Photo 166956311 © Robert Kneschke |
Access control systems are now helping deliver business intelligence for interconnected buildings.

How Access Control Systems Deliver Business Intelligence

June 28, 2024
Knowledge is power—and your access control system can facilitate the knowledge you need to manage your building efficiently. Here’s how.

The way we manage buildings is changing. In years gone by, every building service had its own isolated infrastructure and likely used disparate systems, standards, and protocols. That’s all changed, and we live in an age where the Internet of Things (IoT), the cloud and the ability of building services to communicate and work together via a single physical network are helping to turn raw data into meaningful information that makes running buildings more efficient.

Today, an increasing amount of the true value of a building lies in the intelligence embedded in the fabric of its infrastructure and the lessons we can learn from what this data reveals.

A Step in the Right Direction

As well as making buildings more secure and reducing the risk of unauthorized access through innovations such as biometrics, access control technology is revolutionizing building management. By effortlessly merging with other building services such as CCTV, lighting, lift management, digital signage, water management and fire detection, as well as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, it is possible to deliver greater operational insights and efficiencies, helping building managers run more efficient and effective sites.

IoT sensors can monitor an array of parameters, including temperature and humidity, as well as indoor air quality, zone by zone power usage, occupancy and space utilization. This integration allows us to intelligently cater to the requirements of occupants. For instance, when an employee swipes their access card to enter a room, the system can adjust temperature and lighting to their personalized preferences, enhancing both comfort and energy conservation.

This offers a valuable springboard for growth and development and can optimize energy use within a building. With organizations taking their environmental, social and governance (ESG) responsibilities more seriously, analyzing building occupancy data assists in determining where lighting, HVAC and other power-hungry building services are truly needed, putting a stop to wasted energy.

Furthermore, analyzing foot traffic patterns can reveal the effectiveness of the building layout and highlight any areas of over or underutilization. This data can also inform the development of systems for booking occupant rooms or desks, thereby optimizing space allocation, and can also be exceptionally useful where co-working or hybrid spaces exist.

Number Crunching

According to Gartner’s definition of the term, BI “includes the applications, infrastructure and tools, and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimize decisions and performance.” However, while the availability of operational data is welcome, many organizations may feel that the sheer volume of the data they can access is overwhelming.

Data needs to be reviewed and analyzed to turn it into something useful. It's crucial to outline objectives, requirements, constraints and criteria for optimization, which involves ascertaining the essential information for business operations.

Focusing on high-value, target-rich data that is easy to access and available in real time will lead to meaningful change through appropriate analysis and follow-up action.

Single Life

Being able to analyze and respond to data from multiple sources via a single touch point has considerable benefits. Cloud-based integrated security management platforms offer an intelligent, centrally controlled management platform designed for monitoring data. Real-time visual cues via a fully customizable dashboard present insightful data on various operational elements, featuring user-friendly icons, graphs and images tailored to specific needs. These types of management platforms can be accessed from anywhere via an internet-connected device, making this an appealing option for busy building management professionals.

A wide range of analytical parameters can be established—anything from weather conditions, traffic and footfall data to transaction conversion rates, wait times, site comparison and performance metrics. Additionally, heat mapping allows end users to visually track movement within a location to identify behavioral patterns, while implementing advanced filtering and using data visualization tools makes it easy for meaningful insights to be extracted both historically and in real time.

Performance Art

Key performance indicators (KPIs) can also be established. For example, to bolster loss prevention and detect employee fraud in a retail environment, access control reporting supplemented with video evidence can pinpoint offenders within an organization. Store managers can scrutinize all employee transactional activities, assess staffing levels, job roles and hourly revenue generation.

Likewise, in an office environment, it is possible to pinpoint exactly who was where and for how long, how they moved around a building or campus and when abnormal patterns of behavior were being exhibited. Access control can even be granted or denied to specific personnel at different times, making it not only good for security but also health and safety.

A good example of the real-world benefits of access control data can be seen in the banking sector. By tracking movement, the system can identify anomalies and unauthorized attempts to access restricted areas or information and can be integrated with surveillance cameras and intrusion detection systems to provide a comprehensive solution. What’s more, by integrating access control systems with energy monitoring technologies, banks can gain valuable insights into their environmental footprint and energy consumption patterns. This can identify, for example, areas of a building where lights or HVAC systems are being left on unnecessarily, leading to energy waste.

Success Story

Modern access control technology offers heightened security, effortless integration, data-driven analysis, user-friendly features, energy efficiency, flexibility and scalability, as well as swift emergency response capabilities. It is reshaping the operational landscape of buildings, optimizing the user experience, and providing demonstrable organizational benefits. Embracing these advancements isn't optional—it's imperative for those striving to maintain competitiveness in today's dynamic market.

About the Author

Steve Barton

Steve Barton is VP of business development at Pacom and an experienced technology leader. Previously CTO and latterly managing director of the business, Steve has worked within Pacom Systems for more than 30 years. Steve holds a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours from Sydney University.

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