on campus.

Streamlining Operations

As EAC solutions have grown in sophistication, the campus locksmith is no longer the sole gatekeeper for installing and upgrading door locks. Today, access control affects IT departments, facilities managers, campus police, sustainability directors and more. Thanks to advanced technologies, EAC systems can address the needs of these multiple stakeholders and provide a cohesive approach to managing the broad spectrum of projects and components that fall under their purview.

“Today’s access control decision-maker isn’t one person, but rather a committee,” says Jim Primovic, Director of Sales, Campus EAC for ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions. “This group is motivated by the notion that EAC systems can provide new ways of achieving greater safety for students, faculty and staff. For example, campus police can analyze credential data to see who used entrances and exits in dormitory buildings to investigate criminal activity and increase safety.”  

Access control also streamlines operations by future-proofing a facility, essentially implementing nimble technology that won’t need to be replaced in a matter of months or years. For example, universities don’t want to invest in electronic cards only to have them become obsolete, particularly given the time and cost associated with making system upgrades across campus.

Installing flexible access control systems allows facilities to upgrade as newer solutions become available, such as mobile credentials, while maintaining the same infrastructure. The SARGENT Passport 1000 P1 and P2 locks support multiple credentials and allow seamless migration from the magnetic stripe cards that are widely used today to mobile credentials and higher security smart cards without having to change the locks. Similarly, the Corbin Russwin Access 700 PWI1 and PIP1 locksets feature a migration path to higher security and mobile credentials. All of these solutions use existing IT infrastructure, including PoE and WiFi, thereby reducing complexity and allowing campuses to easily evolve their access control and security when they’re ready.

Improving the User Experience

The Internet of Things and the ubiquity of mobile and wireless technologies are changing expectations about how people live and work in any given space. Whether using Wi-Fi while flying across the country or logging onto a hotspot while taking a cab across town, today’s on-the-go society expects a seamless, connected experience at all times. Universities are under increasing pressure to meet these expectations, as Gen Z students are the first generation to have had the internet and mobile phones since birth.

With cutting-edge solutions, like mobile and biometric credentials, EAC systems can help meet these changing expectations, as people of all ages have grown accustomed to frictionless movement. For example, access control systems can now sense a credential up to 20 feet away from an opening so that the entry point is already open when the user approaches, all without them having to swipe a card or take the phone out of their pocket.

Over time, biometrics will make for an even more seamless experience, as users’ own features, like a fingerprint or retina, become their credentials. In the campus environment, this will be particularly attractive for athletics departments, where student-athletes want a fluid experience from training facilities to locker rooms without having to keep a card or a phone on them.

Further, in today’s age of Amazon, package delivery and the issue of package theft has become a growing issue that affects the experience students and faculty have on campus. As a result, cabinets and lockers for secure package delivery are becoming an increasingly valuable solution for campuses as an alternative to having packages left at residence hall entrances where they’re at risk of theft or misplacement.  Package delivery centers filled with smart lockers that feature touchscreens and keyless access, such as Luxer One package lockers, enable greater security and peace of mind.

“As e-commerce grows and package delivery continues to be the norm, this technology will be a true game-changer,” says Tyler Hansen, who leads higher education and university lockers at Luxer One. “This is an example of how thoughtful integration of security and access control technology can improve the experience of people living and working on campus.”

Thus, by integrating access control in ways that move beyond only entrances and exits, facilities managers and campus stakeholders can improve the user experience from the perimeter of a university to the innermost lockers in a building on campus.

At the Forefront of What’s Next

Technological advancements have transformed access control and the way facilities can use it. It’s no longer just about security—access control involves holistic management of a facility’s operations.

EAC systems drive cost efficiencies by reducing energy usage indoors and locks and by automating lighting and HVAC systems. They protect valuable assets and reduce costs associated with re-keying locks—all of which improves a facility’s bottom line.

By bringing together security staff, IT experts and other stakeholders, state-of-the-art EAC systems streamline operations across large facilities. They achieve not only safety goals, but other facility priorities too, including staying ahead of inevitable technological changes. And, access control can revolutionize the user experience, particularly as people everywhere expect a more seamless, connected experience at work, school and throughout their daily lives.

Implementing access control solutions that go beyond security doesn’t have to be a daunting process. With the right partners and solutions, the best EAC systems can deliver more value and better outcomes for users, decision-makers and the integrators at the center of it all.

[i] https://www.assaabloyesh.com/Local/assaabloyeshCOM/Documents/HES_CabLock-Advertorial_MASTER.pdf

About the author: Angelo Faenza is Vice President of Campus Electronic Access Control Solutions for ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions, as well as General Manager for PERSONA. Angelo has spent 27 years in sales and sales management roles with various divisions across ASSA ABLOY Group brands, in both the traditional mechanical door and hardware space, as well as the software and electronic access control space. Angelo is a member of several industry forums and working groups and was part of the founding team for the Open Security Exchange. He is also an active member of numerous higher education groups and participates in and presents often to industry groups.