By Neal Bellamy, IT Director at Kenton Brothers
Access control is typically a Ho-Hum discussion. Who gets access to your doors? When during the day do they get access? Do you want pictures on your badges? What doesn’t get discussed often is how access control can make it easier to manage your facility. Ease of use is vastly different across access control platforms. Your decision on access control software can significantly affect how you manage your facility!
First, let’s start with site plans, or maps.
Suppose you have someone that is watching your facilities, like a guard, SRO, or facility manager. In that case, a site plan can give you a visual representation of your facility and its security at a glance. For instance, in Gallagher, the site plan can show you if all the doors are open or closed, locked or unlocked, the last person who scanned through the door, whether it has been propped open or even forced open.
If your Gallagher system is integrated with your camera system, the site plan will show you nearby cameras on the site plan. Likewise, if the intercom system is connected, the site plan allows you to talk to the person at the intercom, all through one interface.
Since Gallagher has a built-in intrusion system, showing the alarm status as well as arming and disarming can all be done through the site plan as well. Finally putting it all together, for facilities that are actively monitoring their system and you have an alarm where a door is forced open, or any other type of event, the alarm manager can show you on the map where the event is taking place, any cameras in the area, whether the alarm is armed and the last person who swiped through the door.
Although a common phrase at Kenton Brothers is that security and convenience don’t mix, mobile credentials are the exception.
From a convenience perspective, mobile (or sometimes called Bluetooth) credentials can be issued easily through a web portal or software via text or email. Mobile credentials can be issued from hours and hundreds of miles away. From a security perspective, mobile credentials are already more secure than most physical cards. Usually, the cards have to be activated by the user, which makes cloning harder. In some instances, the credential is tied directly to the access control system and has a more unique identifier. Then on top of the already more secure credential, they normally can be combined for a multi-factor authentication like face id, fingerprint, or pin number.
Mobile credentials come in a couple of flavors, two independent systems for mobile credentials and access control, which is a little less convenient, and one combined, or integrated, system which is easier to use. Gallagher offers all of these convenience and security features. Furthermore, five mobile credentials come with every system so you can try it for yourself!
The next WOW! factor component is a mobile app to control your system from afar.
Mobile apps are split fairly well among access control systems. Systems that have been around for decades are struggling to convert their very robust systems to also include a mobile app that has basic functionality. Newer systems that might have only been around for 5-8 years may only have a mobile app, but lack deeper access control features you might need. Gone are the days when our workforce comes in at 9 am, takes an hour’s lunch, and leaves the office at 5 pm.
People are working the hours that work for them, their family, and their business. This means visitors might come at all hours, people could get locked out while walking their dogs or stepping out for a late-night snack. A Mobile app gives authorized people the ability to allow approved staff into the office from anywhere with internet access. Good mobile apps also allow viewing and disabling cardholders as well as arming and disarming alarms.
Gallagher offers all of these features and even adds an evacuation process where you can account for everyone quickly, in case of an emergency. Just like mobile credentials, Gallagher includes one mobile app connection for each system.
Gallagher is releasing new features constantly.
There are some new features that we haven’t been able to use yet, but look great. The first is a VoIP/SIP server. Without getting too technical, most IP intercoms now are basically IP phones installed next to a door. Each have basic capabilities to call another IP phone. The Gallagher implementation offers the ability to answer intercoms, directly through the Gallagher app. While this won’t replace full integration of intercom systems, it will start to replace intercom integration where the end-user only needs a few intercoms.
The next new feature is a client web application, this new application allows users to connect with Gallagher over a web interface, rather than the full client or mobile app.
Although not a feature of the Gallagher software itself, the supply chain issues continue to haunt most access control providers.
Getting readers and access control boards is extremely difficult with backorders measured in months. Some manufacturers are quoting anywhere from 12 – 50+ weeks to get the product. However, since Gallagher manufactures their own products, including the plastics that go around the components, and they control most of their supply chain, Gallagher has no shipping delays. The most important WOW factor is that it can actually be obtained!
If you want to know more about how you and your company can take advantage of these WOW factors, give us a call!