Although many security issues are shared between residential and commercial premises, it is business that stands to lose the most in the event of a security breach.

Unlike the intricate and delightful brushstrokes of a Picasso, data (which is virtually invisible) can be worth many times more than the breathtaking   *Les Femmes d’Alger.

And while a hotel break-in, or electronic key fault may not reap any actual loot for the robber, the reputation of a multimillion dollar hospitality chain can be deeply harmed by tales of lax security on social media, while an actual assault loss can virtually close the doors for good.

Security product suppliers have had to adapt to an increasingly diverse range of breaches, designing increasingly complex systems for the changing challenges of design.

It has become almost mandatory for workers to go through their day, wreathed in a lanyard with a seemingly simple swipe card, or dangling ID clipped to their hip. There is more that is going on than meets the eye, with leading companies spending millions on granting or denying access.

Siemens access security system is called SiPass, and is a Windows based system that sits on the client’s server and controls access and alarm management – and actually comes with an Australian design heritage, back from when it was called ASCO.

Now SiPass is a flexible application that can handle up to 500,000 cardholders, which in itself is impressive, but very attractive to the client is the fact that the intelligence behind it is user friendly.

Installation of the software is reported to take just seven clicks, and then it is a matter of what to connect. Options include a single door reader, or a dual reader, or ramp it up to an eight-door reader and so on. And the client retains the choice of what readers to install, including the option to upgrade to biometric identifiers.

Interesting additions to the system include anti-passback reporting, where nonsensical movement of a card reader temporarily cancels any further access. If a worker enters a room once, they can’t enter it a second time without an exit in between.

The system is modular and can be built up to serve many more management roles, including building management, lighting control, OPC server, HLIs etc. Plus multimedia alarm reporting.


In America, finger print scanners are now the modality of tech savvy banks, with Bank of America and Wells Fargo just two who have adopted the system. And while that seems pretty cutting edge, it’s technology that has been superseded by our smart phones. Suddenly even security measures from sci-fi and heist films looks old fashioned.

For the smaller, but perhaps expanding company Allegion offers the combination of the biometric hand reader by Schlage interlinked with the HandNet, a Windows program key reader product that keeps track of what is happening on business premises, or in fact over several premises, utilising the HandNet program.

The coverage comes in stages; starting with as few as five readers, then to 25 readers, to (at the top end of the range) unlimited points, all reporting back to one supervised site.

However, if the link to the main site is for some reason severed (weather be accident or via the hand of something more scurrilous), the individual readers will continue to operate.

The flexibility is an attractive option, with for example the program offering customable features such as short term access of, for example allowing access between certain hours, after which the access is de-programmed - with no need for reception or security to chase missing, physical key cards.

A question often posed is what happens to this collection of unique biometric identifiers. In the Allegion system, the data is stored locally, to reduce hacker access.

Interestingly, most people have not considered how safe their face ID data is – even their face ID on their iPhones. Is it stored in the cloud, and therefor hackable? In fact, no. The iPhone app stores it in the handsets enclave system. But who bothered to ask?


What has been asked billions of times is “did you enjoy your stay?”, the Pavlovian response to any hotel guest requesting a checkout accounting. With each stay dependent on guests feeling, and actually being, secure. A recent article that appeared in Conde Nast traveller magazine quotes Paul Frederick, the former vice president of global security for Starwood as saying only 10 percent of hotel theft occurs in guests’ rooms, the rest happens in common areas such as bars and restaurants. But as far as the guests go, the room theft, the breach of personal security, has the bigger effect.

Dormakaba Australia has been a leader in security access systems of all types, including the lodging sector. With a global reach of 130 countries its experience with access solutions is considerable, and counts in its statistics an annual rate of 500 million guest experiences.

Whether guest rooms, or common areas such as gyms and pools, the Dormakaba electronic locking systems are Bluetooth, low energy devices, and offer the guest the convenience of being controllable by a guest’s own phone, which elevates a customer’s experience and reduces the inconvenience of having to go to reception for a replacement card. It’s the small things that makes guests enjoy their stay, and write glowing reports online.

Ilco and Saflok are the recognisable brand names in the Dormakaba stable and are continually researching the access management needs of hotels and resorts.

The also offer electronic cylinder locks systems, as well as card readers in their hotel access solution packages.

Interestingly, as a side note, hotel security experts also suggest an old school method for reducing hotel room theft; guests should actually put their suitcases out of view and further suggest not trusting the hotel room safe. Got something valuable? Use the hotel’s safe. Curious also is the trend of hospitality linens being encoded with RFID trackers – one imagines that also means the dressing gowns. You have been warned.

Perhaps the sexiest entry system comes from Dormakaba, and that is the Orthos system that initially appears to be a glass revolving door – but is in fact called a personal interlock (PIL) system.

This is top of the range entry where a person has to pass multi layered criteria for access (including weight sensors), and where failure is quite spectacular. Clearly appropriate for monitoring personnel, it also offers a strong deterrent for burglars, and also those malcontents who may like to throw things into a lobby. Things that tick, for instance.

It also brings up the subject and issue of tail-gaiting, where people piggy back onto the access created by a legitimate user. The image of a tail gaiter trying their luck with the Orthos system is laughable.


This is an example, albeit a light-hearted one, of multi layered security. Consider what is at risk in the hospital and healthcare arena and the light-hearted tone dissolves in a puff of nitrous oxide.

Hospitals, churches, refuges all suffer from an identity issue when it comes to security; while wanting to appear open, compassionate and welcoming they need to be secure. Striking a balance is not simple.

Hospitals in particular require many layers of security support – from the lobby’s front door which, in Australia, has zero security, to that required to access wards filled with drugs, interventional suites where complex nuclear technologies reside alongside theatre instruments that cost as much as a car, and of course vulnerable people who often need expedited access, and those who need to be kept against their wishes.

Plus, systems need to be able to communicate speedily in the event of access breach, or indeed a biological threat such as potential contamination, or terrorist threat.

This falls into security management rather than access control, and requires systems that operate within a hierarchical structure; alarm displays, information dispersal, and security of access.

And at the top of all this is a command and control system.

Siemans Siveillance Vantage Control Pro is a good example, bringing multiple stand-alone systems under one emergent umbrella.

Vantage interacts with access control, video surveillance, fire alarms, emergency call systems integrated with a geographical information system, with the option of also displaying physical locations of security personnel to expedite control.

While this has clear application for many industries it also, sadly, has a place in education campuses where violence is not an unknown event.

Image: Jon Moore / Unsplash