Are your assets secure? Has your business or home ever been broken into, or have you had the unpleasant experience of intruders at your workplace or home? While a lock and key used to be the answer, advancements in technology have granted us several alternatives, and automating the control of these systems has brought about a plethora of access control technologies. With the increase in terrorism and the perceived threat of thefts, security has evolved into a hierarchical structure, and access control devices have become the need of the hour.
Monday, November 15, 2010: Access control is a system that enables an authority to control access to areas and resources in a given physical facility or computer based information system. Positioning security guards in front of an office is perhaps a primitive mode of access control, but with the advent of technology and its increasing affordability, the mode of access control has changed, leading to technology driven access control devices.
Demand and growth
Though access control systems (ACS) constitute a small portion of the electronics security industry, with new technologies coming in, followed by their increasing acceptability among the public and private sector, this segment is poised to grow by 30 per cent, yearly. Demand for highly technological access control products is growing steadily—from government organisations, multinational companies, railways, metro stations, airports, malls and institutional areas or offices.
Explains Chiranjeev Singh Bedi, head, sales and services, NCR branch, Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co Ltd, “With growing security threats, preventive measures and security solutions have become imperative. From government offices to malls, theatres and railway stations, you can find these access control devices helping in curbing unauthorised access.” Godrej & Boyce is an Indian manufacturer that has been providing security solutions across the nation for the last 110 years.
A wide range of access control devices are available in the market, however, biometric devices are the latest advancements, requiring person specific information from the individual requesting permission to enter a particular location. The components of a biometric device usually include an input device, a database containing potential matches and a control program to determine the next course of action, based on authentication results. Contactless palm vein readers, fingerprint readers and facial recognition systems make sure you have been authorised to proceed. Biometrics can be used in conjunction with other access control methods for maximum protection. Today, multi-level security is even available combining fingerprint, password and key card authentication.
These devices are in huge demand and their applications are also increasing. Offices and companies have started moving up from manual attendance to automatic systems. However, technologies like iris and face recognition are no more restricted to defence and critical national security establishments but are used by companies as well. “This segment is booming and has a huge potential as we achieved a business turnover of Rs 200-250 billion in the last financial year. Looking at the current trend, the market is moving towards true IP solutions in ACS. And we at Godrej Security Solutions are coming up with new and innovative technology solutions as per market demand. We are poised to introduce enterprise level ACS very soon,’’ says Bedi.
ACS continues to evolve. The older access control devices that used RF cards or numeric keypads, have now been replaced by the transmission control protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP). “The latest trend is to install TCP/IP based devices that are connected to a PC based server. These can be integrated with IT security and maintained from a common point,’’ adds Bedi.
Today, we no longer have to carry cumbersome key bunches. Keys themselves have changed quite a bit since their inception as the premier method of access control. These days, hotels, businesses and even gated communities use key cards instead of metal keys to grant access to visitors, employees and residents. These key cards come in different styles.
Magnetic stripe cards utilise a magnetic stripe that is swiped through a reader to convey the information necessary to grant access into a particular area. This is typically done by having the reader release an electric or magnetic lock that allows the door to be opened, or having the magnetic stripe reader activate an electric gate operator that will open a security gate, granting the person or vehicle, access. These cards allow for more specific programming, creating different levels of access and eliminating the need to worry about collecting keys from ex-employees or residents by giving you the ability to deactivate key cards from a central location.
Wiegand and proximity cards are similar, except that the information is stored inside the card, reducing the card’s susceptibility to wear. These cards are placed next to a reader and the information is transmitted through airwaves. Smart cards, on the other hand, allow extra data such as biometric information or key codes, to be stored on the card itself. These cards don’t even need to be removed from the wallet or purse to activate the reader.
More basic methods of access control include motion sensors, push buttons and switches. Motion sensors get activated when someone walks through a specified area. There are basically three types of sensors used in the motion detection spectrum, namely passive infrared sensors (PIR), ultrasonic and microwave sensors. These sensors send out pulses that measure the reflection of a moving object. Buttons can be used to release a lock or activate a door opening sequence, based on the situation.
