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Iowa GSA building deploys cloud-based physical access control system

The advancement of cloud computing will ultimately lead to the deployment of cloud-based security solutions. This trend has already begun with access control systems, as more organizations around the world are looking to implement centrally managed integrated security systems, according to a report by Contactless News.

The General Services Administration's Neil Smith Federal Building in Des Moines, Iowa, for example, recently implemented a cloud-based access control system to reduce the number of servers needed on-site. By deploying similar strategies, physical security controls can communicate with multiple agencies and offices around the country, while receiving extra technical support from the service provider, the news source said.

"While this may not be the public cloud that consumers are used to hearing about, government agencies and enterprises are migrating systems to private clouds, linking various locations via servers held in centralized, remote data centers," Contactless News said.

Cloud-based access control systems can boost security

By implementing a cloud-based access control system, the GSA can issue new and enroll existing personal identity verification credentials into the infrastructure from virtually anywhere. This turned into a process of its own because all 800 employees and 100 contractors needed to be registered with the system. However, each agency was different, as some administrators required individuals to use PIV cards, while others had never even received them, the news source reported.

After enrolling all the individuals who would use the physical security system, the GSA had to deploy hardware and readers on parking gates, elevator controls and automated doors. Contactless News noted that the GSA installed both contactless scanners and PIN pads that can be used to strengthen security during an emergency.

Cloud security systems have yet to catch on

The Neil Smith facility may be the first GSA building to deploy the cloud-based access control system but the agency is willing to converge with neighboring organizations.

"Any of those GSA buildings in the Kansas City region can basically jump on our system and they can do it at a lower cost," BridgePoint Systems president and CEO Tom Corder said, according to Contactless News. "And they don't have to bid out or evaluate other systems."

A separate report by SecurityInfoWatch noted that companies are currently at a crossroads when it comes to physical security, as they can either choose to embrace the cloud or postpone the inevitable. In many cases, implementing cloud-based integrated security systems will yield substantial benefits, although it has yet to reach mainstream adoption.

Part of the reason companies are not fully adopting cloud-based security systems is because IT executives and other decision-makers will be forced to develop a set of new guidelines and best practices if they do so, SecurityInfoWatch said. The benefits associated with the next-generation solutions, however, often outweigh the initial challenges, as companies can experience enhanced mobility, collaboration and physical protection.

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