Going Wireless with OSI's Wireless Access Management System

July 1, 2006
OSI's WAMS readers are the first battery- powered standalone access control systems capable of real-time remote access control management.

The development of electromechanical locks has taken a major leap forward with the introduction of the OSI Security Devices WAMS, an acronym for Wireless Access Management System. WAMS readers offer real-time communication with the host computer without the wiring or controllers that are normally required for communication and operation of hard-wired systems. No longer must a wireless battery-powered access control device require a person to either go to the device in order to download the audit trail or walk to the device in order to program personnel or time-schedule changes.

The OSI Wireless Access Management System is comprised of electromechanical reader locks, wall-mount systems (using separate electrified locking mechanisms), exit device adapters, and Quick Adapters that are installed at the door openings. To wirelessly communicate with the host computer, OSI has developed the Portal Gateway. The Portal Gateway, which is very similar to a wireless router, can communicate with the WAMS locking device(s) wirelessly using an encrypted data exchange.

Portal Gateways are DC powered and are wired to the host computer using either a standard Ethernet Local Area Network (LAN) or a Wireless 802.11 B/G Wireless network. The maximum distance a Portal Gateway can be located from the host computer is determined by the network. For example, on a typical university campus network, Portals may be located anywhere on the campus; and, if connectivity is available to satellite campuses in other cities, states, or around the globe, then those campuses may also connect Portal Gateways to this Wide Area Network (WAN).

The WAMS reader locks are available in both cylindrical and mortise configuration. The cylindrical reader locks fit standard 161 door preparation, minimizing retrofit installation time. The mortise reader locks install in a standard mortise door preparation and require an additional two 3/16-inch holes to install the reader lock on a door. Quick Adapters have been developed for retrofitting to existing specific Schlage Grade-1 cylindrical lock models to become WAMS compatible. All OSI WAMS readers are ADA compliant.

These battery powered electromechanical access control devices are self-contained and are designed for exterior or interior applications. Outdoor weather resistant versions withstand temperature variations from minus 40 degrees C to 54 degrees C. Reader locks are available with options including Request to Exit (REX), Door Switch Monitoring (DSM) and/or Door Lock Monitoring (DLM).

Each WAMS device can support up to 2,000, 10,000, 20,000, 32,000, or a maximum of 65,000 credential holders at one time. Each cardholder can be programmed for unique access levels. Expanding the user capacity of a reader lock only requires upgrading the firmware using a software-entered key.

WAMS devices are capable of supporting up to 176 user-defined Time Zones with six time intervals per Time Zone, where each Time Zone can cross midnight. There are 32 user-defined holiday periods. A unique feature of the holiday periods is that they can be set by the day or date. For example, News Years Eve is always Dec. 31; however, Thanksgiving is always the fourth Thursday of November. By having both methods of defining a holiday, WAMS can eliminate having to reprogram certain holidays every year.

The WAMS devices control access using single or dual credentials. For example, a user may be required to present only his Proximity card; or he may be required to present his Proximity card plus enter a keypad PIN. The WAMS devices are capable of handling multiple reader technologies including keypad entries, and can accommodate several different card formats.

The available card formats include magnetic stripe tracks 2 or 3, HID proximity cards, MIFARE cards, CAC contact smart cards, and FIPS contact-less smart cards. Keypad users may enter user ID codes ranging from four to 10 digits in length and keypad PINs from three to six digits. Applicable card formats are determined by the selected configuration of the WAMS device. Each WAMS device has the storage capability of its audit trail (see Table 1 below).


The OSI WAMS devices communicate with the host computer via Portal Gateways. Portal Gateways provide bi-directional communication between the WAMS and the host computer. Communications are via secure AES 128-Bit encrypted 2.4 GHz using spread spectrum RF Radio technology. According to OSI Security Devices, the typical range averages 150 feet to a clear line of sight of 300 feet between a Portal gateway and a reader lock. Directional antennas are available to extend the range of the gateway to over 1,000 feet. Portal Gateways are DC-powered and are connected to the Host computer using a Local Area Network (LAN) connection.

