Wayne Webster, Business Development Manager – Critical Infrastructure Transport, at Abloy UK, discusses the untapped potential that digital security ecosystems offer the rail industry
Historically, the global railway industry has been ahead of the times when it comes to digitisation, and a recent shift towards big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), and an increase in demand
for integration has signalled the sector is ready for change.
Recent developments in innovative web based, wireless and wire-free solutions have the ability to transform the railway industry into a safer and more secure environment, while offering additional data and functionality to make railway infrastructure truly smart.
But with a vast number of outdated legacy systems in place across the UK’s current rail infrastructure, what steps need to be taken to not only upgrade and tighten security, but also reap the additional data benefits that an integrated ecosystem can offer?
Bringing systems up to date
There is an ever-widening disparity of security, safety and access control between modern digital technology used in high-speed railway networks and older mechanical technology used in legacy railway networks.
Older legacy systems based on mechanical technology (locks, padlock, manual key control and logistics) are vastly inferior in operational efficiency, safety and security compared to the modern digital technology available.
Abloy UK can offer a blended solution of mechatronic and mechanical solutions that deliver the benefits of real time access control, data and key control. For example, electro-mechanical systems
that utilise web-based technology can offer a versatile and far superior solution. Systems such as these integrate the mechanical master key system with electronics, they require no external power source to provide precise and cost-effective control over access permissions.
Keys and cylinders are embedded with data encryption technology, including a unique identification code that cannot be altered or duplicated. Access is managed and controlled using web-based software, meaning access rights can be granted or withdrawn swiftly and easily utilising mobile technology.
What about big data?
Retrofitting a system, such as CIPE Manager and CLIQ® onto the UK’s rail infrastructure is stage one of the transition towards smarter railways. However, when it comes to creating an ecosystem and gaining real insight from the data produced, we have just begun to scratch the surface.
The scope of possibilities that digital system integration could offer beyond access control and audit trails is vast. Cloud and web-based manager platforms allow for centralised and
remote access management, meeting the growing demand for large organisations to use cloud-based physical access control systems.
SaaS based solutions offer the simplest way to manage all the software that connects digital technology across the stations, rolling stock and infrastructure, including the convenience of smartphone identification.
But where the real potential lies, is in the data that could be collected throughout the process of a person gaining access to a particular area or asset. When the system allows access to a person with the correct credentials, a number of protocols could be triggered before they can secure and leave the area.
For example, they could be required to record faults and any maintenance work they have carried out, and perform other critical functions such as highlighting remedial works, ordering the required parts and requesting the time in the programme to carry out the works.
This would generate a report to feedback to the central hub, offering a comprehensive overview of not only who has accessed which areas and when, but what happened while they were there and what actions need to be carried out in the future.
The future of railway access control
Having the convenience of an online control centre that can manage all your access rights remotely from anywhere – including a mobile solution – is the future of railway access control. This is what Abloy as a truly global solutions provider brings with its advanced mechanical and electronic security ecosystem, and potential to integrate with external systems and partners.
This is a huge benefit to legacy systems as new technology can be digitally accessed and managed, often with wire-free installation and Bluetooth technology. Installation can be more cost effective and adding additional keys or access points is easier too.
Digital solutions offer a huge breakthrough, adding more control and security while making the system simpler to manage, install and update. Therefore this could be the answer to adding operational excellence and future access management to legacy systems.