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Looking for Clever Automation
Posted: 31 January 2011 06:59 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Looking for projects that demonstrate clever implementations of automation systems. Maybe you set something up for the owners pets? Perhaps the garage is automated to the hilt? Anything that’s out of the ordinary…. would love to hear about it.

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Posted: 31 January 2011 03:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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How about access control with proximity card reader used to allow interns access with a card that can’t easily be duplicated and can be tracked.  The interesting automation piece is that the interns sometimes enter the facility when the alarm is armed.  So the card access when granted disarms the alarm.  No need to give the intern a key, or the code.  Then if an intern is the last to leave, they just quick arm the system, still no need to know the code.  That way the company doesn’t have to change locks or even alarm codes as frequently.

That’s fun.

Or how about automating the property landscape lights to flash when the keyfob is used to disarm the house alarm from the street before opening the drive in gate that is on the alarm system.

There is also the classic - have the front gate intercom call your cell phone.  That way when UPS has a drop off, it calls you - you can then enter a code that will open the garage door so they can make the delivery.  When they leave (verified from the web cam) you shut the door from your phone.

There’s a couple to get things started.

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Morgan Harman
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Posted: 31 January 2011 04:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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TheTechSource - 31 January 2011 03:47 PM

How about access control with proximity card reader used to allow interns access with a card that can’t easily be duplicated and can be tracked.  The interesting automation piece is that the interns sometimes enter the facility when the alarm is armed.  So the card access when granted disarms the alarm.  No need to give the intern a key, or the code.  Then if an intern is the last to leave, they just quick arm the system, still no need to know the code. 

That way the company doesn’t have to change locks or even alarm codes as frequently.

What if the card is lost or stolen? Now, the person who has illegally obtained the card can enter the “Secure” building and disable the alarm all with the swipe of one card. Not to secure in my opinion

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James A. Martinez III
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Posted: 02 February 2011 09:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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How would they know where to take the card?  They are not labelled with a business name or address.  I suppose you are against keyless entry to your car or the use of a keyfob for starting the engine?  The access control system is managed via browser.  So access for any card can be turned off with ease.  And, the entire front of the place is glass.  So you aren’t keeping out a determined thief.  Many alarm companies are now offering the convenience of keyfobs for alarms.  It does the exact same thing, disarms the alarm without entering a code.  So what if Mrs. Smith looses her purse?  Now they have her home address AND all her keyfobs.  Yikes.  I guess we’re back to guard dogs and shotguns.  smile

There is certainly always the other side of a solution to consider.  They felt they had less control over other entry alternatives for short-term interns to have access to the secured building.

And I suppose the term secured can always be put in quotes.  Because what is secure, really?

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Posted: 03 February 2011 10:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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@ Digital Studio Werks,

Morgan is right on.  Access Control cards can be disabled over the web instantly.  If one is lost or stolen, you just crush it with some 1s and 0s from cyberspace.

They also log every user as unique, so you know exactly when people go in and out. 

Data centers I have consulted on even have man traps, one door one man into a holding cell, then the internal door on the other side can be opened to get through.  You use an overhead traffic cam to assure 1 person.  There is a camera in there for a guard to verify.  There is a scale in the floor, and your weight is tagged on your card.  If you are smuggling out hardware, or sneaking out when the guard is on break, you are foiled by the floor.  It senses the weight difference in the trap, and can lock you in and sound the alarm so they can come search you before you leave.

Access control does just that, controls access. 

There are 3 levels too.  They are:

What you have. i.e. card
What you know i.e. keypad for PIN code
Who you are i.e. biometric hand geometry, fingerprint, or retina readers

Use all three in combination and someone would have to go to Brown’s “Angels and Demons” lengths to break in.

Good info Morgan.

Mark C

[ Edited: 03 February 2011 10:52 PM by Mark Coxon ]
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Best and God Bless,

Mark Coxon

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”-Arthur C. Clarke

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Posted: 04 February 2011 01:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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@Morgan, @Mark
Yes, Morgan is correct an access card can be disabled on the fly. But that is not the point.

Both of you are making wrong assumptions and there is no way you would want to tie an access card that allows building access & disables security.
1) Your assuming that the card will be reported right away which may or may not happen. A person might not know it’s missing until their next shift and then he/she may think “Oh, I must have left it in the “break room at work/in my desk/in my office/in my car/in my other purse/ etc. What if they are off for 2 days. If they are off for 2 days in a row then technically 4 days can possibly go by until the employee actually realizes it’s lost. The day they loose it, the 2 days they are off and the day they go back to work.

2) You are also assuming a stranger will find it and not know what company the badge belongs to. How about a co-worker steeling it so they can come in and steal from the company when your not there? How about a roommate doing the same? There are many, many scenarios I can give.