Table 1. WAMS Storage Capability
ID Capacity
Transaction Capacity
2,000 users
89,594 events
10,000 users
80,867 events
20,000 users
72,656 events
32,000 users
59,049 events
65,000 users
20, 867 events

Communication from the Portal Gateway to the WAMS Device is always wireless, but communication between the Host computer and the Portal Gateway may be established in several ways:

The Portal Gateway may be connected to the host computer using an Ethernet 10/100 Base T crossover cable.

The Portal Gateway may be connected to the host computer using an existing Ethernet 10/100 Base T wired network backbone. At locations where WAMS devices are installed, the end user may connect a Portal Gateway to their network in a convenient network closet or conceal the Portal in a raised ceiling.

The Portal Gateway may be connected to the host computer using an existing approved 802.11 B/G wireless backbone. At locations where WAMS devices are deployed, the end user may connect the Portal to the network output of a Wireless 802.11 B/G router.

One Portal Gateway can interact with up to 128 WAMS devices. The basic Portal Gateway is factory configured to control up to 16 WAMS devices. However each Portal Gateway can be upgraded to control 32, 64, or 128 devices. Like the WAMS Readers, expansion of the Portal Gateway's capacity of WAMS devices only requires upgrading the firmware using a software-entered key.

Note: Portal Gateways continuously run a Statistics Monitor software application that has built-in diagnostics to monitor signal strength, battery voltage, data packet integrity, in addition to allowing wireless reader and firmware support. Any detected irregularities are immediately reported back to the host computer.

Portal Gateways can be ordered with a number of options including tamper alarm, AC power failure detection, Fire Alarm or Weather Alert Shutdown, 12VDC lead-acid battery backup, low battery charge rate, and/or low battery alarm.


The OSI Wireless Access Management System (WAMS) is an SQL-server application that uses the latest available software tools and utilities such as .NET Framework. The WAMS software incorporates three system software tools: the WAMS Configurator, WAMS Transactions, and the WAMS Statistics Monitor.

The WAMS Configurator Software is the WAMS system administrator's Graphic User Interface, or "Gooey." Four primary menus on the taskbar of this software application allow end users to tailor their access control system. The menus are as follows:

Readers: This menu allows users to create a facility tree of readers and portal gateways. The facility tree provides a visual image of how the WAMS equipment is interacting and operating. As new portals and readers are added to the system, the system demonstrates true "plug-and-play" functionality, offering the end user the ability create locations and drag-and-drop new readers and portals where they belong within the facility tree.

Facility: This software menu allows end users to organize their facility database. Separate User Groups may classify users; specific Card data may be identified as required, and new facilities may be created within the software.

Time Zones: This menu offers end users the opportunity to change Access Levels automatically on some or all of their WAMS readers. The available access levels are Unlock, Unlock with ID, ID Required, ID plus PIN Required, Facility Card Mode, Lockout, and Toggle Entry. These events may be set up to automatically occur at desired times throughout the day, week, month, and year. For example, a typical Time Schedule will for a Personnel Office would be: 0730 Unlock with ID, 1700 ID Required, 2100 ID plus PIN required. In this time schedule, any authorized code or card user who presented their credential to the door after 0730 would unlock the reader and the reader would remain unlocked until 1700 hours. At 1700 hours the reader would automatically re-lock and go to the ID Required state. In the ID Required access level, readers unlock momentarily for the default unlock time (usually three seconds, but this setting may be set for each individual so in the case of a handicapped person, a door can be unlocked for 15 seconds). At 2100, this reader will require both an ID card or code PLUS an keypad PIN to allow entry. In addition to automatic time-scheduled events, users may set up holidays for any or all of their readers.

