SJA Exclusive: PACS technology goes pre-emptive

Gate - PACS technology goes pre-emptive

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New sources of data and intelligence transcend physical security, says Karen Evans, President and CEO of Sielox.

Physical access control systems (PACS) have long been considered the cornerstone of security operations, providing organizations with an affordable and effective means of controlling physical access and egress to facilities and various areas within them.

All this remains true today, as PACS have become increasingly more intelligent driven by continued advancements in both hardware and software to deliver users with more features, capabilities, reporting and integration with the latest video and biometrics solutions. As a result, new PACS solutions are increasingly being looked at as a valuable data source, which further increases their value proposition.

Let’s be clear, the primary application of a PACS solution to control access has not changed. However, new PACS software platforms’ abilities to capture tremendous volumes of data and channel it into business intelligence is changing the way that PACS are deployed and used across the enterprise.

Why PACS are trending

User demand for more stringent physical access control and the data generated from these systems, continues to be propelled by new and emerging challenges – many of which are directly related to changes in workforce practices resulting from the global pandemic. Consequently, PACS are now being implemented for a much wider range of applications beyond physical security to include health safety and workforce management, which can be better managed using advanced PACS solutions.

There are very sophisticated software solutions designed specifically to shift the emphasis of PACS from access control to access management, but these solutions are designed for large scale deployments and can be very expensive and time-intensive to implement. This generally precludes small and medium sized organizations with dozens or even thousands of enrolled individuals from leveraging this rich source of data to enhance operations.

Fortunately, there is a solution and chances are, its already at your fingertips.

Pre-emptive PACS

Advanced PACS solutions like Sielox’s x Pinnacle Access Control Platform feature highly sophisticated pre-emptive intelligence – ideal for mainstream applications – that do not warrant, or require third party overlays. PACS solutions with advanced filtering inherently provides most, if not all the data intelligence physical security professionals require to improve security and myriad business operations with extreme accuracy, performance and cost-efficiency.

PACS filters are akin to machine learning patterns employed in expensive access management software, providing users with real-time data on virtually every aspect of controlled access and egress activity, as well as system status. These filters effectively transform traditional reactive access control solutions into pre-emptive, proactive solutions by identifying anomalies, suspicious activities, system failures and other potential threats and issuing alerts in real-time.

In addition to delivering advanced access performance and compliance for physical security and business intelligence applications, the data derived from advanced PACS solutions also enhance overall personal identification and identity management (PIAM) processes – all within the context of the PACS platform. The aggregation and correlation of all this new data effectively adds a logical component to PACS deployments, which presents a rather significant cost-effective enhancement leveraging existing software and hardware.

Logical data automation

Since PACS solutions with advanced pre-emptive filters can be used alone or in any combination, they can be applied to automatically detect, track and analyze a wide range of events caused by any combination of enrolled individuals’ access history and/or the performance of specific access devices. This provides users with a new and powerful management tool to identify and correlate historical events for forensic investigations, as well as the ability to  detect anomalies in access behavior that may lead to potential insider or external threats so pre-emptive action can be taken.

The greater the variety and specialization of filters a PACS provides, the greater the range of data it can secure for different applications. These filters can be generally be grouped into four general categories: Device Management; Alarm and Event Management; Physical Identity Access Management; and Workforce and Risk Management.

Device Management filters allow PACS users to automatically monitor the operational status and performance of all access-related devices. This not only ensures that physical access/egress security protocols are maintained, it also detects and reports anomalous activities related to device performance and access events that may indicate potential threats. Critical device management filters can be further defined into specific sub-categories, including:

  • Access system/device failure detection     
  • Doors events, status and programming       
  • Reader events, status and programming    
  • Controller events, status and programming
  • Inputs and outputs, status and programming       

Each of these filters continuously monitors the performance of specific devices. In addition to ensuring proper system operation, it allows technicians to quickly locate problems so they can be remediated quickly. This is especially important when dealing with remote locations so that technicians can bring the tools and replacement parts required to remediate the problem or perhaps even implement a solution remotely with a simple system device or system reboot. Eliminating unnecessary truck rolls and limiting field service time both present a huge savings on system repairs and maintenance.

PACS Alarm and Event Management filters can help to dramatically reduce costs associated with false alarms. They also help curb operator fatigue and distractions, so security personnel can focus on real events of interest instead of investigating false alarms or even worse, ignoring what they believe to be a false alarm that may actually be a potentially harmful security breach. Alarm and event management filters deliver numerous benefits, during potentially dangerous or threatening events such as an active shooter, fire or environmental hazard or spontaneous weather events like tornadoes and flash floods. Advanced PACS filters can improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of your security operations, including:

  • Emergency access management and lockdowns
  • Mustering to verify the accountability and safety of enrolled members
  • Insider threat detection and risk mitigation based on access attempts, denied access and expired access credentials
  • System tampering and forced entry

These capabilities alone provide an added layer of security and safety and help organizations maintain compliance to internal and local protocols.

Physical Identity Access Management PACS filters help organizations keep track of individuals and their access to facilities and secured areas. Various levels of programming permissions can be set on an individualized basis to maintain tight controls over secure and sensitive areas within a facility. This sub-category of filters include:         

  • Controlled and/or privileged access levels on a location-by-location basis       
  • Detection of expired or altered credentials
  • Occupancy management to maintain specific capacity thresholds
  • Contractor and contingent worker management
  • Pin or reader deactivated or modified by a system admin
  • Badge management (created/deleted/modified…)              

Managing identities across even mid-sized organizations can be a challenging task. These PACS filters help to automate the process which improves security, workforce management and compliance.

PACS Workforce and Risk Management filters have become increasingly important tools for organizations as employees continue to return to work with hybrid and flexible work hours. Keeping track of employees for security, human resources, health safety and compliance reasons continues to challenge organizations of all types and sizes. This subcategory of filters includes:

  • Compliance/audit management and reporting  
  • Occupancy restriction by room or facility
  • Health management and contact tracing
  • Time and attendance documentation       

PACS systems with advanced pre-emptive filtering capabilities undoubtedly propel access control to a higher level of access management, allowing users to leverage new sources of data for a comprehensive range of applications. Additionally, this advanced form of data mining transforms access control from being a reactive to proactive solution with pre-emptive capabilities by identify anomalies, suspicious activities, system failures and other potential threats in real-time.

In addition to delivering advanced access performance and compliance for physical security and business intelligence applications, intelligent PACS solutions with advanced pre-emptive filtering capabilities enhance organizations’ personal identification and management processes – all within the context of their access control platform. Sure sounds like a win-win proposition for a very broad spectrum of users.

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