S2 Security Access Control Review, Pricing and Comparison

Access Control

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.

Product Overview of S2 NetBox Access Control and Video Monitoring System

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.

Read: Guide to Access Control

Whether you’re a beginner who is new to understanding access control or an advanced IT professional looking to delve deeper into advanced technologies, this access control guide is for you.

Features of S2 Access Control System

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 price 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.

Pros of S2 Access Control

  • Flexible system—can support from 2 to a virtually unlimited number of doors or portals
  • Runs on a Windows machine separate from the server
  • Tight integration and easy management of access control and video monitoring systems
  • No licenses required for adding more portals to the same NetBox system
  • Integrates with third-party access control, video monitoring and visitor management systems and products
  • Ability to create expansive video walls

Cons of S2 Access Control

  • Being an on-premises system; S2 requires admins to walk up to 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: You cannot automatically remove users when they are terminated inside identity providers like G Suite, OKTA, Azure Active Directory
  • No browser or mobile-based remote management features.
  • Proximity cards can be cloned, which increases the physical security risks
  • In COVID times, office managers have to individually ship key cards to every employee
  • Lost cards can cause unnecessary operational burden and add significant costs
  • Can’t manage multiple buildings from the same system
  • No mobile app or proximity unlock feature
  • No built-in face recognition capability
  • Requires add-on modules for video monitoring, video intercom, visitor management, etc
  • Cannot grant visitor access ahead of time via digital access
  • The mobile app still needs a lot of work and doesn’t provide mobile based unlock for employees and visitors
  • No COVID safety features

Is S2 Access Control Right for Your Needs?

S2 has been a hugely successful access control and security system for all types of facilities, particularly large business and government enterprises. However, the absence of remote access management and built-in mobile- and face-based unlock may be a serious limitation. S2 may not be the best system for companies looking to offer a modern and touchless entry experience to employees and visitors. There are better choices available for residential and commercial buildings where tenant satisfaction is a big differentiator.

Comparison of S2 Unified Security with Swiftlane Touchless Access Control

S2 Access Control and Video Monitoring System

S2 is an on premise access control solution that typically runs on on-site Windows based machines. Most clients are using the vintage on-premises NetBox, which has all the drawbacks of on-site access control solutions.

For example:

  • You cannot add or remove users from anywhere through a browser or mobile app; like you can with cloud-based systems
  • Administrators have to go into the server room to issue, revoke or make changes to access permissions
  • Legacy network based systems often use HTTP protocols for internal data communications, which makes them a looming cybersecurity disaster
  • S2 also doesn’t offer mobile access, face recognition and two-factor authentication, shortcomings that may deteriorate user experience and compromise security

Technologies like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, smartphones and face recognition didn’t exist when Lenel, Tyco, and S2 were taking over built spaces. While S2 has been trying to stay abreast of burgeoning technology, its security solution needs auxiliary hardware and software components to enable features that come built-in with modern systems such as Swiftlane.

Swiftlane Touchless Access Control

Swiftlane was born after the world had started shifting its systems to the cloud. Smartphones and AI had become household names. With a postmodern DNA, Swiftlane makes it easier and smarter to achieve the same functionalities using fewer, simpler components.

  • Swiftlane’s software allows remote access control management through native browser and mobile app interfaces. You can add or remove users, change access permissions for each door, view entry photos, and lock and unlock doors from anywhere in the world
  • Swiftlane’s hardware delivers fully integrated video monitoring, face recognition, video intercom, cloud management, and mobile app/proximity unlock; built right into its touchless access control system
  • Swiftlane is fully cloud-managed, with the Swiftlane Access Point and controller the only onsite components
  • The access point works simultaneously as a Weigand, Bluetooth, and face recognition based reader as well as a video entry intercom. It reads the credentials and sends them directly to the cloud
  • The Swiftlane Controller is a cloud-connected door and security system controller that receives instructions from the cloud to allow or restrict access, sound alarms or activate other connected devices
  • 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

Conclusion

S2 is a tried and proven 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.

Some of the clients continue with what’s essentially an outdated access control system because they have already invested huge amounts of money into S2’s hardware, software, and training. Others may have unfounded concerns regarding the security of their data if they shift operations to the cloud. Eventually, when it’s time to upgrade to cloud-based access control, many of S2’s clients may be able to find better options than NetBox Online.

Ready to Learn More About Touchless Access Control?

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