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    When access control systems become outdated this can impact their performance, offering less protection for your building and its occupants. 

    Whether you’re a facilities or security manager it’s your responsibility to make sure your premises are as secure as possible. As technology improves, so too does the complexity of potential security threats. However, as with most building systems, it’s only natural to be somewhat reluctant about upgrades due to the effort and costs involved.

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    Upgrading your existing access control doesn’t need to be complicated or overly expensive. This blog outlines the 5 steps involved during the upgrade process, making your access control more secure and easier to manage while potentially saving you money in the long run. You’ll also learn more about integrating with the latest technology available, unlocking a range of useful features to help better manage your building.

    SALTO access control

    Step 1: Assess your Requirements

    When upgrading your access control, the first thing you need to do is assess your current solution and understand where there might be vulnerabilities or areas for improvement.

    Being proactive and working in real time is vital in ensuring the safety of your building and its occupants. Don’t wait until a security event or an intrusion before starting to think about upgrading your older systems. The most effective security strategies are those that can counter threats as they emerge instead of reacting to them after the fact.

    In order to do this, you need to make sure you have the best technology available. That doesn’t necessarily mean replacing all of the controllers and wiring in your current access control system. 

    While some of these components may need to be replaced, most legacy systems are compatible with the latest innovations available. This makes the upgrade process much easier and more affordable than you may have originally anticipated.

    If you are unsure what upgrades you need, start by asking the following questions:

    • What areas/points in my building require access control?
    • How many people use these areas/points?
    • At what times of the day do people need to gain access?
    • How many separate access levels are needed?
    • How will these upgrades fit into our current access control system?
    • How secure is my current card technology?
    • Can I access my system remotely?
    • Can I initiate a lockdown procedure to prevent access both in/out?
    • Do I have a problem with tailgating?
    • Are cards and fobs being effectively managed? 

    To determine your requirements and the options available, discuss with one of our security experts at Chris Lewis. You should also consider a security audit to assess vulnerabilities and what can be done to improve, making sure your premises are fully secure from security threats and remain protected all year round.

    We can also advise you on the integration opportunities available, making your security systems easier and potentially more cost effective to manage.

    Step 2: Secure your Credentials

    The main reason why building managers look to upgrade their access control is to improve how secure these systems are while also making them easier to manage. Integration is also another key consideration which is covered in more depth in step 4.

    Introducing more advanced security credentials is an effective way to make your access control more secure. The purpose of these systems is to make sure that only authorised persons can enter specified rooms, buildings, or areas of a site.

    Although outdated, keycards and keyfobs are still being used as a primary security credential for many commercial and residential applications, as well as educational buildings and other facilities that need to control the access of occupants and visitors.

    However, keycards can be lost, stolen, or copied, which may leave you vulnerable to attack as unauthorised people enter your building, possibly with the intent of stealing or damaging property.

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    However, as the technology advances and becomes more affordable, we’re starting to see more buildings implementing contactless access control solutions. These use biometrics and mobile devices, as well as encrypted card readers.

    As discussed in our access control trends article, biometric credentials have become increasingly popular, especially in buildings and facilities that demand the most secure levels of access control. There’s a perception that such tech is complex and futuristic but their use is becoming more common in other settings. Facial recognition is particularly popular though we’re also seeing iris scanning, contactless fingerprinting, and even voice pattern recognition being used to help improve site security as the technology becomes more accessible.

    Mobile credentials offer an even more convenient form of authentication. By downloading a secure app to a pre-approved smartphone, building occupants can gain entry without even having to remove the device from their pocket as the reader recognises their credentials. 

    Smartphones can also improve the security of your access control another way - by introducing two factor authentication. This upgrade can be used to enhance your legacy system. After using a keycard, fob etc. the system will ask you to enter a PIN via your smartphone in order to confirm your identity before gaining entry, adding an additional layer of security. So, even if someone gets their hands on a lost keycard, they’ll still be locked out. 

