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In The Boardroom With...

Mr. Martin Huddart
Vice President, Electronic Access Control
ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions
Stockholm: ASSAB.ST One will read on that, “ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions provides complete solutions for securing buildings and keeping people safe.” Please give us an overview of ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions.

Martin Huddart: ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions is a division of ASSA ABLOY. Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, ASSA ABLOY is comprised of over 150 companies in more than 40 countries, all part of the door security industry. ASSA ABLOY's mission is to provide complete opening solutions, backed by value-added services, to help people feel safer and more secure, thus creating more freedom in their lives.

ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions offers everything needed to secure openings and keep people safe. Our complete solutions include doors, hardware and electronic access control systems, plus many options to fit the aesthetics of any building. We have a complete network of sales professionals, consultants and distributors who provide support and expertise throughout a project. Our field representatives can offer assistance with most doorway-related challenges including security evaluations, product selection, specification writing, installation, key systems management and other value added services.  The convergence of physical security solutions and network security solutions is a major trend in the security industry today. We seem to be seeing a new era of locking devices in the marketplace and a shift from mechanical locks to electronic locks which can communicate directly to a network. In this regard, ASSA ABLOY recently introduced Hi-O (Highly Intelligent Opening) technology to the market.  How do you see the market changing from a technological perspective?

Martin Huddart: We see four large and concurrent forces converging together in the security market to create large changes in the way we manage and offer security solutions.

    Credential Convergence:
    The desire of end users to manage access control with a single credential has created the opportunity for ‘credential convergence’ that bridges mechanical and electromechanical technologies.  For example, MEDECO’s Hybrid key incorporates mechanical and RFID technologies such that a single credential can be used in a mechanical cylinder, with a typical HID reader, and the new MEDECO Hybrid eCylinder.  This is an offline, battery powered access control system that wirelessly retrofits to a standard mechanical cylinder.  The result is a suite of mechanical, offline and online openings managed from a single credential.

    Network Convergence:
    End users are increasingly demanding the greater use of plug-and-play technologies based on open standards that make installation easier.  This is true for other IT appliances and the opening is becoming just another appliance on the network.

    New locks are being launched which drastically lower the cost of near online or online access control by leveraging the existing IP network infrastructure in the building.  This ‘network convergence’ eliminates the need for expensive redundant security system wiring.  It also spreads intelligence and decision making abilities to the edge of the network allowing more system redundancy than in the past.

    Component Convergence:
    One of the quieter technology trends making life easier for the integrator is ‘component convergence’ that blends two technologies or more into one device.  These innovative locking products typically integrate a card reader, locking device and other door functions into one component.  

    For example, a lock or a strike with an integrated card reader, REX and DPS not only can have a more appealing look to the end user, but the integrator or locksmith saves time and money with less wiring, drilling and cutting around the door.  Many of these new integrated products also come with standard wiring and connections that are designed to plug-and-play with electrified hinges and door raceways.

    Information Convergence:
    The final trend, ‘information convergence,’ is blazing a path to a truly highly intelligent opening.  These openings operate beyond the conventional boundaries of ‘access control’, providing economic benefits throughout the life cycle of the opening.  We understand that ASSA ABLOY has launched a technology called Hi-O.  What is a Highly Intelligent Opening?

Martin Huddart: Today’s opening components are dumb, analog devices.  They have lots of discreet wires. They all work differently. They can require complex configuration and don’t tell you if they are about to fail.

Think of Hi-O as USB technology for doors.  When you plug components together around the opening, they digitally communicate with each other and automatically configure themselves to the needs of that specific opening.  It’s a similar process to plugging your digital camera into your PC – there’s a lot going on behind the scenes to make life easy.  All Hi-O devices have the same 4 wire connection: two wires for power and two for data communication no matter how complex or simple the device.  Troubleshooting the wiring of online openings is often a major issue for integrators.  With Hi-O this can almost be eliminated.

The security director can appreciate the security benefits of Hi-O  The encrypted local network around the opening raises the bar for security as you cannot simply apply power to a solenoid or electro-magnet to activate them any more.

Hi-O openings offer the industry’s first ‘engine warning light’ for the opening.  Hi-O components keep track of how many cycles they have operated as well as other important diagnostic information.  This enables end users or service providers to predict when openings may fail and lower total costs of opening ownership. ASSA ABLOY talks a lot about ‘open architecture’ solutions.  What does this mean and how does it tie into your long term product roadmap?

