Redefining Access Control

Mar 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Larry Anderson

Our exclusive survey ponders the changing role of access control as the security industry converges and transforms.

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“It isn't just a box that opens doors,” adds Rick Fournier, COO, Galaxy Control Systems. “It can be extremely flexible and used as the central database and control center for a number of additional security and administrative functions.”

Making sure the system matches the application is another important issue. “I believe the access control industry needs to learn that their products must meet the actual needs of the end-users rather than the perceived needs,” says Gordon B. Longton, security consultant, James L. Johnson Associates Inc. “In too many instances, the providers feel they have ‘the’ system and are unwilling or reluctant to listen to their customers.”

One should also remember that security extends beyond the technology system: “Policy is part of the system and needs to be stressed more often,” says Chuck Hutcheson, systems manager, DeKalb Board of Education.

Affordability of the systems is another issue, although some respondents suggest the systems are becoming less expensive. But Monk of disagrees: “The biggest shock to our clients is the cost of quality products. There are many — I would say 50 percent or so — that think that access control can be done for cheap or little investment. The price is the price is the price. Cutting corners on access control equipment is not good in the long run.”

He adds: “[Something suppliers] need to learn is to make the systems affordable. They would sell more systems and likely make more money in the long run.”

And remember “that all systems are not created equal,” Williams of Brivo reminds us.


Our survey was designed to be non-scientific and informal, geared toward encouraging respondents to provide us commentary for this article. The survey reached out to our readers using our Web site,, and our e-mail newsletter, Security Beat. Readers were directed to a link to the survey added to the Web site on Sept. 21, 2007. We reached out to supplier companies by distributing hard copies of our survey at the ASIS show last fall, and with an e-mail message to our list of supplier companies on Jan. 8, 2008, with an invitation to participate. We also distributed a link to our survey to members of two dealer/integrator organizations — SecurityNet and PSA Security Network.

How Important?

We asked respondents to rate (on a 1 to 5 scale) the importance of access control related to topics such as “overall security,” “security's higher profile,” “converged systems,” “digital video” and “regulatory compliance.” The chart shows the results.

Interestingly, there appears to be a disconnect between how suppliers answer the questions and how users answer, especially regarding the role of access control as it relates to regulatory compliance and security's higher profile.

More end-users rate the importance of access control to “regulatory compliance” as “extremely important” (62.5 percent), versus fewer for suppliers (34.6 percent).

Conversely, more supplier companies rate access control's role related to “security's higher profile” as “extremely important” (69.2 percent) versus only 45.8 percent of users.

Also, more suppliers (65.4 percent) rate as “extremely important” the role of access control related to “converged systems;” only 41.7 percent of users answer “extremely important.”

Suppliers may want to consider the results carefully related to what benefits of their products they choose to emphasize to end-users.

The chart summarizes ratings of access control's contributions to “promote overall security” and to “promote the overall business goals of a company or institution.” The most common response among all three groups is a rating of 4 on a 5-point scale, with 5 being “extremely well.”

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© 2015 Penton Media Inc.

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