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Orchestrating your system.

ACCESS CONTROL IS A FAMILIAR concept in corporate America. People not only know about access control, but they encounter it daily. To average users, access control is a card and a reader. They carry the card around with them in their wallet or purse, and the reader stands between them and the area they want to enter.

We've probably all heard about the beginnings of access control. In the Stone Age, cavemen rolled a large rock in front of the cave when leaving for a hunting expedition. Soon they found that their families could not leave their humble dwellings while they were away, and any intruders with similar strength had ample opportunity to remove the rock, thus gaining access.

Another example of access control and identification verification was found in ancient China. At that time, palace dwellers and workers wore coded rings in their noses. The color, shape, and type of ring denoted the areas of the palace they were authorized to enter.

Those examples illustrate the key concept underlying any access control system. It is necessary to keep undesirables out of certain areas while allowing free ingress to those authorized. These two somewhat opposing goals have been the driving force behind the development of modem access control systems.

When keys and locking mechanisms were introduced, they offered the best of both worlds. With a key, authorized users were granted relatively easy entry. Also, the locking mechanism effectively kept out any undesirables. Many problems arose with this method as the number of portals and users increased and as industrialization led to large organizations and facilities for producing goods and providing services.

Today, access control means much more. The facility manager in a multiuse office complex, hospital, college or university, military base, or industrial plant has a number of options available. Deciding on which type of system to install, which type of access media to employ, and how to configure the door arrangements is an onerous task, at best. The ever-increasing tradeoffs between unobstructive entry and tight security have troubled security system designers since the first door was locked.

Many access control options are available today. When thinking of access control in the 1990s, restricting your thoughts to cards, readers, controllers, and portals is no longer realistic. Controlling the flow of people is much more complicated-and security system suppliers are up to the challenge.

Access control, though it represents the building block of the security system, is not the be-all and end-all of facility protection. Access control is part of a total security system in which ancillary functions are not only provided but also integrated. Electronic security includes much more than controlling and tracking people throughout a facility. However, it is the basis on which the system should be designed.

Security system designers and security managers have demanded more flexibility and functionality from electronic systems. They no longer want to have one display and control system for access control, another for intrusion detection, yet another for CCTV switching and positioning, and still another for the intercom and paging systems. Building security and safety systems are most useful to the security staff when integrated into one display and control environment.

Access control should be discussed in the light of integration. Myriad possibilities are available to security system designers today, so they should not be constrained by a single vendor's product offerings. A number of system configurations are possible, such as combining various card technologies in one system, linking subsystems for parallel and complementary operation, and providing management reporting.

Traditional debate on which type of access control system is most effective and which would meet the application at hand usually centers on the W of card/ reader system employed. Magnetic stripe cards and readers have been presented as the most cost-effective solution where a large number of cards and a high turnover of cardholders are involved. On the other hand, proximity systems are most efficient in areas where users may have their hands full and cannot swipe or insert a card into a reader or read head. And most recently, infrared systems are thought to be one of the most secure card technologies available.

In any of these instances, arguments as to which type of system to employ are based solely on selecting an appropriate access medium. More factors influence system design than the type of cards and readers to employ. Different types of readers can be combined in one system, and different types of reading technologies on one card. For example, one manufacturer produces a magnetic stripe code on the back of a Wiegand card, combining two types of access media in the same system and on one card. Perhaps the front entrance is secured using magnetic stripe readers and the archiving/records area of the facility is Wiegand secured. Both areas are controlled separately with the same card.

The concept of controlling a portal and ultimately allowing access through a locked door on the basis of some criteria can best be described as the verification of identification. Verification is achieved based on one or more of three basic premises: what you know, what you have, and who you are.

Traditionally, access control systems were based exclusively on one of these concepts. That is, "what you know" was satisfied through digital code entry systems. Keypads were located at entrances, and digital codes activated the locking/opening devices. Then security evolved to "what you have," where a valid coded card allowed entry.

After that, biometric devices became the best method of ensuring that the person authorized for entry was, in fact, allowed entry - "who you are." False accepts and rejects were reduced, but throughput time was greatly increased, as were the costs of providing such high security.

Next, we thought combining methods was best. We combined keypads with readers to ensure that the person with the card also knew the code associated with that card-witness automatic teller machines. Then we linked a biometric device with this configuration so that all three conditions were met before entry was granted.

