Everyone can agree the convergence trend is in full force in the electronic security industry, and organizations are pushing more and more for integrated solutions that can not only enhance ROI but also solve problems that have traditionally been out of the realm of electronic physical security systems. This leaves system integrators and other solution providers in a difficult position as they scramble to be competitive especially when faced with an industry dominated by a few power players. Tackling this problem can now be a matter of survival for small to medium players especially in regional markets.
To address this need, Apollo security access control has introduced a new ASP series controllers that promise to set a new standard for secure, scalable and customizable solutions. For 30 years, Apollo has been known for producing some of the most robust hardware in the industry, and with the ASP series a new layer of flexibility has been added by allowing ‘post-factory’ customization in addition to many other feature upgrades. This will help put more control in the hands of integrators, and even end-users so they are not locked into hardware solutions that are ‘off the shelf’ and don’t provide any ability to adapt to customer specific needs for the present or the future.
The flagship of Apollo’s new controller series, the ASP-4 is an intelligent access controller designed to provide high performance security solution with ability to solve non-standard problems. Natively, the ASP-4 can support four readers and four doors, but when clustered with 32 other ASPs devices it can secure up to 128 doors in one management unit by utilizing inter-device communication across standard IT networks. Each ASP-4 can also support up to 16 additional readers by utilizing OSDP secure channel communications, supporting configurations such as 4 doors with in/ out (8 readers) or even more doors by adding input/ output modules for door control. Enterprise capacity of 250,000+ cardholders, 300 access levels with up to 50 access levels per card is provided at each device, providing total cardholders access rights database redundancy, preventing reduced functionality modes such as ‘facility code check only.’
The ASP’s real power lies, however, with the ability to customize the functions of the controller by loading customized App scripts and third-party protocols. Using industry standard ‘Clike’ programming language, the ASP can have new functions designed by the integrator. Running customizations at the hardware level instead of software offers the benefits of drastically reduced time/ cost of implementation, as well as superior reliability. Earlier if an organization wanted to integrate a new device such as an alarm panel, fire system or similar, they would have to request software customization which could take months and costed tens of thousands of dollars; however, with the ASP such a task can take days or weeks and be completed within a budget of hundreds of dollars.
An example of how effective this customization works was provided by a subsidiary of a large multi-national that was struggling to comply with strict labor regulations. Under these rules, workers in their factory can only work six consecutive days, requiring the seventh day for rest. The HR department struggled to keep track of this as each employee’s rest day was prior to when six days was expired; in addition to workers switching shifts and other complications the tracking was too difficult to be done manually, so an automated solution was necessary. The current access control solution the company was using didn’t provide any solution for this so the only possibil ity was expensive customization which would take 3-4 months and then there was no guarantee what would happen in the future if needs would change.
With ASP-4, Apollo’s local partner was able to offer a much more rapid solution. The requirements were programmed into a logic script that was loaded to the controller. This script checks every cardholder at time of access for any violation of the rules and deny access if necessary, displaying a reason on an LCD display as well as flash an indicator light so that the cardholder will know it is not simply an access level error that has denied their entry. This customization took less than one man-day to program and was tested over the course of one week before it was ready to deploy. The ability to do this customization gave the partner the edge needed to provide a timely, cost effective solution to a problem that could have costed the company greatly if a work-related accident resulted in legal action. In the future, the logic script can be easily changed, for example if the company would like to move to a five-day work week in the future.
Additional customization possibilities are possible using the serial connections of the ASP. This allows integration of input devices such as scales or barcode scanners, or interface to any device that has a serial interface such as displays, mimic panels, entry phone systems and more. Protocols for these devices can be embedded in scripts and the devices can assume alarm input/ output functions, or even new card reader types can be supported such as wireless locks or long-range RFID readers.
In addition to being customizable, the ASP of course is designed with security in mind. With all communication channels being secured with 128-bit TLS encryption which prevents attempts to intercept or forge data. Security goes all the way down to the reader using OSDP secure channel to protect card reader data transmission lines. Being able to communicate simultaneously with up to five software hosts also gives the ASP ability to be monitored in real-time by redundant systems, ensuring that important alarms are always delivered in time for the security team to react.
The ASP series has been designed from the ground up to be friendly to software OEMs and system integrators using other systems in place of or addition to Apollo Security’s software platform. A native open platform SDK allows tight integration with all the ASP’s standard features in addition to the customizations available through scripting and embedded software. The SDK comes with several integration pathways including .NET and Python and includes sample code, tutorials and online developer support.
To better support software OEM partners, Apollo Security’s parent company, ADME INC., has recently announced a new division, ApolloEM which will provide support for partners that utilize the ASP hardware platform in their own software solutions. William Lorber, Vice President of Sales and Marketing said, “Establishing a separate division to strengthen our role as an access hardware OEM became logical as more partners are coming on board to utilize our new product line. We are excited to see the solutions that our partners develop on this platform.” Lorber added that partners will be able to share and market their solutions on the upcoming App Script Library platform that Apollo will roll out later this year to expand the effectiveness of ASP solutions.