By Ross Wilks, Head of Marketing Communications, Vanderbilt and ComNet
Facilities managers are up against a number of challenges in the current landscape: contact tracing, streamlined visitor management, event scheduling, HVAC updates, and much more. Connectivity between devices has never been more important (or more critical) to the overall management of today’s modern enterprises and the facilities they inhabit. And the growth of more intelligent sensors used in these locations make connectivity all that more crucial to the success of today’s facilities managers.
As data continually is collected, organisations are tasked with identifying the best ways to use that information to their advantage. For today’s forward-thinking facilities, this can be achieved through the implementation of data sharing and integration between systems that control access to a building or specific area in an effort to connect occupant management software with access control to achieve a number of benefits, including:
Event Management. Easily integrating access control with events happening is a function that facilities manager didn’t know they needed until it became widely available. The ability to schedule use of a specific area within a building — like a conference room — or even outside a facility — like a tennis court — can mean freeing up a significant amount of resources and time for facilities managers who now no longer need to physically unlock a facility to accommodate access. Intelligent access control, integrated with an organisation’s event management system, brings ease of management to facility managers.
Lighting Control. Software integration between access control platforms and smart lighting technology can help make this a reality, signalling when someone has entered the facility and triggering a response to turn lighting on in a specific location. The addition of “smart” devices (think Google Home or Amazon Alexa, but for large facilities) have propelled a significant shift toward streamlining control of a facility’s lighting. The implications for energy savings with intelligent lighting is incredible, as access control platforms integrated with lighting systems can identify when the last person within a facility leaves and signify to the system that it’s OK to turn off all the lights.
Heating/Cooling Management. Heating and cooling can be a significant expense, which means measures that can address usage based on need are getting a lot of interest. Using access control software to communicate occupancy levels to controls for heating and cooling works by providing information about who is still present within a facility at any given time. When the first person to come in for the day swipes their card, that information from the access management software can trigger an automatic update for the HVAC system to turn the system on for the day and vice versa at night when the last person leaves the building. Going even further, software integration can also be customised to the point of controlling the temperature based on someone’s preferences within a specific office space, which may seem futuristic, but holds the promise of future customisation options.
Building Occupancy. The benefit of using access control to determine building occupancy and usage if that facility managers can gather critical information about the areas of a facility that are being used on a daily basis to determine whether space can be allocated differently. Integrating access control software into event management software for reserving rooms can glean valuable data for which rooms are used the most (and by whom), how long they are used and how many people are utilising the space. When a space isn’t being used (based on the level of access), facility managers can work with management to determine whether there are other uses that can be determined to better serve employees, which can be invaluable in organisations that are looking to save money or need additional space.
Human Resources Records. When an HR department is tasked with the management of employee information from a payroll standpoint, there’s software for that. What makes this software really stand out is when it can be integrated with access control software to streamline onboarding of an employee. For example, with the click of a button, a badge can be activated to provide access to a facility, and in a healthcare setting, where levels of access are used, HR managers can also easily control who has access to various parts of a building. The benefits of this functionality for facilities managers is the ability to streamline the addition of new employees, while also shutting down access immediately in the event of a negative parting with an employee.
Strengthened Security. At the end of the day, the goal of integration of access control software with other software being used across an organisation is security of not only assets, but the people within the organisation. The ability to gather information about visitors, building occupancy and who is present on any given workday can provide valuable information to security leaders in the event of an incident, funnelling critical information with the push of a button. Access control software has the ability to deploy lockdown functionality in an emergency while building occupancy software can pinpoint where people are so they can be evacuated safely. All of this technology combined seeks to offer today’s organisations the peace of mind they need to ensure the safety of all occupants.
For facility managers, finding a partner — whether it’s an integrator, manufacturer or consultant — who understands the challenges of your business is critical to the success of your security technology beyond simply protecting a facility. An important step in analysing a technology investment is understanding a company’s pain points and the other systems that are available to integrate into an overall solution.
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