Posts Tagged ‘ RFID’



Access Control Egress

Written By:
Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

firedoor2

The events that have happened in the news this past decade have ignited the security industry with many new devices to lock down your area of operation.  Since the expansion of security implementation across the planet there have been growing exponentially and confirmed concerns with access control usage such as people being trapped in burning buildings. Problems occur in the system design when implementing a system to secure the perimeter of a building and restrict egress from the building.  Access control methods such as using the employee badge or radio frequency key card (RFID) to enter and exit may not be appropriate in an emergency situation, especially since people have a tendency to panic.  Professional security access control companies can take steps to reduce or all together stop the negative impact that safety regulations require for egress of a building. Now let’s dive into how safety goals and access control security can be combined with exit points and alarm triggers.

Exit locations controlling access is the main concern from security professionals everywhere and creates strife between security and Fire safety regulators.  While it is allowed to lock your doors to prevent unwanted access to the building in fire code requirements, it is never allowed to inhibit egress from a building. National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA  Life states that every person within the building must be able to exit all doors in their path without use of tools, special knowledge, or effort for operation from the outside to open the door. In short, the path a person takes should be unobstructed to the exit and the door should be able to be open via a crash bar, lever, or very obvious huge button with large lettering that reads PUSH TO OPEN.

In most situations that address access control implementation dictates that door locks from the inside or egress side of door must open during events such as the activation of fire sprinklers or a fire alarm trigger. In most cases the door must remain unlocked until the alarms have been reset to a no-fault status.

The safety code does take into consideration that most false alarms come from smoke detectors. Since there is an understanding of the false triggers the code stipulates that the alarm can be triggered after more than 1 smoke detectors senses smoke there by triggering an alarm, or a combination of a smoke detector, heat detector, and pull station will trigger alarm. Systems for sprinklers and heat are more reliable, so the code requires evacuation when only one of these has its alarm triggered.

When companies want to have a system for access control to use card readers or other biometric access for tracking and restriction of movement in the building the company will have to have a way to address the fire code regulations for free egress in the event of an emergency. Specific hardware will have to be installed on the doors for exit. Panic hardware can come in different shapes and sizes. The main types of hardware are mechanical and electrical. Sometimes these can look like buttons label “PUSH TO EXIT”, or something like a crash bar which is just a bar to push to open the door. Mechanical actuation is from gears and hydraulics. Electronic actuation is with electric that opens or closes the lock. Such as the button to turn a mag lock on or off. Depending on the local municipality is if you will need one or both types of actuation. Most in not all areas are OK with using mechanical actuation as it does not fail in a power loss situation. The electronic actuation in many areas requires a back-up option to it such as mechanical or the door automatically becomes unlocked with no power.  Providing standardized panic hardware along the egress path normally used with access control is the best way to address the code’s egress regulations while still maintaining control at access points. The hardware will allow egress, however this can be used in conjunction with a security camera system to monitor usage in case of employees not following the badge out process policies. This would all be available for review at the Digital Video Recorder to determine if policies need to be changed or discipline action taken.

Types of panic hardware include electric and mechanical. The fixtures used will vary by location as different builders and floor plans will require. There is no one size fits all in this area. The most important standard to keep in mind is all equipment needs to be UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories) certified for use in a fire.

Certain businesses have circumstances in which they want to have personnel respond to the location before egress is allowed. This method of control can be critical to a company such as a retail outlet that does want to limit as much as possible the ability of thieves to perform a snatch and grab at their store by running out a unmonitored exit. The fire code allows for a delayed opening response from the door to prevent theft. The delay permitted is up to fifteen seconds without having to acquire a specific permit from your local fire marshal. After fifteen seconds you will have to prove need and get approval. You may request up to 30 seconds.  If you require a longer delay that will not be approved.  Also the code mandates that you will post clearly that the door does have a delay on it before opening to make the individual aware of it.

Implementing both security and safety in access control system design is not an easy task, and it does require advanced knowledge of the local codes in live setting in conjunction with access control. Prior planning is paramount for professional security experts to find inventive ways to work with the fire code to maintain control of the building for security. This will ensure a situation that will provide safety and security without code violations that turn into fines eating away at your bottom line.

