The latest in IP access control – cloud, data overload and more threats
By Neil Cameron, Johnson Controls Area General Manager, Building Efficiency – Africa
26 April 2017
When it comes to security, everything has moved to IP, from access control to CCTV systems. Organisations are actively leveraging the advantages – like integration, advanced features and greater intelligence – that digital technologies bring. As technology costs continue to drop, migration from analogue to integrated IP systems is clearly the smart thing to do and the majority of organisations that need it, have done so.
Right now, organisations are looking at two areas – moving into the cloud and better leveraging the intelligence that IP solutions and analytics offer.
IP solutions deliver so much more value in terms of intelligence. Older systems simply send information to a central collection point, newer IP systems are able to talk to one another and make critical decisions. That puts intelligence at the edge of the network.
For example, using rules-based configuration, the access point of an access control system can be programmed to limit access to not just specific card holders, but to a certain number of people. The access point contains that intelligence, and more, on a chip, so even if the network goes down and it loses access to the server it is able to act autonomously. The server is also more intelligent.
The access control server no longer just opens and closes doors; it is able to integrate with other systems, make decisions about what data to look at, and apply analytics to the data from these systems to identify anomalies or take key actions. It drives intelligence into the network. In an era of data overload this is of tremendous benefit to the organisation.
How are organisations using IP security solutions right now? Some that remain cost bound or do not have a high risk profile are simply putting in a few IP cameras and smartening up the access control system by replacing it with an IP solution. Others, usually larger companies and those with high risk areas or critical functions to secure, are making use of more advanced solutions. These are platform-based systems that enable integration of facility systems (access control, CCTV, lighting and air conditioning) and backend systems (e.g., HR systems), and which have intelligence built in. These organisations may also have a central control room monitoring and managing security-related events and interactions.
One constant with IP based systems, however, is that they have longevity. They can be upgraded if the risks change. And because everything is now digital, change is constant and threats continually evolve. The cyber threats that IP solutions may expose the organisation – and their customers – to, need to be taken into account. Any IP-based system should also be the concern of the ICT department. These systems are built to be secure but integration with other systems demands that the ICT department take the necessary steps to ensure patches and virus upgrades are applied.
As cloud solutions and hosting options becomes more ubiquitous, more organisations are considering them. Among others, they are more cost effective and provide access to more intelligence – that includes analytics functionality and benchmarking, but also access to external information such as weather reports or news reports on strikes or even social media feeds that may alert the organisation to relevant threats.
The future is all-IP. For organisations, how quickly they ramp up depends on their risk profile. What is sure is that there are huge benefits to be had for a low capital outlay.