Access control can be intimidating for the uninitiated. There are wires, lots of them, and relays, and something called a firewall, and permissions, shifts, credentials, active directory and the list of nondescript technical terms continues. If technicalities are not your thing, as they are not mine, wrapping your head around access control can be difficult…..but it does not have to be. To help sort through some of the difficult questions, and explain the technical complications to a laymen like myself, I sat down with our Head of Technical Support, Alex Ezverov, and picked his brain about all things access control.
Q: Access control seems unapproachable with all the required knowledge about wiring, AC and DC power and all the different functionality in the software. What do you think are the most difficult parts of access control?
A: There are some technical aspects to a good access control system, but most of that is in the programming of the software – everything customer facing is simple, intuitive and easy to troubleshoot with the proper training. The most difficult part is probably just becoming familiar with the software. There is so much functionality, most of which is underutilized – so really learning how to get the most out of our software is crucial because it gives you the tools and indicators for troubleshooting any issue.
We offer free weekly webinars on the software basics, which you can sign up for on the website. For a deeper dive we are happy to set up a specific webinar for anyone interested.
Q: You talk to installers, end users, technical and nontechnical people all day. What are the most common questions you get?
A: The most common questions usually relate to door connectivity and software hiccups. A few of the most common are:
- “My reader shows green, but the door doesn’t open, what is going on?”
This is usually as simple as pushing firmware to the door and can be fixed in our software. Go to Tools -> Firmware Updater -> Select Door and click Start Firmware Update. Nine times out of ten this will fix the issue. If the door still does not open with a valid credential or through the software manually, than the problem is likely mechanical, or power related, and will have to be handled on site by an installer.
- “The software is giving me a ‘Reject W1’, what does that mean?”
Reject W1 means that the credential presented at the reader is not allowed access to that door. This is usually a good sign; it means that the software’s permissions are working properly. But if that person does in fact need access to that door and is in the proper group, then the door needs a quick update. Go to Configure -> Card Holder Permissions -> click Activation and select the door in the ID column, click Activate Now.
- “How do I add a credential and make it work at the door?”
I get this question a lot! The quickest way is to navigate to Configure -> Card Holder and enter First and Last Name, click Add. Continue to Add/Search Credentials at the top of the window and enter the Card Number or PIN and the Facility Code. To check if this was successful go back to Configure -> Card Holder Permissions, and there should be at least one permission that reads: 24X7 > All > Company > End User Name. Click the third tab Activation and click the Select All checkbox, then click Active Now and wait until all doors say “successful”.
There are more advanced ways to add credentials but for one offs this is the most efficient way.
- “Why do some doors say, “Not Connected” and show a “Red X”?
The dreaded Red X. This usually means one of two things.
When the machine your software is on goes to sleep, or it gets an automatic update, it can interrupt its BNS service (BlueLink Network Service). The BNS is responsible for all communication with the doors. My advice for this problem is my advice for almost all problems….. turn it off, wait, turn it back on. At the top of the software click the green Stop button. Then click the Start button and start BNS back up. It might take a few minutes to regain connectivity, but all the “Red X’s” should go away.
The second common reason for Red X’s is a power outage, a power sruge, or if the software is power cycled and the doors remain disconnected, a firmware update might be needed. Again, go to Tools, Firmware Updater, select the problem door and Click Start Firmware Updater. This will clear all the credentials and door schedules, then automatically re-push everything back to the doors.
If neither of these helps than there might be an issue with the controller or power and it will require an installer to work with a BlueWave Tech over the phone to determine the appropriate fix, or if a part is needed.
Q: I often hear about Bluetooth and wireless solutions for cameras and door access, it seems like they are quite popular. What are your thoughts on a wireless system?
A: Wireless is an appropriate option for some small businesses and private residences – but for bigger buildings, with concrete and numerous doors, I would recommend an Ethernet based system. I would suspect that most IT Professionals agree with me on that. In theory a wireless system is versatile, convenient and easy to maintain, but in practice the opposite is true. Latency and reliability prove to be major pitfalls, whereas an ethernet system runs quickly and reliably no matter what. When there is intellectual property, or lives at stake, I would always recommend an Ethernet solution.
Q: Because all systems require installation, there is an element of human error involved. What are some tips that you would offer for installation that come up a lot on your end?
A: I often get troubleshooting calls that end up being loose or incorrectly terminated wires. That is probably the single biggest thing. We include wiring directions in every door kit we send out, so a quick study of that is a great place to start.
Another major issue is power! Sometimes there is not enough power/amps at the door to power the hardware there. This is a tricky one because different hardware has different power pull – but doing some research ahead of time will usually alleviate any headaches here. Also, when in doubt you can always consult us here at BlueWave.
Q: In your opinion, what is the trickiest part of Access Control overall?
A: If I had to narrow it down, I would say familiarity with the software. If you don’t know how to use the tools at your disposal, they are going to seem complicated, and I run in to that a lot. With our system, because it is built for forward and backward compatibility, it lasts quite a long time, and often the original administrator leaves, and the new administrator inherits a system they have no idea how to run. I am always happy to help people learn the basics, and we offer weekly webinars and software trainings for more of a deep dive.
Once you are comfortable with the software, you can automate almost all the daily functions and reporting, making your job easier by several orders of magnitude.