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Selecting electronic access control systems

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  • Selecting electronic access control systems

    Question here for those who are specifying, purchasing or installing electronic access control systems:

    What are the top things you look at when comparing access control platforms from the sundy vendors?

    Is it compatibility with legacy systems? Cost per user? Ease of navigation and training on the software side? Time to install? Vendor name recognition? Ability to integrate with surveillance, intrusion and/or HR systems? Previous experience with the vendor? Facility-map interfaces? Etc.?

    I'm wondering how you would rank your deciding factors. No right or wrong answers...just trying to pinpoint what matters most to you.


    Geoff

  • #2
    As a specifier I strive for the following:
    1. A system that integrates completely (software, IP) with other subsystems such as CCTV, Communication.
    2. A well designed GUI.
    3. Software that is powerful but relatively easy to use.
    "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." G. Orwell

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    • #3
      I agree, John, particularly with respect to your second and third criteria.

      I know that it's considered heresy these days, but I admit to concerns about integration, or at least about what seems to have become an almost religious fervor in some of the discussions that I read in the trade press on this subject. It's very hard to find anyone these days who will admit to having reservations about integration.

      Of course, "integration" means different things to different people. I've no particular problem with integration at the lower levels of the network model. We obviously want to maximize the use of legacy wiring and other elements of the infrastructure.

      My concerns are these:
      1. Creating unrecognized single points of failure (somewhat related to item #4 below).

      2. Constraints on the ability to select the best product for each element of the system, whether "best" is defined in terms of capabilities, cost or both. Tradeoffs that really should not be made. Added costs with no real ROI.

      3. "Too many cooks in the kitchen" - i.e., the proliferation of stakeholders, who bring with them specifications which may be competing, or that are of little or no relevance to the security system itself. This also complicates project management with questionable advantage.

      4. Unanticipated and unwanted system/system, system/human and system/environment interactions that no amount of testing will uncover in advance (a well-known phenomenon of system design).

      5. Weakened security of the security system itself, and of the systems that interface with it (having had a bad experience with this.)

      6. Organizational turf and management issues.

      Don't misunderstand - I fully understand the attraction of integration - or perhaps I should say the attraction of the dream. However, my concerns increase as "integration" extends horizontally and vertically throughout the network, the information system and the organization.
      Last edited by SecTrainer; 03-17-2007, 09:32 AM.
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      • #4
        SecTrainer,
        I agree with you wholeheartedly. As a systems and security integrator, with 16 years experience plus another 10 in other electonics, I know first hand what you mean.

        The choice for access control may not make a very good video system, or have a long background in it, and same for the choice in video. And alarm systems may be an afterthought.

        Many of the companies in one area of expertise will partner with one in another area of expertise to offer an integrated system. I have seen numerous times where they tout there products, have lots of problems, and then part ways. And the end users are stuck with limited or no support, and the integrators are left with egg on there face, and possible lost business and reputation.

        I like to integrate these systems the "old fashioned" way, with inputs and outputs between them. Yes it takes a bit more time and thought, but it's generally going to last.
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