For Facility Security, Connect Access Control Software

02/18/2020 | By Eric Widlitz

Connectivity: That’s the name of the game these days as buildings become smarter and facilities managers strive to maintain energy efficiency and streamlined operations. And it’s no wonder this is the case with the amount of data being collected from sensors like video cameras, access control readers, intelligent HVAC units, lighting and much, much more.

Gartner predicts that there will be 20.4 billion IoT devices by 2020. As data continually is collected, organizations are tasked with identifying the best ways to use that information to their advantage.

For today’s forward-thinking facilities, this can be achieved through the implementation of data sharing and integration between systems that control access to a building or specific area. The goal would be to connect occupant management software with access control to achieve a number of benefits, which we will discuss. 

Lighting Control

Automatic lighting is not a new phenomenon by any means, but the implementation of this technology has been slow to spread. However, with the addition of “smart” devices (think Google Home or Amazon Echo, but for large facilities) there’s a significant shift toward streamlining control of a facility’s lighting.

Software integration between access control platforms and smart lighting technology can help make this a reality, signaling when someone has entered the facility and triggering a response to turn lighting on in a specific location. Similarly, the same can be implemented when the last person exits the building to signal additional lighting to be turned off. This can significantly impact cost savings by reducing energy usage.

Heating/Cooling Management

Heating and cooling can be a significant expense, which means people are interested in measures that can address usage based on need.

Using access control software to “talk” to controls for heating and cooling works by providing information about who is still present within a facility at any given time. When the first person to come in for the day swipes their card, that information from the access management software can trigger an automatic update for the HVAC system to turn the system on for the day and vice versa at night when the last person leaves the building.

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Going further, software integration can also be customized to the point of controlling the temperature based on someone’s preferences within a specific office space, which may seem futuristic, but holds the promise of future customization options. 

Building Occupancy

Access control information about building occupancy and usage can be collected to determine whether space can be allocated differently.

For example, integrating access control software into event management software for reserving rooms can glean valuable data for which rooms are used the most (and by whom), how long they are used and how many people are utilizing the space.

When a space isn’t being used (based on the level of access), facility managers can work with management to determine whether there are other uses to better serve employees, which can be invaluable in organizations that are looking to save money or need additional space.

Human Resources Records

When a human resources department is tasked with the management of employee information for payroll, there’s software for that. What makes this software really stand out is when it can be integrated with access control software to streamline onboarding of an employee.

For example, with the click of a button, a badge can be activated to provide access to a facility and where levels of access are used. Staff can also easily control who has access to various parts of a building. The benefits of this functionality for facilities managers is the ability to streamline the addition of new employees, while also shutting down access immediately in the event of a negative parting with an employee. 

Strengthened Security

At the end of the day, the goal of integrating access control software with other software is security of assets and the people within the organization. The ability to gather information about visitors, building occupancy and who is present at any given time can provide valuable information to security leaders in the event of an incident, funneling critical information with the push of a button.

Access control software has the ability to deploy lockdown functionality in an emergency while building occupancy software can pinpoint where people are so they can be evacuated safely. All of this technology combined seeks to offer today’s organizations the peace of mind they need to ensure the safety of all occupants.

For facility managers, finding a partner—whether it’s an integrator, manufacturer or consultant—who understands the challenges of your business is critical to the success of your security technology beyond simply protecting a facility. An important step in analyzing a technology investment is understanding a company or solution’s pain points and the other systems that are available to integrate successfully. 

About the author: Eric Widlitz is vice president of North American Sales, Vanderbilt Industries.

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