Users: The Users menu allows the system administrator to add or delete users from the system, add or delete users to or from particular readers, or to associate users with User Groups or Time Zones. In the WAMS system, each user may have as many as four credentials associated with his user profile. For example, a particular end user may be able to use his or her Proximity Card or ID Code on some or all of the readers in a facility.

The WAMS Software allows multiple system users to log on to the database simultaneously. Users may also be granted certain privileges or may have restrictions assigned to their system password. By clicking on File and then on Manage Application Users, the system administrator may grant or restrict access privileges to each individual system password user.


The WAMS Transactions software application allows system administrators to monitor, view, and sort reader transactions. The following transactions are currently displayed in the Transactions Log:

Entry: This event indicates the name, time and location of the reader accessed by an individual.

Attempt: This event indicates when an end user makes an attempt to open a particular reader. If an unknown user attempts to enter using a card or code, the system will log an attempt and it will capture the user's attempted card or code number in the transaction log.

Key Bypass: On reader locks that have this option, a Key Bypass is recorded in the transaction log. When a key is used to enter the door, the Alarm Shunt is triggered.

Access Level Change: Any time-scheduled or manager-induced access level change is reported.

Request to Exit: On WAMS reader locks with this option, a Request to Exit is recorded any time the inside lever is rotated and the Door Switch Monitoring (DSM) contacts detect that the door is actually opened.

Forced Entry: This alarm state is immediately reported back to the host computer when a door is forced open. Reader locks that have this option are equipped with a Door Switch Monitor (DSM) contact and an REX switch.

Door Open Too Long: This event is recorded in the transaction report if a door is held open longer than the reader's Alarm Shunt set time.

Lost Data: If a Portal Gateway or a device goes off-line for any reason, a Lost Data event is reported in the transaction log.

Low Battery: A Low Battery event is recorded in the transaction log whenever a reader's batteries get to a level of 4000 milli-volts. At this level, the reader should still operate properly for 10,000 more cycles.

WAMS Transactions software has the ability to report alarms and sound an audible alarm on the host computer to notify system users that an alarm has been triggered. It utilizes the latest .NET Framework software that allows end users to sort their transactions however they wish.

WAMS Statistics Monitor software application provides real-time monitoring of the WAMS system's operation. This software application monitors four system statistics:

Voltage: This field monitors the battery voltage of the WAMS Readers.

Signal: This screen monitors and displays the radio signal strength at the reader and at the Portal Gateway. Measurements are in decibels (dB).

Packet Ratio: This field monitors and displays the quality of the data packets that are transmitted to and received from the WAMS Readers and Portals. The Packet Ratio at the Portal and at the Reader are both monitored and displayed.

User Capacity: This field displays not only the particular readers user capacity (2000, 10000, 20000, 32000, or 65000 users each), but also displays how many users are actually enrolled in a particular reader.

The Statistics Monitor is not only a troubleshooting and housekeeping tool, but it provides a powerful function as an aid to setting up or expanding a WAMS System. End Users may move their readers from place to place and verify that signal strength remains high and that data packets are of high quality.

Each OSI WAMS device operates using four 'AA' alkaline batteries. Approximately 120,000 transactions can be completed using one set of batteries. OSI recommends replacing the batteries once a year. Additionally, each WAMS device has the ability to operate using external 12-24 VDC/VAC and rely on the four 'AA' cells for backup.

To operate the OSI WAMS software, the host computer must be operating the latest versions of Windows XP Professional or Windows 2000, Windows Service Pack 2, Internet Information Services (IIS) including the .NET Framework 1.1 and .NET Framework 2.0.

Existing OSI devices can be retrofitted to the WAMS technology. Contact the factory for more information.

For information, contact your local locksmith wholesaler or OSI Security Devices, Inc., 1580 Jayken Way, Chula Vista, CA 91911-4644. Telephone: 619-628-1000. Web Site: www.omnilock.com.

Rick Rasmussen is VP of Sales at OSI Security Devices. An ex-Navy man, Rick spent some 20 years in the defense electronic and military intelligence-gathering community.