As Grosvenor Technology celebrates 30 years of evolution in access control solutions, Managing Director Colin Leatherbarrow takes SJUK on a tour of the last three decades and looks to the future.
Thirty years ago, Grosvenor Technology’s access control division embarked on its pioneering journey with the launch of Janus and Siteguard in 1993. Riding the technological wave of PC-based computing, these solutions revolutionised access management by replacing traditional locks and keys with digital access cards and sophisticated entry systems.
It is difficult to overemphasise the leap from the era of analogue locks and keys – solutions that had existed for hundreds of years – to token-based access control, where users could allocate digital credentials, as well as individual permissions, access groups, and time zones.
As a result, Janus, fortified with robust security features, and Siteguard, tailored for larger premises, rapidly garnered acclaim, setting a new benchmark quickly adopted across the industry.
Here, we look at some subsequent technologies and trends that have driven progress and innovation in the access control space.
A significant turning point arrived with the advent of cloud-based solutions. Its precursor – multisite – was introduced by Sateon Enterprise, resulting in enterprises leveraging the power of connectivity. While still technically on-premises, the multisite environment can be considered the natural precursor to today’s cloud evolution.
This transition ushered in new-found flexibility and remote management capabilities, enabling businesses to swiftly adapt to evolving security needs and seamlessly oversee access across multiple locations.
Cloud technology has liberated access control systems from previously rigid confines, enabling a more adaptable and agile approach. Unlike conventional setups, where adjustments could be cumbersome, cloud solutions effectively modify access parameters. This agility empowers businesses to promptly address emerging security concerns and maintain robust protective measures.
By centralising control in virtual command centres, cloud-based access controls have eliminated the complexities of overseeing access across various locations and given decision-makers a comprehensive view of their security infrastructure, improving oversight and informed decision-making.
Biometric authentication, which has streamlined access processes and virtually eradicated unauthorised entry attempts. Whereas previously, we had dual authentication – credentials and pins – it was and remains flawed as both can be shared and replicated. This third factor has made it far more difficult for bad actors to steal and use credentials.
Wireless access control
Wireless access control has brought about a transformative shift, introducing many improvements that have elevated security measures, simplified installations, and enhanced operational efficiency. The widespread adoption of wireless access has undoubtedly enabled organisations to be more flexible, allowing for strategically positioning access points based on security requirements and operational convenience. This flexibility ensures that security measures can be customised and optimised according to the unique needs of each location, enhancing overall protection.
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 presented unparalleled challenges for businesses on a global scale. Suddenly, prioritising employee safety and health took precedence, casting access control into a crucial role in implementing health protocols.
Grosvenor Technology’s JanusC4 proved invaluable in this context, facilitating touchless access control and integrating temperature screening and occupancy technologies. This adaptability underscored the division’s continued dedication to effectively respond to emerging crises, ensuring workplace safety amidst uncertainty.
The access control market has been characterised by technological evolution over the last 30 years, and that trend is likely to accelerate in the coming years. In this section, we’ll look at some technologies that are predicted to shape the future of access control, continuing to drive its transformative journey.
It could be argued that 2023 is the year that Artificial Intelligence (AI) went mainstream, with businesses and investors alike recognising its vast potential and incorporating it into a wide array of industries and applications.
It has significant potential in the access control space, offering a new level of sophistication and efficiency. AI’s analytical capabilities promise to enable access control systems to intelligently interpret data, identify patterns, and make informed decisions in real time. This advancement enhances security by swiftly detecting anomalies or unauthorised access attempts and optimises operational processes by adapting access protocols based on usage patterns.
Similarly, data analytics is set to deliver a new level of precision and insight to access control. By harnessing the power of data, access control systems can evolve from mere gatekeepers to proactive sentinels, finely attuned to the patterns and trends that shape security landscapes. This transformation promises to enhance not only the effectiveness but also the efficiency of access control measures.
Access control systems can intelligently decipher user behaviour through data analytics, identifying anomalies and potential threats in real time. This proactive approach enables rapid responses to emerging security challenges, preventing breaches before they materialise. Moreover, data-driven insights from access control interactions can provide valuable information for optimising resource allocation, refining operational protocols, and enhancing user experiences.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to forge a deeper integration with access control systems. Access control can become more context-aware and responsive by connecting various devices and sensors, meaning access decisions can be made based on real-time environmental data, such as occupancy levels, temperature, or even air quality. The result is a more adaptive and efficient access control system that enhances security and user experience.
Gesture recognition, a form of biometric technology, is another area tipped for growth in the access control sector. Systems can grant or deny access by analysing and interpreting human gestures, such as hand movements or body postures. Gesture recognition offers a contactless and intuitive approach to access control, making it well-suited for environments where hygiene and ease of use are paramount.
The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend has emerged as a catalyst for change in access control. This trend involves integrating mobile credentials onto personal smart devices like smartphones and smartwatches, revolutionising how we engage with access systems. This shift offers heightened convenience and security, as individuals can utilise their smartphones for seamless and biometrically fortified access. And the amalgamation of BYOD with the IoT within smart buildings presents an opportunity for these mobile devices to become integral components, not only for access but also for contributing real-time data that refines security and operational effectiveness.
Peering into the future, the path ahead for access control holds great promise as Grosvenor Technology continues to refine JanusC4 to address emerging market needs. Anticipating the unveiling of new generations of access control in 2024, the company is committed to redefining security standards, harnessing the latest breakthroughs in IoT, AI, and data analytics.
Chris Wrench, Senior Product Manager, says: “Building upon three decades of knowledge and experience in meeting stringent security requirements, Grosvenor stands poised to introduce its next-gen access control software. Crafted using cutting-edge technology, this innovative solution keeps pace with the evolving world while retaining the popularity of our much-loved Advance hardware introduced in 2016.
“Customers can seamlessly integrate this newest iteration of JanusC4 with their existing hardware estate, benefiting from enhanced configurability and an improved new design.”
Grosvenor Technology’s access control division’s journey over the past 30 years underscores the transformative power of innovation, proving that access control is far more than just locks and keys – it’s a dynamic field that adapts to the needs of the present while shaping a more secure future.