Electronic access control integration is the first stop on the road to smarter buildings

September 11, 2018 by Jim Dearing

There’s little doubt as to the role that an access control system can play as part of a smart building environment. By their nature, access control systems are collectors of massive amounts of data on the behavior of people and systems. But in order to effectively harvest actionable information out of this received data, it has to be readable in a common format.

Profile A from ONVIF could offer a solution for this in the future, by providing users with a common interface by which to extract and analyze this data, and allow the market to continue to grow through interoperability and innovation.

In this contributed blog, Jim Dearing, senior analyst, security and building technology, IHS Markit, provides some perspective and analysis of access control integration in the smart building environment.



Electronic access control integration is the first stop on the road to smarter buildings
By Jim Dearing, senior analyst, security and building technology, IHS Markit


  • Electronic access control systems are the leading type of security system being integrated into building management system (BMS) platforms. In fact, 6 percent of access control equipment shipments — including readers, door controllers and electronic locks — were installed and connected to a BMS platform in 2017.
  • Unit shipments of access control equipment that is connected to a BMS platform are forecast to outpace the rest of the market by a considerable margin, increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.5 percent over the next five years. By comparison, total market unit shipments for access control equipment are forecast to rise at a CAGR of 8.8 percent.

Our analysis

Partnering with BMS providers, or developing proprietary building management systems, will become an important part of access control providers’ product roadmaps over the next five years. This trend is especially relevant to providers aiming their solutions at the enterprise segment.

Leading access control providers will need to remain vigilant as full command-and-control-style BMS platforms become more popular. Opting to develop a proprietary solution would allow access control providers to protect themselves from this threat. However, outside the top ten access control providers, few companies possess the financial resources and existing product portfolio to compete against the leading BMS market incumbents.

The primary reasons BMS platform integration is becoming more popular are the following:

  • Interoperability —BMS platforms are capable of aggregating significant amounts of data from equipment across many domains, which allows end users to manage a wide variety of building management functions via a single platform. As the process is centralized and simplified, it can be completed using fewer resources.
  • Data visualization —Accumulated data from multiple domains can be categorized, structured and presented to end users in a series of charts, graphs and other visual tools designed to easily communicate complex information to viewers. As dashboards and data visualization directly affect a user’s experience with BMS platforms, these tools have also become crucial differentiators for competing products in the market.
  • Analytics —BMS platforms offer automated testing, reporting and fault detection and preventative diagnostics functionality to end users. These offerings improve building security by ensuring all devices are working optimally. They also allow end users to compare historical data and recalibrate individual subsystems to improve efficiency.
  • Changes to the supplier base —Many leading security manufacturers are investing heavily in developing their wider building managing portfolios, to ensure their competitive advantages are not eroded by rivals offering more complete solutions.

Access control versus other security equipment

Access control systems are considered to be an important piece of the smart building puzzle, due to the quality of information the system can provide the BMS platform regarding building occupants’ whereabouts and how they move through the building.

BMS platform integration can allow the access control authentication decision to become smarter, by taking into account information from other connected security or building-management systems. A simple example is using video surveillance feeds to verify access-control card swipes.

Access control integration is essential to unlocking the potential of higher-level BMS platform functionality. As more BMS solutions move towards command-and-control-style features, which allow buildings to adjust building management subsystems to respond to individual occupants’ actions, the need for access-control integration grows exponentially. Physical access-control systems and identity-management platforms are the key to initializing many BMS processes, since they provide the starting command that lists the tasks users must accomplish once a specific person has entered the building.

The barriers to wider adoption

One of the main barriers to adoption are worries over who is actually in charge. In centralized architectures, the BMS platform provider will always want to exert ultimate authority, as the building’s intelligence and its analytics supersede orders from software in access control and other subordinate domains. However, access control suppliers are uncomfortable relinquishing this authority to third-party BMS platforms, because their software feature sets are what enables them to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Another barrier is the fact that end users can often be slow to adapt to new technologies. During the past decade, the access control industry has struggled to bring security and IT departments together. Smart building integration would likely add a third entity into the mix: facility managers. Due to the slow speed at which large organizations often restructure, getting these three departments to effectively collaborate to leverage the true capability of full building integration is an issue that is unlikely to be resolved in the next five years.

Smart Buildings Report – 2018

This report examines the global market for the equipment and building management system (BMS) platforms installed in building projects and analyzes significant trends, threats and opportunities for growth affecting this market through 2022. BMS platforms include any computer-based control system that monitors some or all of a building’s mechanical and electrical systems, including a building’s energy, security and life safety domains.



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