A little bit of my background, besides DSW, I also own one of the largest data service companies around (it’s a separate company from DSW but both companies share the same clients). We manage global network operations for Fortune 100 companies and our data center is ISO9001 certified.

In order to get to the data center floor you have to go through the following (this is similar to what Mark described),
1st Verification - Badge Access through the front door
2nd Verification - Badge Access AND hand scan that leads you to a man trap
3rd Verification - Actual physical & visual verification by security personal to allow you to pass through the man trap and exit on to the data center floor.

If my ISO9001 audit showed an access badge eliminating #2 hand scanning above & allowed the passthrough door to open in #3, my ISO9001 certification would be revoked and I would be out of business because our clients require that we are ISO9001 certified.

In the end you do not want to tie building entrance & disabling an alarm with one swipe of a card PERIOD. That goes for commercial as well as residential. Security alarms are there for a reason. First line of protection locked Front/Side/Rear entry, second line active alarm.

Morgan stated the following example “Many alarm companies are now offering the convenience of keyfobs for alarms.  It does the exact same thing, disarms the alarm without entering a code.  So what if Mrs. Smith looses her purse?  Now they have her home address AND all her keys/fobs.” Where is the security here? There is none.

Again use a key or fob for the door (1st line of protection) and then manually enter your security code (2nd line of protection). Here is a good example why. Her purse was stolen, now the thief has the key or fob for the door & license and goes to the house and enters, he got through (1st line of protection failed). IF the fob is NOT tied to the security system, the alarm will go off (2nd line of protection worked as it should). If there are cameras they record who the person is and now they have a pic. Not to mention that more then likely the thief has been scared off by the alarm and nothing is stolen. If the fob were to deactivate the security system then motion sensors would be deactivated, cameras would be deactivated as well as the alarm (1st & 2nd line of protection failed). The thief is now in your house and helping himself. GOD FORBID you have a teenage daughter in the house at the same time.

I am sure there will be people out there that will disagree and I really don’t care. You can do what you like with automation and security. All is peaches and cream until an access card/fob is lost/stolen, that allows building access while at the same time disables security, and some one uses it to access a building (commercial or residential) and does some serious damage.

I have made my point.

[ Edited: 04 February 2011 01:07 AM by DigitalStudioWerks ]
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Posted: 04 February 2011 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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@DSW

Points well made.  It sounds like we have had some similar experiences with escalating levels of security as you reach the core of a data center. 

I can say, that I have never actually tied security to a card.  I was arguing that if the building owner wanted to do so, it was possible, as well as reinforce that the cards can be remotely turned off.  I know we can both agree that physical security in a data center is a whole other animal, from standard access at an office, and the is someone is building a Data Center they should only consider hiring a Certified firm like yours.

In reflecting a little more in systems I have been involved with advising on, we set up many cards on a time schedule anyway, so they only work during hours that management has set up.  If the card is lost or stolen, they would have to try and steal everything during business hours, and all the doors have “hold open” alerts if they are propped too long, making large items difficult at best to get out.

In many of those cases as well, there is a “first in” scenario, where no one can get into the building, (even if they have a card and the time is appropriate), if building management or security has not already entered the facility.

I apologize for assuming that your brevity in your first post inferred that you just didn’t understand access control (which you obviously do very well) and its abilities.

I guess just because someone doesn’t give you the basis for their argument initially, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have one.

Best to you and DSW in 2011.

Mark C

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Best and God Bless,

Mark Coxon

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”-Arthur C. Clarke

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Posted: 06 February 2011 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Nice to see that the idea got some good feedback.  Remember though, most homes/businesses do not require ISO anything.  In fact, I have customers that leave their house unlocked and have no security.  That being said - as integrators there are clearly times when our cutomers ask us to do something we advise against.  I suppose now the question is, do you have them sign a disclaimer?  Do you turn down the work?

I think James should be the inspector for every alarm install sold, what percentage do you think would pass?  I’m not saying it makes it right, but I have seen so many “security” installations by the big alarm companies that in my opinion (which is not an ISO9001 opinion) are not secure.  And I understand why, most customers don’t want to pay for the complete package - they are probably just wanting the minimum (front door, back door, 1 motion) so they can get their insurance discount and feel a sense of security.

So to all, and maybe in this case James and Mark, perhaps Lisa if she’s following along: keep selling, keep learning, keep it real.

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Morgan Harman
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Posted: 13 March 2012 12:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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TheTechSource - 31 January 2011 03:47 PM

There is also the classic - have the front gate intercom call your cell phone.  That way when UPS has a drop off, it calls you - you can then enter a code that will open the garage door so they can make the delivery.  When they leave (verified from the web cam) you shut the door from your phone.

How have you guys been able to do this? We are stuck on the old Viking door intercom interface that dials back out on the CO, thanks

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