Nov. 05, 2013

Access Control: The End of Dealing with Legacy Security Systems

  • Access Control: The End of Dealing with Legacy Security SystemsAccess Control: The End of Dealing with Legacy Security Systems

Dealing with legacy systems is a repetitive problem in the security management industry. Meeting the security policy with legacy systems can be tough, maintenance is expensive and integration with other systems is challenging at best; the problems associated with legacy systems are well known.

The Health Care sector is increasingly required to demonstrate best value, and security is often seen as simply a drain on resources, rather than as a way to add value and provide additional services, making the decision to replace legacy systems harder than ever. Ross Bale, a security professional, is explaining the difficulties of dealing with legacy systems and offers a solution for the ever existing legacy problem.

The Problem with Legacy Systems
We frequently talk to both NHS and privately owned Hospitals who have one or more existing access control systems which cannot simply be replaced. Most hospitals in the past have either purchased an access product for a specific area or areas which over time have multiplied into a number of different legacy systems, managed by a variety of different people across the site. This means there is no consistent policy across the hospital and people may require one or more cards or access tokens to gain access to the entire hospital.

Trying to add in other future demands such as lockdown, integration of CCTV and locker management is impossible or inflexible with some legacy systems. In addition to these more technical constraints, budgets often mean that hospital security managers are tied to their existing systems. This is unfortunate as upgrading a legacy system might not resolve all of the problems identified above.

The Benefits of Open Standards
An open platform that enables the integration and management of a wide range of different systems into a single infrastructure enables the hospital to achieve their desires with regard to security without significant capital expenditure. This requires a platform based on open IT standards. With a suitable solution, the security manager is free to choose the "best of breed" components such as Card Readers, Intercoms and CCTV cameras from any manufacturer without having to wait for integration work or software to be developed to support new products as they are released.

Integration Saves Money
Being able to re-use existing cabled infrastructure or card technologies, whilst providing new functionality and features, minimizes disruption and keeps costs down.

In an environment which is already under significant cost limits, by integrating additional security verticals such as CCTV, Intrusion Detection and fire with Access Control, into a single platform, can deliver a return on investment of around 30 percent. This is without sacrificing functionality or performance compared to installing separate, isolated systems.

By seamlessly integrating electronic locker management into the access control platform, it ensures that the maximum number of lockers are available for staff to use. This reduces the number of physical lockers and space required. Eliminating keys also removes the day to day administration typically involved with a conventional locker solution.

Consistent Site-wide Policy
When the security platform provides distributed control, some wards retain the ability to manage security in their area giving the same feel of ownership and control whilst utilising the one central security system. In this way a consistent security policy is maintained whilst people feel they have control of their own area. This is particularly important for highly restricted areas within a typical hospital such as the Pharmacy and High Dependency Units, where access should be greatly restricted and controlled.

Automatic Response
An integrated security platform can respond to situations that occur across any part of the security platform. In this way, it is easy to predefine responses to specific situations such as emergencies or lockdown policies. The security manager can predefine what should happen when a specific situation occurs. This can either be activated manually by a security manager, or the system can automatically react. For example, if the fire alarm system is activated in a specific location, the access control system may react automatically by unlocking certain doors whilst locking other doors to facilitate a controlled evacuation away from the fire.

Always Ready for Future Changes
In conclusion, an integrated security management platform based on open standards saves costs. This is done by bringing everything onto a single server and infrastructure platform. This way you can re-use what's already implemented and reduce server and infrastructure commonly associated with multiple isolated systems.

More importantly, the new system is able to meet the security policy, whilst retaining freedom for different areas within the hospital. In addition, usability is improved through a single intuitive user interface in which all security management tasks can be performed. An integrated security solution as described provides no end of life or restriction as to what can be achieved in the future.

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