ACRE COO looks at future of access control

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05/23/2018

LAS VEGAS—Security Systems News caught up with ACRE COO Ron Virden, who this week published a great piece titled, “Electronic Access Control & The Future of Security: Is the Lock and Key Obsolete?”

Virden noted in his article that the end of the traditional lock and key may be here as wireless technologies transform “the possibilities for electronic access control.”

With Google and Amazon getting into the residential space, they are “really helping to drive that tipping point and you will see the consumer demand speed this up into the corporate space, especially the SMB market where we are already seeing this happen,” he told SSN. “But for the larger [enterprise] groups, where you still have to have the identification piece that a badge provides, the migration will take longer and I don’t know if it will ever be a 100 percent migration to mobile.”

And while wireless locks have been in existence for a long time, “next-generation products equipped with near-field communication and Bluetooth represent a quantum leap forward,” he noted in his article. “With established players such as ASSA ABLOY, Allegion and Dormakaba bringing their high-tech products to the market, wireless will rapidly become the standard means of managing access.”

He continued, “This is game-changing because it extends monitoring and control capabilities to a far wider range of access points. Today, most organizations limit digital locks and access credentials to the first line of defense—external doors. With nextgen wireless, any internal or external door can be added to the network so that traffic can be monitored and controlled throughout the building or complex. Not only does this improve the level of security and visibility, it also has the potential to provide valuable usage data that can help to reduce energy consumption, enhance safety and comfort and even provide predictive analytics that can guide space allocation or development.”

But before the industry can realize this new generation of wireless and mobile technologies, Virden said there are some challenges to overcome.

“The market is fragmented and territorial with lock manufacturers and mobile access firms focused on developing proprietary credentialing systems that protect their market share,” he explained in his piece. “However, that doesn’t serve the needs of the consumer or business market, both of which are resistant to being ‘locked’ into a specific brand of hardware or software.”

This is why, Virden told SSN, "open platform" is so important. “If you look at the intrusion business, you can go in and take over a panel and you can change who your provider is, so we have to have some way in the future for companies to not just be wed to one platform, and if you want to change who your credential provider is, you are able to do that,” he said.

Companies that focus on open platform and working well with others will benefit the most moving forward. “Focusing on hardware-agnostic software or credential-agnostic hardware will generate a bigger, more sustainable market,” he noted in his article. “Players that adopt a collaborative approach, aim for the mid-market, and look for ways to add value—whether through enhanced safety, convenience or data-driven insight—will see big opportunities in the coming years.”

For the full version of Virden’s article, click here.

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