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    Step 3: Get in the Cloud

    Cloud technology has completely changed the way we think about storing and processing data. As a result this has had a major impact on security solutions including CCTV, intruder alarms, and access control.

    The cloud keeps your access control solution safe and easy to manage by storing data remotely on a heavily encrypted server over the internet. How does this differ from non-cloud solutions? Traditionally, access control systems have used local servers on-site to store information that manages the security credentials and clearance levels of everyone with access to the building. 

    Buying and installing local servers is expensive. Then you have to consider their ongoing updates and maintenance, all of which requires technician and IT callouts. There is also a chance that your servers may be damaged or vandalised which can severely impact your access control system. 

    Without the need for physical servers, the installation process is quicker and simpler, allowing for fast integration with your existing access management system. Using plug-and-play controllers, all you need is internet access without reconfiguring complex firewalls and VPNs. Cloud solutions are also subscription based, making the cost of your access control system easier to forecast. 

    Finally, the cloud also offers effortless scalability. This is particularly important if you're a growing business and need to add additional control points to your system, even if they are in different buildings or on completely different sites.

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    Step 4: Unlock Integration Opportunities

    Upgrading the components within your access control system is just the start.

    There are now more ways than ever to integrate your access control with other security systems to increase the overall protection of your building or site. For example, you can pair IP cameras with access points, increasing the security of this area by leveraging the power of CCTV. 

    When someone attempts entry, cameras will record them, allowing security operators to look for the event on their system in the case of a security breach to see who used a control point. CCTV integration can also help detect tailgating, something not possible with outdated legacy access control systems. To learn more, read our article “CCTV & Access Control: Everything you need to know.

    Think about where else you can integrate. Pair your access control with elevator controls to make sure employees and visitors only have access to specific floors in your building. Or, integrate it with your security alarm to trigger when individuals who have been flagged attempt entry.

    There are even more practical applications that go beyond increasing security. Offices and workspaces are evolving thanks to the rapid adoption of smart building systems, cleverly allowing you to manage lights, sound systems and even your heating or cooling. For example, your access control can communicate with your smart building to switch on all the lights when the first person enters the building in the morning. Access control can also link up to third party applications and software such as G Suite, Slack, and Office365 to help with administrative purposes.

    Access Control Verkada

    Step 5: Staying Secure

    Having the most secure technology and systems installed is only part of the equation. Making sure your building staff know how to best operate and manage your access control is vital to the long-term protection of your company and employees. Your staff should aim to run audits on a regular basis, keeping an up to date record of how many credentials have been issued, whether these have expired, and the access privileges of each person to reduce the risk of a security breach.

    You should also be testing the components in your access control system the same way you might test alarms or fire safety systems. 

    Is it Time to Upgrade your Access Control?

    Even if your access control system is only a few years old, you should still be checking regularly to see what new technology is available and how this can benefit your security operations.

    Not only is this essential to keeping your building secure, it also provides integration opportunities that can be useful if managing a commercial premises or facility. The process of upgrading your access control doesn’t have to be expensive or complex either with various solutions available to meet any requirements.

    To quickly recap the 5 steps, the process starts by assessing your current access control system and reviewing areas that are in need of improvement (for example,  you have unreliable controllers that aren’t working, or poor local server coverage). 

    HubSpot Video


    If building security is your priority then making sure your credentials are up to date and properly managed is essential with upgrade options such as biometrics, mobile credentials, and two-factor authentication being available. 

    Plugging into the cloud is another consideration, cutting down the need for local servers and eliminating the cost of server installations and repairs. Integration with other security and building systems can also help, unlocking features such as CCTV video verification and the clever automation of office lighting.

    Finally, always keep in mind that technology is changing. While access control systems are designed to be reliable and secure, you need to make sure that the solutions you are using don’t become outdated by regularly checking for the latest upgrades available.

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    Luke Lewis-Rippington
    I run our sales, technical design and marketing initiatives for the business. I work closely with manufacturers and trade associations to keep abreast with the latest technology and regulations making sure our clients are getting the very best and latest systems available.