Let's take this idea one step further and link other security and safety systems with access control. What if we linked alarm processing and annunciation with the access control system and then added CCTV positioning and switching along with intercom switching and recording? And elevator control and equipment control and monitoring were also integrated? A number of subsystems could be monitored and controlled from one central location. (See Exhibit 1.)

The hub of an integrated security system is the networked control and monitoring system (NCMS). Using the advances made in networking technologies and office automation, the NCMS is a network of personal computers, usually linked over a high-speed local area network, through which data and system activity reports and annunciations are transferred.

The NCMS stores all system operational parameters and all data for cardholders and input/output points. It also monitors the activities of the entire system or facility and presents them to system operators. With hard disk and off-line storage, data and activity logs are maintained at all times for generating reports in many formats.

An intelligent field processor, or autonomous control unit (ACU), is required to control local alarm and card reader operation and to hold some of the system operating data files so that a fully distributed system is achieved. An open architecture and "smart" system evolves when these units can handle many types of inputs and produce a corresponding output, all based on predefined parameters.

The typical ACU handles four access readers, 32 or 64 alarm input points, and 32 or 64 digital output points. These intelligent field processors are the key to a fully distributed system. With data and memory at the ACU, the system can operate in a stand-alone fashion, without communication with the NCMS, and still handle access control requests, store alarm archive data, and control output events. This advantage is provided by a number of security system

vendors and will continue to be one of the basic parameters around which new systems are designed.

The types of field devices that may be monitored, controlled, or powered through an integrated access control system vary with each system. Typically, if the input/output device supports a form C type of contact closure, it can. be controlled or monitored. Though variations of this rule exist, it is an easy way to get a first impression of system capabilities.

Some typical field devices, all of which can be manually or automatically controlled from the NCMS, include access readers; alarm input points such as motion detectors, glass break detectors, and door contacts; relay output points for door locks, turnstiles, parking gates, sirens, and lights; and intercom switching and recording.

INTEGRATION HAS DIFFERENT MEANINGS for different people. To some, integration means linking alarms to relay output points for equipment control on the basis of the state of an input point. To others, integration means combining various subsystems into one display and control console.

Integration is defined in Webster's as "the act or process of forming, coordinating, or blending into a functioning or unified whole." When applied to access control and the integration of various security and safety-related functions within the electronic security system, integration can be easily described.

With greater functionality and increased flexibility, access control and many other functions can be integrated to form a unified electronic security program. Linking alarms to relays for output control represents an integration of the intrusion detection subsystem with the equipment control subsystem. When intercoms or handsets are activated as a result of keypad entries, the access control subsystem is integrated with the building communication systems.

Also, CCTV/alarm integration is achieved when an alarm triggers certain activity within the CCTV subsystem. Access control is also integrated with elevator systems for full control of entry to floors in a multistory building through readers in elevator cabs that interface with elevator control panels inside the cabs.

One of the first subsystems integrated with access control was the alarm monitoring and processing subsystem, which is so closely linked to access control that it was a natural addition. Once the alarm monitoring function has been provided, door alarms, intrusion detectors, and other alarms can be presented to system operators. Door alarms can also be presented in graphic form, a practical and useful addition to any access control system.

Graphic floor plans, simplified user interfaces, and multiple alarm types are many of the advanced features available in intrusion detection systems, which are now also provided with many access control systems. ACUs handle alarm points as well as card readers. Overall, access control systems benefit greatly from the addition of alarm monitoring, processing, and storage.

CCTV integration has been on many a designer's wish list for some time. CCTV should be integrated not only with the intrusion detection system but also with access control, which provides much more flexibility.

Physically, CCTV integration means that a microprocessor-based CCTV system can be controlled through the security system application software. Using an RS-232 data communication link between the microprocessor-based CCTV switcher and the access control system's central processing unit, switching patterns can be defined and called up as a result of system activity.

Alarm/CCTV integration refers to a digital input from any alarm point causing certain CCTV activities to take place. For example, a duress alarm in a parking garage causes an annunication of that alarm point at the NCMS display. Then, with alarm/VCCTV integration, a camera automatically sends a predefined shot to a certain monitor for the operator to view.

The camera shot may include pan, tilt, and zoom parameters that are

automatically activated on receipt of the alarm. Thus, the operator receives an audible and graphic annunciation of the alarm and is also presented with a video image of that surveillance area. Full integration in this case provides better area coverage with a smaller staff.

