April 2009


On the plane back from ISC West this year, I was reflecting on a few interesting booth traffic conversations. From the cards and card reader perspective, it is clear there remain two camps of dealers on the technological front:

1). Those who prefer to stay in the traditional comfort zone of 125 kHz proximity cards and only rarely install contactless smartcard and

2). Those embracing the enhanced security and flexibility of the 13.56 MHz contactless smart cards

As with other industries going through significant changes, there are always leaders and all others. It is the responsibility of companies like RF IDeas to help promote progress in the industry as we all benefit. End user benefits include increased functionality and security by leveraging the building security investment to additional applications such as computer logon; point-of-sale and vending; time & attendance; visitor/member management as well as other forms of digital identification throughout the workplace.

How can we help those dealers who are not comfortable with the smartcard approach? We provide an array of choices. For dealers with less confidence in their IT technical ability, we offer our plug-n-play, no software solutions, such as AIR ID Playback. This solution integrates into existing applications and operating systems. Contactless smartcard technology is complex but the implementation of using available memory in the cards can be quite simple.

For those dealers looking to grow and expand with more IT savvy personnel, we offer our very low cost pcProx and AIR ID 82 Series line that tightly integrate with thousands of applications. We advise and refer to appropriate 3rd party vendors with the results being a broader line of solutions and opportunities for the dealer.

I am encouraged by the adoption rate of the enhanced technology cards and readers but feel there is a big hill to climb here. The more we help others in our industry through advice, training and products, the better we service and create opportunities for our customers and dealers.

As Director of Business Development for Automated Management Technologies (AMT), I get calls from some very forward-thinking people within the security industry as well some outsiders.

What is different about these people is that they do not want to buy an entire system, and our industry for the most part, is accustomed to selling and installing complete systems. A few examples: A designer working on two large government projects explained he did not need and did not want another database installed, anywhere. Central stations are asking for the alarms from the access control system to be displayed on their existing consoles and maybe some card management functions, but really don’t care about the bulk of what else the access system does. Another individual wanted to provision our software with information from Active Directory but went on to say he did not want that information stored anywhere in our software.

By contrast, the current security industry offerings are made up of a variety of “systems”. CCTV systems, access control systems, intrusion detection systems and so on. Integration is a constant (and tired) topic involved with getting these systems to work with each other. To that end, these callers are exploring the idea of removing any parts that make the individual systems individual. After all, those are the parts that seem to be getting in the way.

Here is how these people view our world:

Devices such as card readers, cameras, motion detectors, door contacts, etc. are nothing more than sensors. These devices produce data. Devices such as card readers or motion detectors are not thought of as belonging to a particular system, but rather just a bunch of sensors connected to a data center.

Leveraging the intelligence of devices installed at the edge, such as the HID Edge Reader or IP cameras with on board analytics, the goal is to let the devices do their job, and let the data that is owned by the business (not the security system) be applied to any function for the greater good of the business. The efficiency comes from all components sharing their data and no duplication of data in the organization. The data storage and user interface screens of the individual security systems are redundant and unnecessary.

The selling of “systems” as we know them will not go away anytime soon. But the isolated, autonomous role they once played continues to change toward a more open, multipurpose, and less dedicated environment. The goal is to create software components that can live in both a system and non-system world.


Finally some simple answers to some simple questions! Why can’t we use the same card to log on to our computers as we use to get into the building?

Why is it that the alternatives for logical access are limited to either:
1.) The costly administration and security risks associated with using passwords &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp or
2.) Expensive tokens and complex systems associated with PKI-centric, high assurance authentication?

The short answers are you can and they’re not.

At ISC West, HID answered a resounding “yes” to the question of using the same card for physical and logical access control with the announcement of the HID on the Desktop alternative to the prohibitively expensive alternatives for logical access control available today.

HID’s president and CEO Denis Hébert, presented a Strategy Briefing outlining the dynamics of our industry that are driving the convergence of physical and logical access control and how HID has responded with HID on the Desktop, a convenient and secure solution that allows users to implement existing physical access control cards to enable logical access control.

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The presentation was followed by a discussion of market trends, customer requirements, and barriers to adoption relating to logical access control and the implementation of two factor authentication by a panel of industry experts. As senior level representatives from Dell, Lenel, Tx Systems, Convergint Technologies provided their perspectives on questions posed by the HID Global moderator, three themes emerged from these diverse organizations. The market is definitely in need of an economical, convenient to use, risk appropriate logical access control solution. Customers need help understanding the overall business case and TCO for adopting this solution (as Tony Varco from Convergint pointed out), rather than dwelling on the thought of how it adopts to IT access security measures. The key to adaptation is education to the integration channel.

Knowledge of the implications of convergence and risk appropriate authentication in today's security landscape is of vital importance to security integrators, developers, consultants, and users.

It was gratifying to extend this knowledge in conjunction with our strategy briefing at ISC West with the addition of industry expert perspectives. Dan DeBlasio Director of Business Development for HID Global moderating a panel comprised of Craig Durr, Senior Marketing Consultant from Dell, Tony Varco, Vice President of Security at Convergint Technologies, Jason Wimp, President of Tx Systems, Mike Regelski, CTO of the Global Security Products Group of UTC Fire and Security, and Tony Ball, Senior Vice President of Identity and Access Management at HID Global.

Listen to the Industry Expert Panel Podcast. Click on the arrow below to hear the discussion:[audio:http://www.hidglobal.com/media/ISC_West_Internal_QA.mp3]