Adding access control: Net2

When implementing smart solutions, access control can play a significant role. This is not only in terms of managing access and egress, but such systems can also provide real-time status reports about the occupancy of a site. Access control can also deliver a host of additional benefits to enable the delivery of true added value. The key to realising the potential on offer is to always specify a system which is scalable, flexible and designed to allow customisation.

When thoughts turn to all things access control, the most common consideration will revolve around the control of flow through secure doors. The core functionality of any system is to ensure that authorised personnel can enter and leave quickly and easily whilst unauthorised persons are kept out. Of course, modern access control systems offer a much higher level of performance, and this can often be exploited to ensure that a smart and bespoke solution delivers a wider range of benefits for any business or organisation.

Access control systems can provide real-time reporting about site occupancy. As well as having security implications, such information is invaluable for purposes of health and safety. In the event of a disaster, for example, muster reporting is essential. The ability to have fast access to accurate reports of who is and who is not on site is critical.

Beyond this, occupancy information can also play an important role in power management. If a department (or for that matter a floor or even an entire building) is unoccupied, a smart solution can ensure that lighting and other non-essential powered systems are shut down.

Equally, occupancy information can be used to trigger systems or devices when somebody enters an unoccupied area. For example, if an area in a factory is carrying out processes involving noxious fumes, it may be a health and safety requirement that adequate ventilation is used when the area is occupied. To ensure compliance, the access control system could automatically switch on fans whenever a member of staff enters the area.

Asset tracking is another role where access control can enhance value for the customer. With appropriate design, a system will be able to identify the location of any individual within a site, and if assets are tagged and linked to them, it could even identify where any given asset was last used and by whom.

When developing solutions for smart sites, access control should not be confined to entry and exit points. Whilst these obviously need proper protection, adding control to other internal doors and/or departments can enable a number of benefits that make a business or organisation more efficient.

If this approach is taken, budgets can be managed by ensuring that high security access control is deployed and entry and exit points as well as high-risk locations within the building. Cost-effective devices can then be used in lower risk areas for tracking and management tasks.

A modular approach

The Benchmark Smart Solutions project is using Net2 from Paxton as its core access control system. Net2 is a modular system which combines a high degree of flexibility with ease of installation in a cost-effective package. Because Paxton has an open mind with regards to integration and partnerships, this makes the system ideal for those looking to deliver bespoke solutions.

Whilst Paxton has taken significant steps to ensure that Net2 is both quick and easy to install, this does not mean that the system is basic in terms of functionality. Indeed, Net2 offers a high degree of flexibility. For example, it can support integration with video surveillance, intruder alarm and fire alarm systems. Other features include anti-passback and security lockdown for high-risk sites. Where HR departments require, there is also time and attendance functionality.

The Net2 range supports numerous readers from Paxton as well as a host of third-party devices. Because the product is so widely used, the majority of manufacturers offering professional specialised readers will freely integrate with the Paxton system. Paxton also offers a video door entry solution designed specifically to work on the Net2 platform.

Net2 is an IP-based system but can also support RS485 connectivity. Because of the flexibility with regards to integration and system design, most installers and integrators looking to create bespoke solutions will take advantage of the network connectivity.

Recognising this, Paxton also offers I/O boards which support four inputs and four outputs. These can be controlled from the Net2 software which includes a ‘triggers and actions’ function. By allowing the implementation of logic-based programming, the system is elevated beyond simple access control. Entry and exit transactions, whether valid or invalid, can form part of a triggering process which enhances site management.

Earlier we referred to asset management and its potential to add value if integrated into an access control system. Paxton offers a proximity hands-free interface which enables the system to read credentials which are in pockets or bags or attached to items. Ranges of up to 2.5 metres are achievable, and the interface is simple to install and allows existing readers to be upgraded.

Where wireless connectivity is required, the Net2Air bridge can be used to link wireless controllers with the PC running the central software. Numerous bridges can be used throughout the site, enhancing flexibility and maximising the potential for the most cost-effective system topology to be implemented.

Installation

The Net2 range has been designed to be installer-friendly, from the way that connections are colour-coded right down to the use of simple connectors to minimise the time spent wiring.
Most Net2 peripherals follow a similar process, so familiarity is ensured across the range. This benefits installers and integrators in terms of reduced time on site.

The controllers have static IP addresses, which for many installers and integrators is the preferred way of working. It ensures that there is no confusion over addressing and prevents potential conflicts. Paxton provides configuration utilities and diagnostic LEDs ensure that the system status can be checked with ease.

Paxton uses pictorial-based manuals, underlining the inherent simplicity of the installation process. The manufacturer also has what is arguably one of the better technical support operations in the security market. In short, any engineer worth their salt will find Paxton’s Net2 range simple to work with.

Indeed, the simplicity is why many engineers prefer Net2 when delivering bespoke solutions with a high degree of flexibility.

In summary

Net2’s well-considered modular design ensures that added value can be delivered in a cost-effective package. because integration is important to the manufacturer, it ensures that the system combines high performance with a significant degree of flexibility.

The wide range of peripherals allows installers and integrators to create innovative solutions, and those who see the system as solely for basic access control tasks are missing a trick or two!

As will be demonstrated by the Smart Solutions project, Net2 has a rich vein of potential waiting to be realised.

Benchmark Smart Solutions
Benchmark Smart Solutions is dedicated to supporting those seeking innovative and bespoke value-added solutions for business and the home environment. Through real-world field trials it assesses the potential available from current technologies and integrated systems. Benchmark Smart Solutions is produced by the team at Benchmark magazine.