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IP Door Access Control Systems

If you’re still not using an IP based access control system at work, your office might be lagging several years behind the modern world. Don’t tell us you’re still using Wiegand keycards, PBX telephones, and P2P intercoms too! These technologies have become relics of the past since IP based systems took over the workplace. 

In this article:

What is IP Door Access Control?

IP door access control, sometimes also called web-based access control or online access control, is a system that uses the IP (Internet Protocols) technology for data communication between the door reader, the access control panel, and the access control software. Introduced in 1995, when it was called TCP/IP, IP has become the universal standard of digital communication today.

A typical IP access controller connects directly to LAN/WAN and can support 2 or 4 access control readers. It may have an on-board web server that supports remote configuration through online or PC based software. Cloud-based IP access control systems can scale to a potentially unlimited number of readers and can be accessed and managed from anywhere.

2 Types of IP Door Access Control 

The IP door access control systems available on the market can be broadly divided into two categories:

On-Site Systems: The access control software is installed on a PC placed in the server room or another room in the building. Examples include Genetec and Brivo, which started out as on-premise solutions but switched to IP based communication to provide off-site management features to their users.

Cloud-Based Systems: The software applications are stored in the cloud and are connected to IP access control readers via the internet. Modern access control systems, such as Swiftlane, are built from the ground up for cloud computing and may be easier to use and scale.

Both types of systems can be managed remotely through the internet using mobile apps as well as browser-based dashboards. That’s why IP access control is also called web-based access control. 

How IP Door Access Control Works

The protocols are used to send packets of data over Ethernet cables, or wirelessly through WiFi. In IP based networks, each device has a unique IP address that other devices use to communicate with that device. IP communication has a greater bandwidth compared to the older Wiegand or OSDP protocols. This enables IP based networks to support rich data formats such as voice and video. 

Due to their greater processing power and data portability, IP based access control systems can use a variety of credentials including mobile, video, fingerprints, and facial recognition. IP based communication allows you to connect a myriad of devices—from access control hardware to security cameras and from video intercoms to computers.

10 Benefits of IP Door Access Control

No More Cables: The modern office has an Ethernet backbone running through every room and every floor. The IP door access control system can connect to access control devices using the existing Ethernet network. This eliminates the need to install dedicated communication lines for the access control system.

Remote Management: Ethernet networks connect directly to access-control software residing in the cloud. You can access the access control application from anywhere using a browser or mobile app. This means you and your staff can enroll users, modify access permissions, actuate remote lock or unlock, schedule visitor access, and manage other access control tasks without having to be in the office.

More Bandwidth: TCP/IP is a high-bandwidth, high-throughput data communication channel that can connect intelligent devices inside an office. Ethernet or WiFi based communication is completely agnostic of type of communication running on top of it. You can think of it as a very high speed bus that provides communication at the full network speed. 

More Security: IP door access control allows the use of video, voice, face, fingerprints, and mobile as credentials, unlike the legacy Wigeand and OSDP systems that relied on keycards as the only credential. Use of multiple credentials improves workplace security by linking the credential to a user’s personal identity and enabling multi factor authentication.

More Convenience: Using mobile or face recognition IP door access control rids you of the unnecessary workload and expense of printing, reprinting, revoking, and dispatching cards or fobs. It puts an end to the perpetual lost- or forgotten-card problem and sets your employees and visitors at ease.

Power over Ethernet (PoE): You can even power your PoE devices such as IP readers, IP cameras, and video intercom system through your Ethernet network by connecting a PoE adapter. All you have to do is run a single cable for providing both power and data to all your devices. 

Easier to Maintain: IT teams are super familiar with controlling access over IP, using a very modern set of networking tools that are widely deployed in all the offices. PoE eliminates the use of the RS-485 bus, which requires special knowledge to install and troubleshoot.

Easier to Scale: There is no limit on the number of IP controllers in an IP door access control system. The older Wiegand access control systems connected to multiple controllers through the RS-485 bus, which had a max limit of 32 controllers per line. IP access control systems can be easily scaled to multiple doors and remote locations through the internet. 

Can be Wired or Wireless: IP-based access control is suitable for both hardwired and wireless applications. For example, Doorbird video doorbell and access control simply needs a WiFi network to start working.

Future Proof Technology: By switching to IP based systems, you can provide mobile unlock, face recognition unlock, two way video communications with guests, intelligent meeting room tablets, and all kinds of functionality required in any modern office. By investing in IP based systems, you’re building upon a well-proven stack of underlying technologies, which can be more future proof and support further evolution down the road.

