Accessing Safety

A robust access control system and supporting technology integrations are key

With the seemingly endless increase in school and workplace shootings and other violent incidents, businesses, organizations, and campuses are taking a hard look at their security systems and the safety measures they have in place now more than ever. Although there are many different approaches that can be taken when it comes to safeguarding a facility, one thing that should not be compromised is having a top-notch security solution in place, and it starts with access control.


The most basic security measure a business or organization can take to elevate security is to observe and control who is entering their facility by implementing an access control system. Access control technology allows operators to electronically monitor ingress and egress to numerous aspects of their site, including exterior doors, classrooms, offices, storage rooms, breakrooms, and any other designated areas. While this technology essentially serves as a first line of defense against several variables, it is equally as important to have an access control system that is feature-rich and able to respond accordingly should an emergency situation arise.

Perhaps one of the most sought-after software features—especially in an educational environment—is the option to remotely lock down an entire facility with the click of a button. In the midst of the chaos of an active shooter situation, for example, lockdown procedures are the quickest and most effective method to protect students and staff from harm and deny further infiltration to the perpetrator.

Another helpful tool is graphic maps, where system operators can easily view and manage multiple facets of their security solution through strategically placed interactive icons. Completely customizable, the graphic maps can link to any third party integrated systems, such as video and intrusion detection, to help track individuals and address alarms and events for increased safety. Users can also view and control doors from the maps, utilize lockdown settings via lockdown icon, and more.

It is also an excellent idea for safety and security personnel to have available a mobile and/or web component of their access control system. These applications serve as an extension of the system, allowing operators to address alarms and events, obtain door status and view associated camera feed, and much more from a remote location. This can cut down on response time should an event, such as a “door forced” or “door held”, occur.

Over the past two decades, Open Options has serviced thousands of customers with these types of features through their open platform access control solution, DNA Fusion. Open Options was among the first to begin working with Mercury Security at a time when open architecture was a new concept in a security industry dominated by proprietary hardware. As a Platinum Elite Partner, the company continues to develop to the Authentic Mercury open hardware platform to ensure DNA Fusion has the most extensive feature set available. Over the years, Open Options has also established numerous unified partnerships and integrations with other industry leading manufacturers and technologies to provide a best-of-breed security solution.


Although access control plays a crucial role in securing a facility, integrating your system with other industry leading products allows for a well-rounded and unified solution. While there are numerous technologies that can be leveraged to maximize security, there are some that are extremely common and can be found at nearly any site that deploys access control.

Exterior and interior cameras, along with a video management system, are a completely necessary tie in to any access control system. With this integrated solution, users can view live video as well as playback recorded video, pull up video clips associated with alarms and events, have PTZ control of cameras, and much more. These features provide full surveillance of a site, thus leading to enhanced security throughout the entire building.

Visitor management systems are key in documenting and capturing data on who is entering the facility, and allows for quick and efficient management of visitors and temporary personnel. Upon visitor registration, the visitor management system communicates with the access control software to activate the access number and enroll the visitor in the cardholder database. The access number gets printed as a barcode on the visitor badge to be read at a card reader, and when the visitor signs out, the access number is deactivated for future use. These systems can also serve as a deterrent to unwanted guests, as the validation process is much more stringent than the old-fashioned pen and paper sign-in sheet method many campuses used to employ.

Implementing additional cutting-edge technologies such as electronic locks, critical communications systems, and intrusion detection with your access control system will drastically increase security throughout the facility, making it a safer environment for all. And, while there is no definitive answer or foolproof method to fully prevent random acts of violence from happening, it is a step in the right direction to have a solid security solution and plan in place.

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Campus Security Today.


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