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S2 Access Control: Review, Pricing and Comparison

In this review, you’ll find an in-depth look at S2 Access Control, also known as S2 Netbox, including key features and system pricing. With a comprehensive review of advantages and setbacks, you’ll be able to evaluate your building’s needs and choose the right solution. 

About S2 Security

S2 Security was founded in 2003 by John Moss, the same person who founded Software House, which was later acquired by Tyco. As of October 2018, S2 was sold to UTC-owned security giant Lenel. LenelS2 is now a part of Raytheon Technologies (RTX).

S2 is among the pioneers of web-based physical access control and security systems. Its solid-state NetBox Access Control System took the market by storm and loosened the grip of established providers such as Tyco and Lenel.  By 2010, the S2 NetBox had completed 10,000 installations worldwide. S2 continued to improve its solution in the coming years by adding video monitoring, and cloud- and mobile-based security to its portfolio.

Today, Lenel S2 positions itself as a unified security platform comprising access control, video surveillance, and more. It is deployed at Fortune 500 corporations, education and healthcare facilities, manufacturing industries, and government organizations around the world.

S2 NetBox Access Control

S2 NetBox, a solid-state onsite appliance, can support up to 7 application blades and up to 32 S2 nodes. Nodes are proprietary control panels that are connected with readers and locks. The system uses an onsite hub or central network controller as the joining point for integrations and logins. The network controller is sometimes integrated with S2 nodes. Several nodes can be connected to a NetBox and several NetBoxes can be connected to each other to create a customized enterprise security platform.

Video monitoring is S2’s main strengths. The platform supports a wide range of third-party products and systems including controllers, readers, video intercom, video monitoring, visitor management, intrusion detection, wireless locks and more. The S2 access control system can be easily scaled from one or two doors to over 7000 portals. One of S2’s key selling points is that clients don’t need to pay for using the software. No licenses are required for adding more doors to a controller.

Key Features

  • Unified Security Solution: The S2 NetBox interface allows centralized management of user credentials, permission levels, access control events, video surveillance and other security systems.
  • Supports Legacy Access Control Methods: NetBox can integrate with legacy access control methods such as HID / RFID cards and biometrics.
  • Scalable S2 Nodes: S2 Network Node, Network Node VR and MicroNode Plus support up to 14, 8, and 2 doors or access points per node respectively.
  • Cloud Management through NetBox Online: NetBox Online is a subscription based solution that supports up to 64 portals. However, there’s hardly any company using NetBox Online right now. Most clients use the legacy on-premise version.
  • Video Monitoring: NetBox VR, VR Quatro, VRx and VRx Quatro allow tight integration between access control and video monitoring system.
  • S2 Magic Monitor is a unified display interface that joins access control, video surveillance, live internet feeds, security events and alarms, and credentials and access level management.
  • Mobile Video Management: LenelS2 offers the Mobile Security Professional app for on-the-go event management. The Android and iOS app allows mobile security staff to view surveillance video and monitor security events and alarms in real time. The app also provides a remote emergency unlock feature for specific doors.
    • Third-Party Integrations: S2 supports open integration with tons of third-party apps and products including HID, Mercury, ASSA ABLOY, and Allegion access control products, Axis, Exacq, Milestone, and Salient video management, DMP events and alarms system, Envoy, EasyLobby, and Veristream visitor management

Pricing

S2 Access Control pricing can range from ~$1000 to $2000 per door, depending on the number of access points or portals and the integrations needed. Additional costs apply for electrifying the door, and running the wires and labor. Typically the total cost could run around $5,000 per door.

S2 Access Control Review

Advantages

  • Flexible system, which can support from 2 to a virtually unlimited number of doors or portals
  • Large number of legacy integration options available
  • No licenses required for adding more portals to the same NetBox system
  • Ability to create expansive video walls

Disadvantages

  • As an on-premises system, S2 requires admins access server rooms each time a change in credentials or authorizations is required
  • S2 system still runs on a legacy windows computer interface, which requires technically trained staff at each location
  • No identity provider integrations; no ability to automatically remove users when they are terminated inside identity providers like G Suite, OKTA, Azure Active Directory
  • Requires add-on modules for video monitoring, video intercom, visitor management, etc

S2 vs. Swiftlane Access Control – which is better for your building?

S2 is a tried and proven access system with an impressive customer base. It has been one of the world’s most comprehensive video security and access control systems. The system is still being used by large corporations, governments and multinationals that have manned security operations, likely due to the expensive initial investment in hardware, software, and training. 

Cloud-Based Access Control

S2 NetBox is an on-premise access control solution that typically runs on Windows-based machines at the site. Swiftlane, on the other hand, is a cloud-based access control system that can be securely managed remotely from a desktop or mobile app. This includes adding or removing users, and revoking or changing access permissions without the need to be at the facility. Cloud management allows plug-and-play integration with other cloud-based security and management systems, such as G Suit, Envoy Visitor Management, OKTA, Azure Active Directory, and Swiftlane Health Check.

Touchless Access Control

Swiftlane also offers modern access solutions like mobile unlock and facial recognition access credentials. Biometric and mobile unlock solutions facilitate a touchless access experience, which is both convenient and health-conscious. Without the ability to rely on a completely cloud-based interface, S2 does not have that option.

Internet Security

The S2 web solution works with HTTP, not HTTPS. This limits the ability to meet the highest standard of internet security for users. Swiftlane is a privacy-first solution that focuses on user and data security throughout.

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