BACnet standards: Access control

Sunday, April 1, 2007

DALLAS--The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers in February released for public review a set of proposals that add physical access control to the existing standards for building automation and control. Upon approval, the new access control standards will be integrated into BACnet (also known as ANSI/ASHRAE 135-2004), a data communication protocol for building automation and control networks. According to ASHRAE, it is an American national standard, a European pre-standard, a Japanese standard, a Chinese standard and an ISO global standard.
The access control standards came out of the Life Safety and Security Working Group, convened by David Ritter, access control project manager at Delta Controls. The group developed eight specific proposals for the following pieces of an access control system: access door object, access point object, access zone object, access user object, access credential object, access rights object, authentication factor input object and the access event algorithm. The proposals are posted at and input from the security industry and members of the installation community as a whole are welcome and expected.
It is ASHRAE's belief that, once approved, these will represent the first comprehensive access control standards.
"Hirsch has seen this coming all along," said Rob Zivney, vice president of marketing for access control manufacturer Hirsch Electronics and a member of ASHRAE's life safety and security working group. "Those who've ignored it will be at a disadvantage ... There are significant players that are involved and committed." He said those companies include HID, Siemens, Integrated Control Systems, Delta Controls and others.
Leon Chlimper, vice president of systems for Bosch Security, said Bosch has a long history with BACnet in the HVAC and building controls market, but will take something of a wait-and-see approach with the access control standard. "It's not that we're shying away from it," he said, "but we want to develop further our TCP/IP protocols for access control ... and when we need to integrate with BACnet language, we'll use the hooks we have right now, which we've been doing."
Brad Lierman, president of IT/physical security integrator Fuller Engineering, based in Carmel, Ind., said, "we've been asked a number of times" about using BACnet in security applications, and his company currently uses it often with building control applications. "I do think [the security industry] should embrace it," he said. "As much information as can be traded from system to system, the better the systems can be and the more useful to the end user." Also, he said, "I definitely think you can trust it going forward. We sell a lot of products in other markets, and we see BACnet in every product line we're involved in."
"When [BACnet] first came out, the end users were demanding it," Zivney said. "Manufacturers had to do it. The first adopters were the smarter companies using it as a chance to differentiate themselves." Of course, BACnet is just one of many standards' pushes in the security industry. SIA, for example, recently released video standards and is working on access for the end of 2007.