Limitations of IP Door Access Control Systems

Despite their overwhelming benefits, IP-based systems do have weaknesses.

  • Network issues such as heavy traffic and hardware failure can render the IP door access control unusable
  • For hardwired systems, the maximum distance between a hub or a switch and a controller is limited to 100 meters
  • IP door access system may be susceptible to hacking, particularly if it is connected to an insecure local network
  • Most IP controllers do not support PoE and require a regular power connection
  • For PC-based IP door control systems, the event data from IP controllers cannot be retrieved if the host PC fails

IP Access Control Vs Wiegand and OSDP Access Control

There was a time when Wiegand or OSDP protocols were the only technologies available for door access control systems to communicate. These were low bandwidth protocols developed designed by the security industry to communicate smaller packets of data, such as card numbers, from a card reader to a door access control panel. 

Wiegand and OSDP card-based access control systems are still in use at many buildings, but they have several handicaps when compared to IP access control. 

5 Disadvantages of Wiegand and OSDP Access Control

Dedicated Cabling: You need to run Wiegand or OSDP cables through the whole building. Unlike Ethernet or Cat-5 cables, Wiegand and OSDP serve no other purpose than providing a transmission channel for the access control system. 

Limited Bandwidth: As discussed, a Wiegand or OSDP protocol is simply used to send a card number, a set of integer values or numbers from a card reader to an access control system. It cannot support mobile or face recognition credentials.

Weak Security: Keycards and fobs can get lost, stolen or cloned. The process of revoking lost or stolen cards and issuing new ones can be sluggish. It wastes time and creates a gap in workplace security. 

Difficult to Manage: Wiegand and OSDP access control systems, you need to sit down at the PC running the access control software each time you want to grant, revoke or modify access permissions. You just can’t do it without going to the office or requesting the access control service provider. 

Inefficient and Expensive: Printing and dispatching cards causes considerable workload and expense, which can be avoided by using IP door access control.

Why Upgrade to IP-Based Access Control?

After going through the advantages that IP communication has over legacy methods of data transmission, one doesn’t have to be a genius to figure out why the world is shifting to IP based systems. 

  • IP protocols allow the use of transmission channels (i.e. Ethernet and wireless) that are more robust, faster, easier to install and maintain, and can support a myriad of systems including access control, video surveillance, video intercom, computers, printers, smart office systems, and more. 
  • For access control, IP-based communication enables the use of mobile, biometric, and mobile credentials as well as live two-way video intercom between a visitor and host. 
  • You can enroll and remove users, lock and unlock doors, change access permissions, trigger emergency procedures, and receive deliveries without stepping in the office, even from halfway across the world. 
  • You can easily expand IP access control systems to any number of doors in multiple buildings separated by great distances.
  • Despite all of its benefits, IP-based door access control is cheaper and easier to install compared to the legacy access control methods that we have discussed above.

These are some of the reasons why IP door access control is sending Wiegand and OSDP systems where PBX telephones, P2P security cameras, and fax machines have gone. 

What Are Some of the Best IP Door Access Control System Manufacturers?

The definition of the best depends upon your needs. What’s best for a two-room office may not be best for a multi-floor building. Broadly speaking, there are three types of IP-based door entry system manufacturers:

Forced Adopters: Legacy manufacturers like Genetec and Software House that have shifted to IP after OSDP based communication went out of style. You can access their latest access control products online, but these pioneers of access control and security systems face the dual challenge of developing and marketing newer, cloud-connected products and servicing a huge clientele that still uses their older products. 

There are single-door access control systems like ISONAS and ADT, which are suitable for very small offices, with less than 50 people and a couple of doors to manage. 

The third category includes tech companies and startups born in the age of cloud computing and AI. Often run by tech-savvy millennials, these companies are capitalizing on the power of IP-based communications by connecting multiple office systems to a unified Ethernet-based access control platform. 

Swiftlane’s IP door access control system belongs in the third category. Manufactured by a Silicon Valley based company, Swiftlane IP door access control system brings together mobile access control, optional facial recognition access, and two-way video intercom in its cloud-connected Swiftreader. It can integrate backwards with card-based access control systems as well as integrate forward with emerging technologies such as smart office technologies. 

Swiftlane can be scaled to dozens of doors and multiple distant locations. The system has the potential to integrate with other cloud-based systems such as visitor management and video monitoring systems. Being a cloud-based IP door access control system, Swiftlane is available for an easy pay-as-you-go pricing. Contact us to learn more.

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