Technology benefits for all

Challenges can arise when specifying tailor made external door access solutions that suit a wide range of users. John Hardman of dormakaba reviews the solutions available, and how technology can help specifiers identify the right option

Access control solutions have existed for many years, however, it’s certainly the case that the recent rapid pace of technological advancements and innovations has increased the capabilities of products which are on the market today. As any specifier will know, no two buildings’ access requirements are the same. This is especially true of organisations and projects where multiple buildings are managed under one entity, such as university campuses, hospitality complexes or large shopping compounds. With a variety of offerings available, specifiers can find themselves lost in what seems like an overly complex set of solutions, however recent technology can ensure clients’ needs are easily met.

In the clouds

Cloud-based technology is one of the most significant innovations for access control. Utilising an online platform to manage user access across single and multiple sites, these systems require minimal investment in IT infrastructure to function and operate successfully. Integration of new software based solutions can be costly, time consuming, and inconvenient to those using the site, especially in situations where 24-hour access for authorised individuals is required. For cloud-based systems, internet access is all that is required to get everything up and running, and provides a simple, centralised interface for managing user profiles and privileges. This is ideal for campuses and multi-building complexes, especially those with high turnovers (e.g. students graduating from university while new students enrol), as it allows tailored access to be established for different people or groups for specific buildings – so access requirements can be added, amended or withdrawn in real time. This also allows access to multiple buildings with one access medium – such as a smartcard, key card, or a fob. External access can also be further controlled at certain times of the day for specific groups. For example, in a university scenario, accommodation would need to be accessed consistently by authorised residents, whereas learning and research buildings (particularly laboratories or those that contain expensive equipment) can be restricted at night, either totally, or partially with only those with authorised permissions being able to gain access. Furthermore, with a full audit trail function, these systems can record movements of users through authorised areas to allow complete peace of mind for site managers. Another benefit of cloud based solutions is that new features and updates can be applied and implemented with immediate effect, rather than waiting for locally installed software to be updated.

Smart phones for smart access

Mobile access via smart phones can now be incorporated into access control technology using supported apps. With smart phones having become a constant within today’s society, people are much more likely to have their device on their person at all times and are less likely to loan it to somebody else for use – unlike a key card or fob device – which contributes to a secure environment. Smart phones also include additional security functions such as numerical passcodes and passwords. The most recent innovations in mobile phone technology allows users to choose biometric verification, such as fingerprint or facial recognition – further enhancing security.

Virtual specification

Of course, cloud-based technology should be combined with robust physical entrance systems to ensure complete and total security solutions are specified for external entrances. From sliding doors to turnstiles, there are a range of solutions and it can be a difficult undertaking to specify one that works not only with your end client’s requirements, but also the architectural vision for the building. This is where Virtual Reality (VR) technology could prove incredibly useful. The construction industry is aware of technology such as BIM, in which specifiers can drag and drop products into a fully digitised building plan. This allows any issues to be identified prior to construction, and minimises the margins for error once on site. VR can allow users to fully immerse themselves in a computer-generated world, which would include being able to see products in action in a variety of buildings and situations, and gain more information about the products’ inner workings. This additional access will ensure that specifiers make better informed decisions at the specification stage. With a wide variety of applications and the unique security requirements of each one, there can be challenges when specifying the correct solution. By considering secure cloud-based technology and modular construction advances such as VR, specifiers can ensure the most robust security method is in place for their clients.

John Hardman is electronic access systems product marketing manager at dormakaba