Access All Areas

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Common legacy access control systems are becoming increasingly outdated and, in many cases, no longer meet the current demands for heightened levels of security. But advances in wireless access control can offer the solution specifiers and facility managers have been seeking, reports David Ward.

As an industry that is by its very nature conservative and risk averse, security has to be wary before rushing to adopt the latest technologies and innovations before they have been tried and tested in the field. 

Concurrently, as existing systems and outdated technology become increasingly unable to accommodate the greater demands made on them in a time of heightened global restrictions, some businesses find themselves forced to compromise on security – as the costs of expanding their systems prove prohibitive. But this no longer needs to be an issue.

Innovation in wireless access control and the introduction of multi-platform readers mean that not only is the technology used to upgrade existing systems much more cost-effective for end users, but it’s also gaining ever-increasing consumer confidence due to its reliability and proven advancements.

Thus electronic and wireless access technology is driving genuine excitement in this field. The fastest growing area in the access control space, wireless is eliminating the need for hard wiring, and reducing labour and installation expenses. The latest technology has also addressed previous concerns about battery life and forced door alarms.

Some of the more recent top performers in this field are the range of Aperio wireless access control locks, which have seen 200 percent growth – a certain reflection of this increased consumer faith in the products. Aperio is an innovative technology developed to complement new and existing electronic access control systems, providing end users with simple, intelligent ways to upgrade the controllability and the security level of their premises.

Aperio technology allows a mechanical lock to be wirelessly linked to an existing access control system and means additional doors can be easily and cost-effectively added to the access control system.

When first introduced to the market about five years ago, the technology was used in very specific markets – such as Heritage buildings, which are traditionally difficult to navigate when it comes to installing wiring. But the market for such applications has widened considerably and wireless solutions are now being utilised in a large range of facilities. They have also assisted the keyless trend and, as a result, security and facility managers now have greater control, can easily respond to organisational changes and only need to monitor a single security system, while users only require a single access control credential.

Keyless solutions are not only cost-effective for the end users in both the domestic and commercial space, but they are convenient and functional for such applications too. Nor is the technology limited to entries and exits. We are also seeing a rise in the number of systems being installed on data rack cabinets, lockers, cupboards and drawers. And this is just the beginning. Further expansions of reader technology are underway, which will drive the next step forward for the industry.

It’s early days, but readers are going to mobile credentials. Rather than via a card, secure credentials will operate on smartphones, through NFC (Near Field Communication) or Bluetooth. And it is just a matter of time before this method becomes really established.

The possibilities are genuinely exciting. Imagine this: in the not too distant future, a smartphone with Bluetooth enabled will be able to run an operating system for credentials, allowing users to walk within range, give their phone a ‘twist’ and it will unlock the door. Or maybe a person could drive up to a gate, gesture with their smartphone and open the gate.

Again the key is consumer confidence. Just as wireless took five years to be accepted, this new technology will have to prove itself before it sees the market fully embrace it.

It really is just a matter of time. Traditional legacy access control systems are becoming impractical and outdated, particularly in the commercial security environment, where issues with entry and exit points can decrease business

productivity and safety. A security market desperate for an alternative has resulted in accelerated advances in wireless solutions, which can be easily incorporated into old legacy systems.

Improved functionality and security also means the industry is experiencing a growing trend in the number of consumers confident in rejuvenating old systems with wireless technology. Wireless compatible hardware is quickly installed and the software can be inexpensively upgraded to keep up with new demands and authorisation credentials.

The future is at your fingertips…

This article appeared in the Apr/May 2017 issue of FM Magazine and on the FM Magazine website.