How to Avoid Mistakes With Access Control

  April 3, 2013

Although the tight economy of the past few years continues to prompt many building owners and managers to take a careful look at planned investments, one area that appears ripe for growth is the access control market. After all, most building occupants want to know they're secure. Research by Markets and Markets shows the global market for electronic access control systems growing by 7 percent between 2012 and 2017, reaching $16.3 billion by 2017.

Facility managers charged with implementing a new access control system will want to do all they can to avoid mistakes. Of course, that's true of any implementation. However, mistakes can be particularly troubling with access control systems because they're so visible, says Patrick Wood, principal and senior consultant with Security Options and Solutions. "With access control, people touch it every day; they use their cards to get in." The implemented system needs to secure the building, yet still allow occupants to move about as needed.

Outside expertise may also be needed to provide input to the design and installation of the access control system. Bringing in an expert typically does carry a cost. However, trying to get by without such input can backfire, as potential stumbling blocks often aren't caught until later in the process. At that point, any flaws become more expensive to correct. Not only that, the mistakes and their correction — say, prohibiting occupants from using a particular entrance because it's not properly secured — often become more visible than a facility manager or owner might want.

Once buildings top about 1 million square feet, the number of entrances and the complexity of their security systems often means that bringing in a security consultant will pay off in problems avoided, says Ken George, president of Caprock Consulting Group. That's because his or her design plans should show exactly which systems and components are to be installed, and where they'll go. The plans should include a standard format that the contractors bidding on the project are required to follow, as this will make it easier for the facility owner to compare one bid to another. "You get back bids that are level," he says. "You can select not just the lowest bid, but the best bid."

Moreover, most facility managers' ongoing responsibilities make it difficult for them to provide adequate oversight during the design, installation and testing phases. In contrast, a consultant should be able to monitor the project on an ongoing basis, and then compare the final system to the plan. "A consultant is a knowledgeable body when the facility manager doesn't have the knowledge, or the time," says Harold Gillens, president of Quintech Security Consultants.


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