Leveraging Current Infrastructure for Easier Access Control

For some time, there have been several security trends shaping the industry. One of the most significant is the convergence of IT and physical security.

This is an inevitable shift we’ve seen a lot at ASSA ABLOY; these two functions can no longer operate as independent entities, and the world of physical security is better as a result. In fact, new technologies are allowing us to create advanced door openings that not only provide greater security but are easier than ever to install and maintain. Network-based door opening systems are especially exciting to those in both fields, becauseleveraging a facility’s current connectivity infrastructure is the perfect example of IT and physical security working in tandem for a more cost-efficient, easier, and secure experience.

Let’s take a look at how network-based systems work and compare the two connection options of WiFi or Power over Ethernet (PoE):

What is a Network-Based System?

In a network-based system, all the components required for managing access – including card readers and sensors – are integrated into a lock accessible through the network, instead of being hard-wired individually into an access control panel. Unlike hardwired systems, which tend to be proprietary and need highly-skilled installation, network-based systems work with many vendors and are simple to install. In addition, it’s much easier to size these systems appropriately from the beginning and expand them later as needed. The benefits are clear, but many find themselves asking which option works best for each door:  Ethernet or WiFi?

PoE Enabled Locks: One Network Cable Does It All

Connecting via Power over Ethernet (PoE) is best for mission critical openings, secondary entrance doors, compliance and privacy in record keeping areas, and high value asset areas. It’s incredibly efficient, since it uses a LAN for both power and data and does not need any additional poweror electrical wiring. In fact, PoE uses 86% less energy than a traditional electromagnetic locking system.

It also offers:

  • IEEE 802.3af transmission of data and power
  • The same real-time communication as traditional access control
  • Real-time door status monitoring
  • Configurable alarm notification
  • Local decision making

Unlike WiFi, PoE remains online at all times as a standard Ethernet connected device.

An ASSA ABLOY PoE lockset transmits 5kB - 10kB of data over the course ofa 24-hour period. Since the lockset is connected at all times, information is communicated as updates from either the lock or access control system are available.

WiFi-Enabled Locks: Simple to Install, Update, Configure

Since it does not require any wiring, leveraging an existing WiFi network allows complete access control in any location — including those where it would be difficult or cost-prohibitive to install a wired lock. It’s best suited for areas that are not mission critical but require high security, like classrooms, offices, residence halls, and controlled public spaces. In addition, it uses 99% less energy than a traditional electromagnetic locking system and requires very little installation time. With WiFi, the device is simply installed on the door and configured to communicate with the wireless network.

WiFi also provides:

  • IEEE 802.11b/g/n wireless communication 
  • Scheduled and user-initiated updates to eliminate manual programming
  • Real-time door status monitoring and configurable alarm notification
  • Local decision making
  • Advanced data security with standard wireless encryption techniques

ASSA ABLOY WiFi locks are configurable to connect to the facility’s wireless network as specified by the user. A standard communication session delivers all lockset events since the last communication, while alarms or events of interest are communicated immediately. At each connection, the radio is powered up and the lockset associates with the wireless network. Similar to the POE locks, over the course of 24-hours, these locksets transmit and receive 5kB - 10kB of data to and from the server. When it is not communicating with the server, the wireless radio is powered down and disconnected from the wireless network completely.

WiFi, PoE & IT: Enhancing Physical Security 

Technology is rapidly changing every aspect of our lives, and physical security is no exception. Thankfully, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time a new IT security methodology becomes available — today’s high-tech door openings are designed to work within current systems and with IT and physical security working together. One team cannot make decisions without the other. Whether you decide to leverage your WiFi network, PoE infrastructure or both, upgrading or installing advanced opening systems is as simple as a good partnership.

To learn more about the convergence of IT and physical security, as well as how IP-enabled devices work to enhance security cost-effectively and efficiently, read our eBook: Network Security Redefined: IP-Enabled Access Control

Lisa Corte

Director of Product Management – EAC
Access and Egress Hardware Group
ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions Americas