My earliest memory of remotely controlling access other than throwing a key out a window to my brother was installing an electric strike that was operated by a doorbell button. We have come a long way since then.
Access control has been and is continuously being update, upgraded and redefined. A generalized locksmith definition is a system which enables an authority to control access through doors, gates or any openable obstruction in a given facility. For most locksmiths, controlling access through a door is the primary task.
Today, our customers want more functionality. Audit trails, multiple user groups and time zones are no longer considered options. The ability to lock-out individuals and groups at a moment’s notice and have very stringent access time frames seem to be of increasing interest. But it seems the most important consideration that is being asked for is, “how do I know how many persons are entering the building or area when someone gains access?”
Even for companies that have a receptionist or front desk person, the employees usually enter through the rear. Very few companies can afford or want to have a security guard at the entry point.
There are two basic options to answer that question. The first involves construction of a mantrap and hiring a watcher, not really a viable option for most companies. The second option is to incorporate a video camera that operates in conjunction with the access control system software. The video can be viewed at a later point. This means that should more than one authorized person enter, the powers-that-be will be able to find out.
The video capture is for about five to ten seconds before the door opens and enough time recorded until the door closes and is secured, probably no more than 30 seconds. Not too much time for some of you to view at a faster speed since the camera will be fixed and any image that contains more than one person entering will really need to be looked at.
As far as I know, there is no one manufacturer whose products are sold throughout the locksmith channel that offers video as part of its access control product line. Please let me know if there is such a manufacturer.
So I have been looking for access control hardware and software that can incorporate video at a “locksmith level,” defined to include access control systems that operate up to approximately eight to ten doors. Most access control systems installed by locksmiths are this size. This is not to say that locksmith do not install large systems.
The software is the key. Access control software is designed to provide the mechanism for operating the mechanical components of an access control system. Access control software communicates with the readers, locks, sensors and any other piece of equipment that performs a specific function relative to controlling access. The majority of access control software is available from manufacturers of electromechanical lock hardware. Many lock manufacturers require that their electromechanical standalone locks and compatible readers operate with their software. The locks are proprietary to the company’s software. In turn, other company’s hardware may not be compatible.
Basic software may or may not include networked locks. In addition, the free or inexpensive network software may not have all the functionality your customer may want. Make sure all of the functionality your customer may want is available before considering a company’s high-end software package.
There are companies that produce door controllers and access control software or just access control software that is designed to operate with specific lock manufacturers’ hardware or non-proprietary electromechanical locks. Non-proprietary electromechanical network standalone locks are designed to operate with other company’s software that is compatible.