Integration of elevator control is another desirable feature. Just look at the downtown core of any major city in North America, and you see more than a few 30-plus story office and multiuse towers and complexes. Complete, unobtrusive security is a trade-off at best, but in many of these facilities, it is even more complex. Multiple tenants and the need to secure the lobby, parking, and general areas such as saunas, fitness centers, and showers are some of the requirements in an office tower.

Elevator control is perhaps the most elusive element in a security system design. Controlling access to specific floors in a building via elevator cabs ensures that entry is granted only to those with proper authority. Each controlled elevator cab houses a card reader and is automatically situated in the building's lobby in a steady state. Once an individual enters an elevator, he or she presents a card to the reader.

The card is predefined for authorization to certain floors. Once a person presents a card, he or she can only select authorized floors. Since this method restricts the use of elevators and floor selection buttons, it is generally only feasible during off-hours. However, it provides excellent after-hours security for an office tower.

Another feature available links elevator control with a visitor entry system. This system allows after-hours visitors entry to the building as well as elevator access to a preauthorized floor. Not only is the front door opened for the visitor, but the elevator is also summoned and the floor is chosen. Thus, another level of integration is achieved, increasing the capabilities of the access control system while reducing the barriers to authorized entry.

What about facilities with officers on tour and no requirement for 24-hour stationary monitoring of the NCMS? This challenge is easily met. Why not have the alarm sent out over a paging system and displayed on an officer's alphanumeric pager, just as it would be on the computer screen back at the operator console? The officer simply ends the present tour and responds to the alarm on his or her pager-for example, "west entrance-door held open alarm."

Much of the previous discussion is related to alarm detection and subsystem activation on the basis of predefined software programs and subroutines. However, we can be more specific about access control and integrate much more functionality into the control of people flow.

Consider the rear entrance at any facility, for example. Entry may be granted after hours at this door by way of a card reader. However, cards are lost, misplaced, loaned, and otherwise taken from the rightful and authorized owner. To ensure that the rear entrance is not accessed by unauthorized users, a fully duplexed access control system can be implemented.

In this case, the configuration shown in Exhibit 2 would be required. At the entrance, a card reader would be mounted on the wall outside the secure area. A CCTV camera would also provide surveillance of the area immediately in front of the controlled door. A speaker/microphone intercom substation would provide audio communication.

The after-hours operations of this door would be as follows. A guard would be alerted when someone presented a card to the reader. Information stored in the data base on that cardholder would immediately be called up on a video display terminal. The CCTV camera would be activated at that entrance and would present a predefined shot to a predefined CCTV monitor in the console at the guard station.

Full two-way voice communication would be provided so that the officer could speak with the person seeking entry. Video and audio recording of the activities at this portal could also be initiated. Thus, without staffing that post with a 24-hour guard, full surveillance is achieved, and access through that portal is screened with more diligence than if only a single card reader were mounted on the wall.

This application illustrates the benefits of integrating a variety of security functions within one display and control environment. Further access control developments will result in even more flexible systems. Security directors should not be limited by technology but should benefit from it. Linking separate subsystems in a logical manner is the trend in the new generation of integrated access control systems.

So where is access control heading? At one time, integration meant bringing all building management functions into one display and control system. One computer system would display information and monitor the operation of access control and alarm systems; elevator systems; environmental systems; CCTV products; and heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems.

Now, due to the diverse requirements of building automation and security systems, these two elements are remaining separate, but each is growing in flexibility and subsystem controls.

Access control systems of the future will be more integrated, allowing for linking a variety of subsystems through software. To increase the access control capability of the system, provide greater surveillance coverage, and reduce the costs of guarding a complex, more information will need to be provided. Integrating subsystems into a whole will provide this information in digital, audio, and video form. We look forward to great strides in the future as security systems manufacturers and designers respond to the needs of security managers and use technology from a variety of fields to provide well-planned security programs.

About the Author . . . John Sheridan is marketing manager for InfoGraphic Systems Inc. of Kanata, Canada. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Cards: The Key to the Future; special access control supplement
Author:Sheridan, John
Publication:Security Management
Date:Nov 1, 1990
Previous Article:Access for success.
Next Article:Tough-minded values for tough-minded leaders.

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