15 Jun 2017

Making Buildings Smarter with Access Control

By Mitchel Kane, President, Vanderbilt

Access control has always existed as a fundamental element of security, but with advancements in technology and hardware, its applications are becoming more widespread and multifaceted. Smart buildings, including those that use automation to control and manage their operations, are integrating access control systems with other building management systems to create an open and streamlined environment that also promotes the security and safety of visitors, employees and assets.

Many of today’s access control systems have the ability to integrate seamlessly with building management to save energy, for example. More specifically, an access control system can record when the last person leaves a building, communicating that information with the building management system. Using that information, a thermostat can be automatically adjusted to either reduce the heat or air conditioning accordingly, helping to reduce energy costs. Additionally, stand-alone intelligent controllers, such as motion-detection lights that can be turned off after minimal activity, can save energy and money.

Access control systems already give security leaders the advantage of streamlining operations by allowing them to perform certain functions through mobile devices, such as granting permission and viewing live surveillance. This helps boost operational efficiency by enabling remote oversight and provides flexibility in a changing environment. Furthermore, features like protecting employees and tenants through visitor management in high-rise office buildings or apartment complexes and built-in parking controls can further provide protection for people and assets. Combine the access with video, and these leaders now have the ability to gain critical information that can be used in an emergency.

The data generated from access control systems can also contribute to the smartness of a building. Security leaders can use this data to make adjustments in training for tenants or employees. For example, if a door is being consistently propped open, or takes too long to shut after being used, that information can be used to determine how the problem can be solved.

Future developments in the access control-smart building arena will continue to focus on saving resources and maximizing investment. Next-generation intelligent systems will be able to centrally control all areas of a building, including heating, ventilation, air conditioning, power, lighting, security, access services and occupancy sensors. Another development will be open-sourced technology that allows easy integration between systems. Usage of event management access control, which allows building managers to schedule doors to automatically lock and unlock, will also progress.

Smart buildings already possess an array of useful and convenient capabilities, but adding access control can establish an expansion in versatility and safety.