Cody Horchak 5 min read

Retrofitting Access Control Part 7: Big Data, Small Investment

This is part 7 of a daily series on challenging conventions in the access control world and retrofitting our perspective on what’s best for people, businesses, buildings, and the world. Click here to start the series from the beginning. Stay tuned for part 8 on administration coming tomorrow.

One of the most difficult aspects of owning, building, and managing properties is our incomplete understanding of how they’re really used. Whether it’s commercial, residential, retail, hospitality, whatever…we are heavily reliant on assumptions when making critical and often expensive decisions on what to build, where to allocate resources, and how to design the best possible experience for users and guests of the structure.

Your portfolio probably holds a goldmine of insights waiting to be uncovered. Fortunately, access to more data is slowly unlocking secrets to the world around us. By updating your access control system, you can tap into those insights and turn them into smarter, more efficient, and cost-effective assets.

The Real Value of Access Control Data

Existing unintelligent access control systems already installed throughout buildings around the world are the only thing standing in the way of a world that would consist of smart, loT-connected buildings. 

These access control systems are years or sometimes decades old and offer limited data to their users. Even when they’re capable of generating some basic data, they’re often unable to quickly or effectively communicate it to another system that can translate the numbers into information. I recently spoke with a portfolio manager for a firm with more than 300 buildings who shared an instance of a property using an intercom and relying on an ancient dial-up modem and DOS interface. You’re just not going to get anything useful out of this kind of system. 

There are modern access control systems that can instantly relay all sorts of useful data. But replacing all these aging access control systems is extraordinarily pricey – not to mention time-consuming and wasteful. So many owners, operators, and managers elect to just keep what they have…even if it means dealing with these archaic systems and missing out on valuable data.

It’s a painful, and expensive, situation to be in. Access control data can deliver a wealth of immediate and long-term benefits to both a property owner, manager, and the people who use a building on any given day. Just a few examples:

Energy Efficiency

Identifying unused parts of a structure in real-time enables you to programmatically shut off lights, HVAC systems, and even water – translating to greener buildings and smaller utility bills.


A faster, more reactive system can quickly identify ongoing security concerns and provide a record for review when investigating previous incidents.

Investment Opportunities 

Understanding how your structure is truly used gives valuable insights into where you can invest further and expand your offerings.

Public Health and Safety

A record of who was where and when in a building is enormously helpful for contact tracing. Smart access systems can also dynamically limit access to a building or room that hits a capacity limit to help enforce social distancing.

User Experience

Imagine driving into a parking garage, walking to an elevator that’s already open and waiting for you, and getting taken straight to your office that is quickly heating up to your preferred temperature. Data and cross-system integration make getting into and through a structure effortless and automatic.

Old Dog, New Tricks

There’s no end to the creative ways access control data can be transformed into real-world value. But all that is dependent on upgrading your outdated access control system to a network that is actually able to gather and communicate all of this data.

Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until you can fit it into your budget and schedule to rip and replace your current access control system to start reaping the benefits. A simple retrofit access control solution can turn that ignorant access control infrastructure into a genius data machine.

It’s like sending your access readers to college – only way cheaper!