The Rise of Wireless and the Importance of Integration

Trevor Ball

Trevor Ball

In today’s fast-paced digital age, we’re constantly subject to change. It’s no different for the access control environment. Here, Trevor Ball asks whether we truly understand the importance of seamless systems integration in today’s shifting access control market.

The world of access control is changing. Ask anyone active in the industry and the likelihood is that they’ll confirm a shift in the landscape. Take a step back and you realise how quickly access control has advanced, moving from traditional lock and key methods to the tech-driven security solutions we now find in our facilities today.

Generally, as we continue to seek convenience through technological development, we’re seeing a rapidly advancing trend in the implementation of wireless connectivity. Whether this be the devices you find around the home (think wireless headphones or smart home devices) to the advancing market of wireless access control solutions. Today, the idea is to connect devices together, wherever and whenever possible.

The development of wireless access control, in particular, has provided facilities with an abundance of options, including what we now know as ‘cloud-based’ access control. ‘Pure IP’ cloud systems, for example, take access control online, creating a new streamlined security infrastructure. This is a market that’s set to continue growing exponentially, but such an upgrade doesn’t come without its challenges.

Change is good?

This adoption of new technologies is mostly viewed in a positive light and seen as an opportunity for improved security as well as evidencing an industry that’s moving forward. However, for some it must be said that with change comes more responsibility and, perhaps far worse, uncertainty.

Present an online access control solution to those with an existing physical security system and questions are raised. Will it improve security? How much will it cost? Is it possible to integrate the solution into my existing system?

Although cloud-based systems can offer a more modernised and assured security network, not everyone’s inclined to see it that way at first glance. To those with an already established system (no matter how effective it is), upgrades can mean hassle with additional installations, internal network systems and costs all needing to be considered.

Misconceptions concerning time, costs and integration are just that – misconceptions. The advancing market has given us access to solutions that can recreate or even convert older systems into something that’s compatible with new access control software. Pure IP cloud systems, in particular, can improve the overall management of a building’s security with simplicity.

The revolution is coming

As increased connectivity continues to drive market trends, will it eventually force facilities to make the switch? That debate can only be answered with time. However, we only have to look at the accelerating growth of mobile credential usage to see that these disruptive trends could be moving faster than we think. For that particular scenario we absolutely must be prepared.

Seamless integration really is key here. As more end users choose to update the systems on their premises, we must ensure that building security isn’t compromised in the process. While there’s still a place for physical hardware, security and facilities managers can no longer deliver the expected level of security with a mismatch of security systems running through their buildings. The incorporation of Internet of Things-led security devices (designed to integrate with existing systems) should be seen as a step forward.

Providing systems have been designed with integration, scaleability and flexibility features in mind, building security and operations can be improved. Take a larger premises with numerous buildings, such as a hospital or a university campus, for example. With various building types and numerous access points, a set of facilities such as this can own multiple security systems. Today, integrated networks can help facilities managers successfully manage multiple geographically dispersed locations in real-time. This is something that has not been possible from one system until recently. Adding to that, the data that’s collected and monitored via these systems is invaluable for facilities and security managers, allowing them to better aid the flow of movement and even understand weak areas of security.

Seamless upgrades 

Although the word ‘integration’ has almost become somewhat clichéd in our industry, the reality is that it’s a concept of great importance and one that can no longer be ignored.

In short, pairing existing systems with fully-integrated modern access control can not only streamline processes, but also improve existing security networks. As market demand shifts and manufacturers continue to offer these simplified security systems, it could only be a matter of time until most premises choose to incorporate them. After all, the benefits are clear and the technology is available.

With this in mind, maybe access control truly does belong on the network.

Trevor Ball is Business Development Manager for the UK and Ireland at Allegion UK


About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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