Martin Huddart: Our new product development process takes multiple stakeholders into account.  These include the end user, the integrator and the access control systems manufacturer.  Our products need to be strong, durable, easy-to-use, easy to install, based on nonproprietary technologies, backed by expert support and offered as part of a complete doorway system.

Our ‘Open Architecture’ philosophy means that most of our locks and hardware devices are designed to work with any software platform, whereas other equipment providers might require the end-user to purchase a separate proprietary software package that works exclusively with their locks.

This philosophy applies to our wireless online access control products: some manufacturers necessitate the end-user to purchase a proprietary wireless infrastructure. ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions wireless products are based on standard 802.11b/g technology and work with any off-the-shelf router. And again, our wireless locks will integrate with most existing software platforms.  You mention that some of your components drive intelligence to the ‘edge of the network’.  What does that mean?

Martin Huddart: For years, traditional access control systems have consisted of a PC connected to a controller. Individual doors are then wired to a controller located above the ceiling or in a closet.  These controllers may control up to 32 doors or more.  The issue with this architecture is that any problem with the controller or the wiring from that controller can take down many openings.  As the cost of controller technology has come down, we have seen a trend in the market towards individual controllers at each opening. 

The next logical step now unfolding is to bring the controller directly to the doorway by embedding intelligence and decision making capabilities directly into the hardware.  Thus a single device on the door is the controller, the card reader, the lock and all the other sensors required for access control.  The lock connects to the network either through standard Cat 5 wiring and Ethernet, or a WiFi 802.11 connection. This setup reuses existing IP infrastructure and reduces the need for additional wiring.   These IP enabled lock controllers take access control to the ‘Edge’. What are your target markets and what is your perspective on the market drivers for ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions at this time?

Martin Huddart: Our core markets are education, healthcare, military/government, retail and hospitality. A developing driver in all markets is a growing movement to bring intelligence closer to the edge of the network, all the way down to the hardware components. Some facilities need a mix of access control technologies; hospitals are a great example. Each application within a hospital-maternity wards, patient rooms, psychiatric wards, business offices, surgical suites, storage rooms-has distinct door hardware needs that must integrate together to form a comprehensive, yet easily manageable security system. Our diverse product mix allows us to answer these challenges, whether it's a maglock on a ward entrance, a delayed-egress exit device in a maternity ward or an electronic or eCylinder that enables audit trail capabilities on a drug cart. We bring all these hardware devices together to form a completely integrated system. We understand that the Education market in one of your most important target markets. Can you kindly provide our readers with an overview of one or two success stories in this space?

Martin Huddart: Stonington High School in Stonington, CT is a great example of a facility that upgraded its security by implementing access control at strategic doorways throughout the facility. The school system used electromechanical hardware to funnel students through the main entrance which automatically locks once class starts. All visitors or late-arriving students must be granted access by office staff. A security camera allows office personnel to identify the person and a push of the button activates an electric strike to unlock the door.

The entrance doors are also equipped with proximity card readers that are tied into the locking hardware. All teachers and staff members carry prox ID cards that enable them to gain entrance by touching their cards against the readers. Loading dock entrances at the rear of the building are also outfitted with electric strikes. Delivery drivers seeking access must push a button to alert the office staff of their presence at the loading dock.

The prox reader system used at the high school features the same HID technology used in Stonington Police ID badges. The police IDs allow officers immediate access into theschool.

To help curb vandalism, every student is required to carry a prox card ID badge that only allows access to the lavatories and library. Lavatory doors are secured with SARGENT Profile Series v.G1 stand-alone access control devices with built-in prox readers. These battery powered locks also have an audit trail capability that records who entered the room and at what time. If an incident occurs, school officials can interrogate the lock and determine the transaction history.

In the higher education segment, Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT offers an example of a school that decided to transition from a locking system that relied on mechanical keys to a SARGENT Powered by PERSONA lockset that operates off the school’s existing campus card system.

Quinnipiac students now have the convenience of a single card to complete many common campus transactions and also to enter residence halls and other campus buildings. The locksets integrate with existing facility management and residential life software system, allowing the school to automatically define access control privileges when cards are issued.

