The options for securing your building’s entrances are greater today than ever before. With electronic hardware, it’s easy to get just the right level of security and to change it as your needs change. In the past, extensive and complicated wiring requirements often limited the application of more complex door security solutions. New approaches have made it easy. Following are a few possibilities to consider.Simplified hard-wired systems soon will require far less wiring than before. This is a recent and emerging development. Until now, a typical installation such as a delayed exit device entailed from 12 to 18 different wires that had to be connected correctly. One manufacturer is developing a technology that soon will greatly reduce the time, cost, complexity, and skill required to specify and install electrified door hardware products. By giving electrified components “intelligence,” this will make it easier to install, configure, and maintain the hardware products in a facility. Such advances also will make it easier to integrate a wide variety of equipment, even from multiple manufacturers, into a single system. An integral part of this solution is a software program that runs on a handheld device and makes it possible to control the connected hardware products so they function exactly as needed for the application.Computer-managed (CM) standalone devices require no wiring. Because their electronic functions are internal, and they are battery-operated, installation is simple and not much different from installing a mechanical lock. However, they provide the added benefits of audit trails, with better “key” control and ease of changing, canceling, or issuing new credentials. Models are available that can use all popular credentials, including PIN numbers, magnetic stripe cards, proximity cards, or I-buttons, either alone or in combination for higher levels of security.More sophisticated and versatile computer-managed devices are becoming available to increase security system versatility. One example is the increasing use of biometric devices for access control. These can utilize either resident or centralized databases, or possibly data carried on “smart” cards. For the majority of access control applications in use today, the most practical and proven methods use all or part of the hand as a credential. Hand geometry systems use the size and shape of the hand and fingers to verify identity. The unique features are stored in a template, which is used for subsequent verification. This technology has been utilized to control access in a wide array of applications ranging from the main entrances of nuclear power plants and airport service areas to health clubs.Openings can be protected by using a broad combination of basic mechanical products (i.e. mortise locks, door closers), conventional electrified products (electrified strikes or latch retraction), software-managed electronic products (CM locks), and biometric products (hand readers).Remember, though, that an electrical or electronic lock still requires a high-quality mechanical latching to provide the final security link. Likewise, an expensive computerized lock can’t provide any security if the door fails to shut and latch properly because the door closer is improperly adjusted. Hardware is still an important and necessary link in a building’s security system.Cindy English is marketing communications manager at IR Security & Safety (www.irsecurityandsafety.com), Indianapolis.