Member Discussion

IPVM Access Control Finder?

Conceptually, could there be an IPVM tool similar to the camera calculator but for Access Control Systems? ACS finder? ACS Hardware Finder etc..

Food for thought.


This subject caught my attention because solutions we have found available don't seem to work quite as well as expected or advertised. Our last attempt was with eMerge, made by S2 for Linear, which has turned out to be a disaster. We are now moving on to another provider of access control systems.

Due to the complexity of the systems and variables on each particular job, we like to makie a commitment to one manufacturer for the control system.

What were your thoughts on the information that would be provided?


Hello Joel:

We have discussed a similar idea internally but have always been somewhat hung on the criteria we'd compare platforms against.

It's straightforward enough to compare on features like dBase support, hardware support, credential support, and so on, but those variables aren't very differentiating.

It is quite possible to match up major platforms on paper, and they look the same/very similar, although they are very different in a given situation.

Also, price comparisons are a little tough, since dealer markups and project volume impact things greatly.

When it comes to shopping for access, what does the forum think are important criteria to compare?


My thoughts were from this typical end user persepective, where to start looking for direction to take and to research further. Start with the basic questions and then build up the application from there;

Scenario #1 - Totally new install

  • How many entrances/exists?
  • What type of entrance/exists? Inside/Outdoors, Doors, Turnstyles, Vehicle roadways
  • etc, etc, etc,

How many entrances/exists to cover? What type of office doors, turnstiles, vehicle gates etc..

Scenario #2 - Existing system

  • Same questions as above but then elaborate on what existing system is in place and provide a series of questios to add for potential path forward such as Upgrade vs. replace?
  • For example, lets say you have vendor X with firmware revision Y.0. Perhaps a set of proper questions in the tool could compare what you have now with an updated IPVM database which could provide you with things like.. Y.0 has firmware updates but you cannot use it with the current controllers without replaceing them with the next level of hardware?

Conceivably, I would think, again, starting with the basics, such an online tool could be made but it would certainly need to stay current to stay relevant.

John, Brian or Ethan.... any thoughts?

The proposed output would be basically a list of potential manufacturers, hardware, software to begin my research further.


From an end-user perspective, at least in my case, a tool that would at least provide one with a 'starting' point to begin researching further would be my main positive output requirement. Not so much pricing at this stage. I just want a set of potential solutions to start my path to further investigation.

Thanks for the feedback, Joel!

Another key here is dealer/service availability. If the 'short list' returned four platforms, but two don't have installing dealers in your area, do you think the result is still useful?

I upvoted you for 'informative' for the help here.

I would'nt eliminate or filter them out from the search output. I would leave that to the person receiving the output to make that decision. However, a field where the user could limit the results (if they so desire) would be useful upfront of the search criteria.


How about a zip code (US) or postal region (other) and then a Miles/Kilometre field for how far away from that region to use as a filter criteria?

I have conducted many product-to-product comparisons for access control systems (usually when evaluating RFP responses) and I can tell you that it is a monumental task. There are a wide range of different types of system architectures and application software designs that make direct feature to feature comparison a real challenge. Terminology also varies greatly between manufacturers; for example an "access level" on one system may mean something entirely different than an "access level" on another system.

I have typically prepared comparisons between three to five different products and needed dozens of footnotes to try and explain the variations described above. I can't imagine what would be needed to compare all of the major access control systems available today, especially if you included the variants like Salto.

I have seen some feeble attempts by some of the security magazines to create an access control system "buyers guide", but these were incredibly inaccurate and misleading. I would rather see IPVM do nothing than to create something that was on online version of one of these.


I can understand your perspective (as a Security Consultancy Firm Owner) however from a end-users perspective, not doing anything is not improving how we get started in the first place. Even if it guides us to the output saying 'here's a list of access control or security consultants' that can assist you in your particular situation.


How do you start an investigation from scratch? What key questions are important to you when determining a path for a new client?


I normally conduct a comprehensive Security Assessment for the client that looks at security risks, loss history, physical security (doors, locks, fences, lighting), operational security (policies and procedures, guard staffing, etc.) and electronic security (alarms, access control, video, etc.)

Once this assessment is complete, I usually have a good understanding of the client's business and security needs and can begin developing a specification for the access control system.

If I was asked to design an access control system without having conducted an assessment, here are some of the questions I would ask:

  1. What is the type of business? (manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, financial services, etc.)
  2. What is the size of the organization (number of employees, number of sites, number of buildings per site, approximate size in SF per site)?
  3. Are there lots of smaller sites with just a few employees, or just a few big sites with lots of employees?
  4. Are the sites local, regional or international?
  5. What are the cities, states, and countries that the facilities are located in?
  6. Are any of the sites located in high-rise buildings?
  7. Do any of the sites contain computer data centers?
  8. Are properties primarily company owned or leased?
  9. What type of network connectivity exists between the sites?
  10. Is the business in a highly regulated industry (pharmaceutical, financial services, chemical, etc?)
  11. Does the organization operate one or more 24/7 security command centers?
  12. Does the management style of the business tend to be centralized or decentralized?
  13. Do you plan to manage the access control system from a central location, or will the system be managed at the local site level?
  14. Are manual locks and keys in the organization managed centrally or on a site by site basis?
  15. Are there existing access control systems at any of the sites?
  16. Is there a desire to reuse all or a portion of the existing systems, or do you want to start completely from scratch?
  17. Is there a desire to use an existing credential (employee ID card, TWIC or FIPS card, etc.) as the access control credential?
  18. Is there a desire to assign card access privileges through the use of Active Directory?
  19. Will the system be used as the primary security management platform, or just for access control purposes?
  20. Will the system be interfaced with video surveillance or video management systems?
  21. Will the system be used for time and attendance purposes?
  22. Will the system be used for parking control purposes?
  23. Is there a need to manage or monitor the system using mobile devices?
  24. Will the system be interfaced with HVAC or building automation systems?
  25. Will the system be used to arm/disarm intrusion alarm systems?
  26. Will the system be used for visitor management?
  27. Will the system be used to provide guard tour functions?
  28. Will the system be maintained using in-house technicians or an outside contractor?

This list is by no means all inclusive, but would give me a good place to start.