Two approaches to deeper access control integration

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A Recent study into wireless access control solutions reveals that 90% of respondents value the importance of integration in building management functions  

Interoperability is now almost essential for joined-up security management. Customers want systems which work together seamlessly. In a survey of security professionals for the Wireless Access Control Report 2021, over 90% of respondents noted the importance of integration across building management functions. 

This number, while large, is hardly a surprise in our increasingly interconnected world. Budget concerns have an impact, too. Running systems in parallel, rather than from one integrated control panel, is more expensive and increases errors in data entry and analysis. A single system becomes a more reliable record — and therefore makes security auditing easier and more accurate. 

Despite this, deeper integration of building systems is still at the planning or “wishlist” stage for many companies. The desire for it remains unfulfilled. Why? 

Over a quarter of respondents (27%) to the same survey suggest a lack of available solutions developed to compatible standards. “Standards are key for the momentum behind the shift towards system integration. The migration from proprietary or closed technology to open architecture has likely come as a response to the demand for flexibility from end-users, consultants and systems integrators,” notes the Report.  

“As well as being more flexible, solutions developed to compatible, shared standards are better future-proofed,” says Russell Wagstaff, EMEA Director Platform Architecture at ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions. “Standards ensure investments can be made today with confidence that hardware and firmware can be built on seamlessly in the future. Compatible solutions offer greater peace of mind than proprietary solutions which ‘lock you in’ for the long term.” 

On top of this lack of integration-ready solutions, another quarter of survey respondents (26%) highlighted a shortage of integration expertise in general. Both of these roadblocks can be overcome, with the right choice of solution. 

“Hardware and software integration are two different paths towards the same goal,” says Russell Wagstaff. “When end-users match the location and application to the right integration strategy, the result is a powerful enhancement of building management capability with minimal disruption to their day-to-day business.” 

Wire-free integration to extend access control 

The challenge is to integrate hardware to enhance the way building systems work together. For almost any site, expanding the coverage of traditional wired locks to more doors can be an expensive and disruptive task. Installing and integrating wireless locks is usually much more cost-effective, because no cabling or invasive building work around the door is needed.  

Wireless technologies like Aperio — battery-powered locks with RFID-readers — are offered with a published API for rapid, hassle-free integration. “Businesses which already have wired access control and want to add more doors to their system can do so easily,” explains Russell Wagstaff. “Aperio wireless locks integrate with security systems from over 100 different OEMs worldwide. Rather than increase the complexity of security management, they simplify it.” 

Aperio cylinders, escutcheons, handles and locks can be fitted as a new access control system, or extend an existing installation by linking new doors, servers or cupboards to the same system, without wiring. 

“Hardware integration makes security management more efficient,” adds Russell Wagstaff. “When staff use fewer interfaces, less training is required. The job gets done quicker. Integration also enhances the experience for building users. One credential can open the car park, then the building entrance, and perhaps unlock their laptop, book a meeting room and buy lunch in the café.” 

Diverse sites benefit from hardware integration 

At the InHolland University of Applied Sciences, a rolling project to upgrade access control has been ongoing for several years. More than 500 Aperio wireless door devices are now deployed at 7 separate InHolland campuses. All InHolland’s electronic locking devices are integrated with the university’s Nedap AEOS access system. 

With a single credential, users unlock all authorized openings managed by the AEOS system, whether wired or Aperio-protected doors. And choosing Aperio saved more than just time. A recent ASSA ABLOY benchmarking study finds installer labour costs are over 80% lower for wireless versus wired locks**. The operating cost of running battery-powered wireless locks is much lower than for equivalent wired locks.  

In London, Plexal’s offices are fitted with Aperio locks integrated with DoorFlow, NetNodes’ online platform for managing and auditing building access. Aperio locks provide Plexal with the highest levels of physical protection and transmit door status to DoorFlow in real time.  

“Plexal required an adaptable locking solution for a range of different doors and, with no wiring required, it was quick and easy to install Aperio with minimal disruption,” says Stewart Johnson, Director at NetNodes. And because Aperio technology has an API designed for integration with almost any security or building management system, Plexal’s access control technology is fully future-proofed. They can easily expand to new offices, floors or even buildings.  

Software integration for comprehensive building control 

Security software offers another powerful integration path. Programmable key-based access system CLIQ®, for example, takes two approaches to access control integration. CLIQ Web Manager software can be “plugged in” directly to an existing platform, making electronic key-operated doors one node in its control panel. 

Alternatively, CLIQ Web Manager can expand to become a hub for multiple business processes — managing HR, support ticketing, financial reporting and more alongside daily access control tasks, for instance. 

A new integration with Genetec Security Center takes the first approach. Software integration helps Security Center customers to broaden their access control capability, administer locking more efficiently, and better protect all kinds of premises from increasingly sophisticated threats.  

“Intelligent keys give customers the ability to expand their access control and management beyond the physical network while maintaining the Genetec unified experience and auditing capabilities,” says Jean Philippe Deby, Business Development Director EMEA at Genetec. 

The integration via CLIQ Web Manager extends the access control possibilities of Security Center, enabling programming of CLIQ’s intelligent, battery powered keys with fine-grained access rules — all from a single, familiar interface. And because CLIQ cylinders and padlocks can be installed wire-free, physically fitting the new locks to extend access control is quick and straightforward. 

“Deep integration of these technologies extends a security manager’s capabilities powerfully, but almost totally out of sight. For either a hardware or software-led approach, this is the goal of a successful integration,” concludes Russell Wagstaff.