6 Electronic Access Control Trends to Watch

Wireless locks, touchless solutions, and cross platform integrations are just some of the access control trends we’re currenting seeing in physical security.

6 Electronic Access Control Trends to Watch

Photo via Adobe, by REDPIXEL

Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in our sister publication Security Sales & Integration and has been edited. Although it’s written from a systems integrator perspective, higher education, K-12, and healthcare protection professionals will find it applies to their access control systems them as well.

As we all wait for a post-pandemic “new normal” to solidify in due course, campuses must continue to nimbly maneuver and strategize to meet ever-shifting security needs. This frenetic pace of change across the security industry can seem dizzying, no more so than with electronic access control systems (EACS).

Pull back the lens though, and some specific areas of interest come into focus amid the noise and uncertainty. By example, let’s zero in on six particular areas of EACS interest.

1) Changes to the traditional electronic access control model for door hardware beyond the typical deployment of either an electric strike or magnetic lock.  

There are numerous wireless and WiFi options that are now being deployed. Panic-style door hardware and electric strikes have long been utilized, reserving maglocks for use on glass doors where there is no other option.

We have been deploying quite a few integrated locks; more so in panic-style door hardware configurations.

These are typically PoE (Power Over Ethernet)-powered devices that include the reader, request-to-exit sensor and door position sensor as integral elements of the panic-style locking hardware. In this configuration, you simply run a Cat6 cable through the hinge to the lock and you are done.

2) Increasing use of wireless locks, including for traditional physical access control system (PACS) deployments.  

Market demand here is very evident. Typically, in multifamily/residential type applications to include dorm rooms and independent living facilities where there are customarily one-card credential solutions involved.

3) Rise in wireless lock deployments in the education market.  

Wireless locks are being used almost as a standard in higher education. This is especially the case within dorm rooms where residents’ school ID is also the credential that gets them into their dorm room.  

Anywhere a one-card credential solution is deployed, some of these solutions can be data-on-card where the credential information is updated in the lock via the card. The card is updated daily via an updater device typically installed at the entrances or common areas within the building or facility. 

4) “Touchless everything” spawned by COVID remains front and center.  

This hygiene phenomenon facilitated by technology still persists. In a typical new construction building cycle the design is done two to three years prior to the actual construction. We have experienced some retrofit application of touchless technologies.

Most of our experience has been with healthcare facilities and hospitals, along with independent/senior living environments where controlling the transmission of viruses and germs is paramount to employees and residents.

The industry can expect to begin seeing this as a design standard, especially in public areas due to transmission concerns. There is always the convenience element as well. Ultimately, technology will drive adoption.

As things become more cost effective, and devices are designed with aesthetics in mind, they will become a standard within the design process and more widely utilized in every new or renovated space or building.

5) Locksmith trends that may soon be relevant to an integration business.  

The widespread use of IoT devices in peoples’ homes will flow into the office/business environment if it hasn’t already. Convenience and utilization of technology is becoming mainstay. This trend will continue until EACS become omnipresent everywhere you turn.

6) Clients desire cross-platform, door-opening integrations not currently available from traditional sources.  

The biggest example of this is WiFi locks, not to be confused with wireless locks. WiFi locks leverage a building WiFi network infrastructure so there is no need for a wireless hub — which is connected to the hardwired or wireless network infrastructure — which wireless locks report to in order to connect to the ACS software/head end. There are a limited number of WiFi locks on the market that integrate with ACS software via the network infrastructure already in place.

Artificial intelligence (AI) should be mentioned here as well as related to automated/touchless opening of doors. This is really coming along and will probably be mainstream within the next couple of years (although some folks will say it is already here).

Ultimately, anything that makes automated/touchless access more convenient, cost effective and leverages existing or planned infrastructure without sacrificing cyber and physical security is desirable.

Michael Ruddo is Chief Strategy Officer of Integrated Security Technologies.

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