Another method of access control is the good old turnstile. Turnstiles are available for either access control or traffic control. Traffic control turnstiles are waist high turnstiles or pedestrian barriers. They restrict access but not necessarily prevent it. They are mostly found at theme parks or mass transit stations. Full height turnstiles, on the other hand, are usually part of a fence or wall and allow access to only one person at a time. Other than these, flap barriers, boom barriers and catrax are user friendly access barriers developed for the fast processing of people, mainly in areas such as railway platforms, passenger terminals, corporate houses, premium hotels, stadiums, etc.
Increasing security concerns is not the only reason for the flourishing growth of this sector. The reasons for biometric devices being most popular are the convenience and comfort they offer. Fingerprint readers have reduced the elaborate, time consuming and costly methods of manually recording attendance. Even government offices are now moving towards biometric time attendance and doing away with paper based attendance.
Another key trend is the movement to TCP/IP based devices, which work directly with an existing infrastructure. “Today, buyers look for complete access control solutions. They want fully functional and completely adaptable software, with simple installation methods that are user friendly,’’ explains Srikanth, Pisapati national sales manager, security products, Matrix Comsec Pvt Ltd. With a production capacity of 1 million ports per annum, Matrix Comsec is one of the leading manufacturers of security products and access control devices.
According to Pisapati, the total size of the access control market in India is around Rs 5 billion. With demand for access control devices increasing in almost every state, the potential in this segment is also growing rapidly in India.
“High quality devices with complete range of features and backed by high quality service are what’s in demand, and this will remain so for a very long time. This segment has the potential to grow by 50 per cent in volume, every year,’’ adds Pisapati.
“Talking about business, there is tremendous business potential for all players in this segment. Also there is ample opportunity for R&D houses that bring out innovative technologies; for manufacturers that launch high quality products; and distributors, dealers and systems integrators who can provide a complete security solution to customers,” explains Amit Jain, regional sales manager, Enterprise Software Solution Labs (eSSL). This company is one of the leading solution providers for access control devices with its headquarters in Bengaluru. As an industrial software laboratory, eSSL focuses closely on innovation and R&D to make sure that its products have a leading edge.
However, though the future of this sector seems bright, there are not many manufacturers of these devices in India. Godrej and Boyce Manufacturing Co Ltd and Matrix ComSec are the only manufacturers in India. Most of the components or core equipment are imported and then integrated locally, as per customer requirements.
Manufacturing requires huge investments in terms of acquiring machinery, space, manpower, resources (raw material) and design capabilities. However, technological advances have been seen more in software based solutions than in hardware. “There are too many hassles involved in manufacturing, right from acquiring space to managing manpower and raw materials,’’ explains Pisapati. Players, therefore, prefer to import the devices and integrate them into complete solutions.
As this sector seems to be flourishing, maybe in the coming years, we will witness these devices being completely manufactured in India.
Key factors that are driving growth in this sector
- High investment in PCs and IT assets by firms across the country
- Increasing penetration of broadband and Internet
- Tremendous growth of the Indian economy
- Widespread awareness of the benefits of such devices
Source: Matrix Comsec Pvt Ltd
Application Areas of Access Control Devices
|Small offices/home offices||• Protection of office• Securing goods in a retail store• Safeguarding assets in a jewellery showroom
• Marking employee attendance in a restaurant, clinic,
Small and medium businesses
|• Library and laboratory access in colleges• Securing warehouses and godowns• Tracking employee movement in auto showrooms
• Fitness centres
Small and medium enterprises
|• Restricting movement in malls• Hotels• Clubs and resorts
• Call centres, IT firms
|• Protecting government offices• Colleges and universities• Hospitals
• Software industry
Source:Matrix Comsec Pvt Ltd
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