With its solutions installed at numerous airports throughout the world, CEM Systems can claim to be the leading provider of access control and security management solutions for the aviation sector. What is perhaps not so well known is that the company has also achieved considerable success within other vertical market sectors, such as data centres, healthcare, education and utilities.
We asked Philip Verner, Regional Sales Director for the security products division of Johnson Controls, the global leader for smart and sustainable buildings, to explain how CEM Systems has been able to consistently win new orders for major access control projects throughout EMEA, despite facing stiff competition from countless other access control manufacturers.
Q: Philip, how would you position CEM Systems against the other choices available to consultants, system integrators and end-users?
A: We are able to provide cost-effective solutions for virtually any access control application, regardless of size or complexity. However, we are at our best when meeting the requirements of mission critical or high security projects. Essentially, ‘where security matters!’
Q: Why do you think CEM Systems is able to fulfil the needs of these types of projects better than any other access control solutions supplier?
A: Businesses and organisations which out of necessity, have adopted a zero-risk strategy to protecting their assets, people, property and data, will inevitably need several layers of security to ensure they have absolute control as to who can go when and where within their buildings or sites.
This multi-layered approach to security minimises the opportunities for criminal activity, but also enables users to create a safe and secure environment for employees, contractors and visitors. CEM Systems is exceptionally good at complementing other physical security measures which may be in place, by facilitating the smooth movement of people into and around a building, whilst ensuring that unwanted visitors are kept out.
One of our key strengths is understanding each end-user client and the vertical sector they operate within, whether it is an airport, hospital, data centre or an oil & gas facility. Each will of course, have their own unique security needs. Together with other Tyco brands, we can use that knowledge to offer a comprehensive, customised hardware and software solution which provides a maximum level of security by being tailored to meet the specific requirements of each vertical sector.
We are also able to provide clients with additional functionality which goes beyond security, by helping them operate more efficiently.
Q: Can you give some examples of CEM Systems’ functionality which can help businesses implement a zero-risk security strategy?
A: The benefits of a CEM Systems’ solution can perhaps best be explained within the context of a mission critical or high security market application, such as a data centre.
Of paramount importance to a data centre is the need to be able to safeguard confidential data and the servers it is stored on. There is the need therefore to have absolute control as to who is able to enter the building, but also to manage at a granular level from outside the facility to deep inside, when and who can gain entry to the most sensitive areas.
At the system level, in a facility such as a data centre, users can take full advantage of the functionality available with the AC2000 Security Hub solution, and particularly so when it is integrated with other systems and technology such as ANPR, intrusion, fire and video surveillance, for an integrated solution covering the entire site.
AC2000 Security Hub is a security management application which provides situational awareness and allows operators to centrally manage events within an AC2000 access control system. With an intuitive, easy to use interface, the Hub provided the tools to enable operators to ensure there is full interoperability between all of a system’s component parts, and by doing so, simplify security operations and response times to any alarms or events.
At the device level a good place to start in terms of what CEM Systems can do to help a data centre have this strict level of control would be with our highly secure CEM DESFire smart cards. This is because we use AES encryption to ensure these cards cannot be cloned or the information on them hacked, thus ensuring only valid cards will give users access to a building.
Intelligent, feature-rich emerald terminals
The contribution emerald access terminals can make to ensuring a data centre is secure should also not be underestimated. With its sleek design and state of the art 4.3” LCD touch screen, the emerald range provides card reader and door controller functionality, scramble keypad for PIN security, fully integrated Voice over IP (VoIP) intercom and optional fingerprint biometric security, all in one powerful touch screen device.
Where an additional layer of biometric security is required, emerald offers a fingerprint option and is able therefore to meet a data centres’ requirements for multi-factor authentication i.e. card, PIN and biometric verification.
Q: Are emerald readers equipped with any features which would be of particular interest to data centres?
A: To include them all would make this article extremely long, but the following certainly deserve a mention.
• Swipe Invoke Access: This enables an access control card to be programmed to only allow access to specified internal areas of a building after it has been swiped through an activation reader typically located within the reception area of a building. The card is automatically deactivated after 24 hours or when it has been swiped through a ‘remove’ reader. It is an ideal way to ensure contractors or visitors do not gain access to sensitive areas or overstay their welcome.
• CEM Check List: The multi-function emerald door controller has an LCD monitor which can be set up to display a checklist which contractors or visitors need to complete correctly before they are granted access to a building or a specific area. Up to 6 questions can be included on a checklist. These could, for example, cover health & safety requirements or in a pandemic effected world, verify the visitor is fully aware they need to wear a face mask and that they do not have any symptoms associated with COVID-19.
• Multi Date Check: Providing an extra layer of safety and security, this feature can be used to introduce additional criteria to check that a colleague or contractor be allowed to continue access to specific areas of a data centre. Using the CEM AC2000 Web interface, it is very easy to produce detailed reports to identify if a person’s training is up to date or any certificates are close to their expiry dates. An appropriate message can also be displayed on an emerald reader’s monitor to remind the person what they need to do.
In addition, although not a key feature in respect of security, it is also worth pointing out that emerald can also be used by data centres for a variety of practical purposes, including time & attendance, controlling use of machines, e.g. photocopiers, remotely accessing and managing meeting room bookings and displaying visitor information.
Market leading technology
Q: Looking forward, what are you able to do to ensure there is clear blue water between CEM Systems and other access control solution providers when mission control, high security end-user clients such as data centres, are looking to enhance their security?
A: By employing software and hardware development engineers of the highest caliber and delivering the complete security solution, CEM has maintained a track record since the 1980’s of more often than not being the first to introduce significant advances in access control technology. These have included the following:
• Handheld portable card readers.
• Card readers with an internal database which continue to fully operate even when they are offline.
• POE+ enabled Door Controllers
• Touchscreen card readers able to run edge-based Applications, in a similar way to adding Apps to a smartphone, which provide functionality that goes beyond security, e.g. Time & Attendance, H&S and Room Booking system.
CEM Systems was also among the first to introduce Smartcard technology in the 1990s.
I believe we will be able to maintain a market leading position by continuing to introduce new ground-breaking features which truly add value. Our ongoing success will also be achieved by being vertically focused and by integrating with the best products from the industry, as well as the wider family of Tyco brands, to provide the right solution. Our engagement with stakeholders in each of our target market sectors is enabling us to fully understand and respond to the evolving requirements of existing and potential clients. As a result, you can expect to see a steady stream of exciting new features and functions announced over the coming months.