There is always a trade-off between security and costs. Since organizations can’t afford to place an armed guard at each door 24/7, they rely on video cameras, access control systems and intrusion alarms to stand watch. While card readers have been in use for decades, new IP-based access control systems can lower initial costs and improve the level of security.
Traditional door access control systems use centralized control panels with traditional card readers at the doors. In a multi-site installation, these readers are wired back to a central control panel. They also require running a separate power connection to each of the door’s ancillary hardware devices and accessories like the lock, REX button and door open sensor.
Over the years, however, more intelligent IP-based devices have been developed that embed the intelligence (business rules/permissions) in the card reader, eliminating the need for control panels. They also use the existing Ethernet networks for both power and data connectivity, providing a more flexible and scalable security system installation.
These advances lower the cost of ownership in five ways:
#1. Lower Equipment Costs
Traditional card reader systems required a high initial capital investment for equipment and wiring. The organization first had to purchase a control panel and then a card reader and a controller for each door. Each panel was limited in terms of the number of doors it could manage. Adding one door over that limit required purchase of an additional control panel. Each door also required running both power and data connections to the control panel and to separate power supplies.
IP-based door access technology eliminates the control panel and specialized wiring. The IP reader/controller simply hooks into the organization’s existing network using a standard Cat-5/6 Ethernet cable. These devices use Power over Ethernet (PoE), which means power is supplied by the network switch via the Ethernet cable, eliminating the need to hardwire into building power.
Instead of using specialized control panels, the credential database is entered into a computer (for multiple door installations) and into the reader-controller itself. With embedded intelligence in the reader-controller, it can make decisions at the door without going into a degraded mode when communication with the server or the network is lost, thus creating a system that has no single point of failure in its architecture.
#2. Reduced Installation Costs
Traditional access control systems involve installing two separate devices –the reader and the controller – at each door, in addition to the costs of installing the control panels. Perhaps the biggest installation cost, however, is running both a power cable and a data cable to each door.
With IP-based readers, there is a single device to install at the door and there is no need to run building power to the door. Since the IP reader and door electronic hardware are powered by the network through the Ethernet cabling, it only requires a connection to the nearest network PoE switch.
“Most companies have already made a fairly significant investment in their network infrastructure,” says Michael Radicella, CTO and founder of ISONAS Security Systems. “It only makes sense to use the existing network instead of installing a separate, proprietary system at additional cost.”
Established in 1999, Colorado-based ISONAS Security Systems designs, manufactures and distributes the patented panel-free, IP-based security access control system called PowerNet.
An IP-based system such as PowerNet can eliminate as much as half the labor costs for installation. Additional savings comes in the form of using Cat-5/6 Ethernet cables, at a cost of about $.30 per foot, instead of traditional 18-2 or composite power wiring which can cost a dollar or more per foot.
With multi-building or multi-campus installations, the costs of traditional systems are much higher because of the need of specialized hardware to connect the buildings, but with IP-based control systems, the data can run over existing network connections.
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