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The Benefits of an Access Control System in a Business Environment

Written By:
Thursday, October 17th, 2013
Access Control In a Business

In today’s business environment, many companies have realized the benefits of having an Access Control System in place at their office buildings, industrial parks, and other facilities. However, there are still many companies that wish to rely on the old fashioned lock and key system. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of a properly installed and configured Access Control System.

The most obvious benefit is no longer making copies of keys and worrying about who has a copy of your keys. Beyond that obvious benefit, comes the ability to restrict a person’s entry by time of day, day of week, or even permanently revoke their rights on a specific date; as you may wish to do with an outside contractor who has a definitive last day that they should be entering a facility.

You can also implement an enterprise wide system that will allow specific users access to only one door and allow others access to as many doors as you have in the system. All while using something as simple as a RFID card, finger print, pass code, or other form of identification. This would allow you to issue a credential to the CEO of the company that opens all of the doors in all of the facilities of your enterprise while issuing the exact same type of card to a Janitor who is only allowed entry at 1 door during pre-set hours and days of the week.

Taking it a step further, you can require multi-factor authentication. That is to say you may require a user to present a card, enter a code, and provide a thumb print in order to gain access to the more sensitive areas of a facility. You can mix up the number and types of authentication required based on the persons role, the sensitivity of the area, or other business standards.

Moving well beyond simple allow/deny entry methodology, an Access Control system can be integrated with payroll departments to confirm that an employee arrives on time, and can provide alerts to appropriate managers and human resources if an employee fails to show up at an expected time. This could help in quickly allocating resources to fill in for missing personnel rather than wondering if someone is in the building or not.

A well designed access control system can also be either directly integrated with a CCTV surveillance system or used stand alone with basic time look-up based on events. For example, if you’re concerned that someone is presenting someone else’s credentials to gain access to an area they are not meant to be in, you can easily look-up who presented the credential. Furthermore, you can take immediate action in restricting the misused credentials to avoid any unauthorized access until disciplinary action can be taken.

Access Control Systems can, and should be integrated with any Fire alarm panel. This will provide faster egress in the event of a fire by allowing otherwise locked doors to be used as a point of exit in the event of a fire. No one needs to fumble with keys or worry about which doors are locked. A system can be configured to accept an input directly from the fire alarm system to the access control system to trigger unlocks of all doors.

In extremely secure environments, you can also design access control to provide an audit trail that would allow you to quickly and accurately determine which users entered which areas of a facility and the path they took to get there. This will also provide you with a detailed idea of who may have been present at the time of an incident. For example, if an employee slipped and fell but claimed no one saw it, you would immediately know who might have been in the area as a witness to the event.

There are a wide variety of types of credentials available to authenticate a person for access control. Some are as simple as a pin code; some are more invasive requiring finger prints, facial scans, or even an image of the veins in a wrist or hand. The most common method currently deployed in commercial applications is the card reader. This has been deemed “secure enough” for most applications. However, it can be greatly augmented with the use of another factor of credential such as a pin code. Many people are willing to “loan” their card to a trusted friend, but most are unwilling to also provide their entry code.

You can take security even further by integrating your access control system with your burglar alarm panel. It is not common that you would want the Access Control System to notify law enforcement. Usually a denied credential or mis-typed pin would not be cause for an alarm. However, there are situations that would be appropriate. You may for example, configure a “duress” code that all employees are given. In the event they are forced against their will, they could enter the “duress” code and trigger a silent alarm. They could then present the legitimate code to gain entry, with the knowledge that the appropriate law enforcement department has been notified.

You can also say goodbye to costly locksmiths. While it’s true that the initial installation of an Access Control System is significantly higher than that of a standard lock and key system. The “lost my key” syndrome is easily resolved with a simple phone call to the administrator of the system. If configured: the administrator may even be able to unlock the door to a building from anywhere in the world. Combine that ability with a well-designed CCTV system and they can also verify who they’re granting access to before they release the lock. Issuing a new credential is trivial in costs with the average RFID card being around $1 USD.

In conclusion, a properly configured, well integrated access control system can save a business time, money, and lost man hours. It can also provide an extra level of security and safety features that greatly enhance traditional building level security and safety systems.

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