From an administrative standpoint the school is able to eliminate mechanical keying issues and simplify the enrollment process. The lock’s programming flexibility allows the residential life staff to close residence halls during breaks with pre-defined holidays. Additionally, the audit trail capabilities improve security by enabling the locks to be interrogated for transaction history, including if a door was propped open.

Quinnipiac has begun installing WiFi versions of the locksets that operate off the existing 802.11b/g campus wireless network. The new locks will allow the school to expand the card-based access system outside the traditional residence hall areas of check-in, holiday periods, and check-out.  The Healthcare market also presents unique challenges with a mixture of open and restricted access areas, requiring multiple levels of security and access control. Any “wins” in this space you’d like to talk about?

Martin Huddart: Hanover Hospital in Hanover, PA faced the challenge of finding access control hardware that would operate off its existing security software platform. The hospital was undergoing a large expansion project and wanted the new doorways to integrate seamlessly with the security system already in place. The SARGENT Profile Series v.N1 integrated Wiegand lockset offered the perfect solution.

The open architecture features of the v.N1 functioned flawlessly with the hospital’s software platform, enabling Hanover to expand their access control system with a simple panel interface board. The v.N1 incorporates reader, lock and door status switch in one device, allowing security personnel to monitor the status of the doors from a centralized computer. The built-in proximity reader works with the existing ID badges and also features a keypad that gives the hospital the option of dual credentialing, which is used on sensitive areas such as the pharmacy. Let’s turn to the Government space for a moment. We read with great interest in your Government Solutions brochure,, that, “We’re always exploring ways to provide smarter, more convenient access and egress control solutions that combine security with safety and accessibility”. Are there one or two “wins” in this space you’d like to talk about?

Martin Huddart: Government projects can encompass anything from a hospital to a court house. All have different challenges. Military bases, for example, are large and diverse. They are actually small towns and feature a mix of end-user applications such as private residential housing, group housing (barracks), offices, healthcare facilities, credit unions, retail establishments, bowling alleys.

This diversity of applications requires the ability to offer a multitude of door opening solutions that can function together and provide a cohesive security system. Barracks on a military base, for example, function like a college residence hall and are an ideal fit for campus card locking systems. Similarly, a military hospital has the same needs as a regular civilian hospital. Since all these applications are located on the same base, it makes sense from a security management viewpoint to have them all tie together. This is something ASSA ABLOY is able to do with its comprehensive mix of mechanical and electromechanical door and hardware products. Please tell us about your integrator/installer network. Are there some key strategic relationships you'd like to talk about?

Martin Huddart: ASSA ABLOY partners closely with integrators and has established a Certified Integrator program that provides intensive, hands-on training for security systems integrators and network administrators. Our training focuses heavily on real-world scenarios and exercises to ensure a thorough understanding of the features, applications and model structure of various products. We also provide training on how to conduct proper site surveys, system design and integration as well as trouble shooting exercises. The certification program supports the integrator community by enabling them to become experts in our growing line of intelligent access control products.  More and more customers, in both the public and private sectors, are facing an explosion of new access control technology offerings, and need more than just the hardware. They also need the consulting and services expertise to guide them throughout all phases of a project, from security evaluation through installation. What are ASSA ABLOY’s capabilities in this area?

Martin Huddart: ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions has many different types of consultant to help with different aspects of your security needs.

We typically dedicate our end user sales consultants to a specific market like K-12, Higher Education or Healthcare.  This allows them to be subject matter experts in the specific security challenges of customer base.  An ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions Healthcare Specialist, for example, understands the concerns hospitals have with regard to audits by the Joint Commission and are able to help facilities solve doorway-related issues that could arise during inspection

If you need help with Electronic Access Control system design, our PSP-certified Integrated Solutions Specialists can offer advice to the ‘C’ level decision makers.  Also, our Electro-Mechanical Specialists are highly trained in all aspects of electronic locking devices and work with our network of certified integrators and authorized channel partners.

Many of our field representatives are also experts in key systems and routinely help facilities plan and implement master key systems and key control strategies.  

We can offer the most advanced technologies imaginable to the industry, but it means nothing if there aren’t great people out there to explain it and support it.  Between our sales force and our channel partners, we are fortunate to have an incredible team in the field that has the training and experience to solve any security problem you can throw at them.