As electronics play an increasing role in managing a building's entrances, school administrators can justify a greater initial investment on door systems. Access-security and egress-safety features are being combined into systems that generate data for asset tracking or personnel scheduling. These and many other applications are reshaping the role of entryways and providing solutions that can be translated into savings. The resulting economic benefits are making electrical solutions more affordable.
As more entrances are being equipped with access-control systems that incorporate technology, they can deliver value in other areas. Functions such as personnel scheduling or time and attendance recordkeeping can be automated. Networking intelligent entrances can improve building system efficiency.
In residence halls, electronic keying or deadbolt systems can eliminate the need to replace locks when a new resident moves in, or when key control has been compromised. Old keys can be made inoperative, and the locks can be programmed to give specific keys access only on certain days and times for maintenance or cleaning services.
A door's hardware components no longer are merely individual entities. A growing number of hardware choices increases the complexity of the entrance. As more components become electrified, access-control functions can be combined with egress hardware and sensors that monitor the functions of mechanical hardware. In a networked system, for example, a malfunctioning closer or latch will be reported at once, which allows more efficient maintenance.
Individual door systems can be a part of a building network. Managing 50 doors on one system is much easier and more cost-effective than managing each opening separately.
Replacing locks or rekeying, which can occupy much of a locksmith's time, virtually can be eliminated with an electronic access-control system. Moreover, diagnostic features can make it possible to determine when a door needs maintenance work.
Integrated building systems allow remote monitoring of a door by way of the Internet. This not only improves security, but also makes it more efficient to administer. For example, if a user presents an invalid credential, a signal will alert a security officer, who can redirect a camera to view the entrance.
Thinking of an entrance as an engineered system instead of a collection of individual components allows schools to gather data that can be “mined” in many ways. Personnel scheduling is one such area. When biometrics are used, schools and universities can manage and control staffing more effectively.
Asset tracking is another practical use. As we move toward greater use of radio-frequency (RF) technology, it will become easier to gather data. With an RF tag, schools can passively monitor when an asset passes through an entrance.
Concerns about security and efficiency are driving the growing popularity of biometric applications. According to Frost & Sullivan's World Biometric Report 2002, hand geometry is the dominant biometric technology for access control and time-and-attendance applications. It is especially suited for handling large volumes of transactions.
Initially seen as a high-security solution, biometrics is being used more extensively in everyday applications. Installation costs for a biometric system may be higher than a card system, but the costs of cards ($15 to $30 per unit) and other administrative expenses help close the gaps between the two system types. Biometric systems make it easy to remove people from the system and eliminate the hassle of reissuing credentials.
Keys or card-based systems can show when a card, key or PIN number is used to enter a facility, but biometric systems can determine when a person comes through an entrance.
Time-and-attendance is perhaps the most straightforward use of biometrics. It can save up to 5 percent of payroll costs by eliminating “buddy punching” and removing the cost and administrative work associated with badges. In typical applications, the payback can be measured in weeks.
Biometrics also can be used in a membership setting to validate that people actually are who they say they are. In recreation facilities, for example, it helps protect revenues and cut losses from people sharing a membership. It also can reduce staffing needed at the front desk to verify membership.
Some of these systems can store biometric profiles, either on a network or on a “smart card” that is carried with an individual. For applications in which access points are widespread and difficult to link in a network, a card will make the use of biometrics easier to manage. In addition, when the information resides only on the card, this solution eases privacy concerns. For systems that are more contained, such as on a single campus, the use of network systems undoubtedly will continue.
Simplified wiring systems now being developed will make installation of these systems easier. At the same time, some door systems have diagnostic capabilities that pinpoint installation errors, aid in adjustment and assist with troubleshooting.
Mechanical hardware also is being designed to increase user value. One example is the growing use of vandal-resistant lever trim that gives way under abuse or attack instead of breaking. That can save replacement costs and bolster security. Another example is a recessed exit device that helps minimize damage by carts and gurneys while improving corridor clear-width and aesthetics.
Biometrics is being used more extensively in everyday applications:
TIME AND ATTENDANCE
It can save up to 5 percent of payroll costs by eliminating “buddy punching” and removing the cost and administrative work associated with badges.
It can be used to validate that people actually are who they say they are — in recreation facilities, for example.
Steinman is president of IR Security & Safety Americas, Carmel, Ind.