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Emerging PACS Technologies Cards & Readers
Cloud computing and Near Field Communications (NFC) may hold promise for advances in PACS
operations at airports. This could have an impact on next generation credentials. NFC is emerging with a
wide variety of use cases; some are PACS-related. At the time of this writing it is too early to define this as
a trend; however, it is an example of an emerging technology. Both of these technologies are still in the
development stage; standards are being developed by NIST and other industry organizations.
Near Field Communication
The adoption of Near Field Communications (NFC)-enabled smartphones and other mobile devices for
physical and logical access control, combined with the ongoing evolution of federal identity standards,
offers a number of important potential advantages for airport operators. The ability to carry multiple digital
keys on NFC smart phones is a convenient approach that may become useful in an airport security program.
This efficient approach offers expanded identity issuance, usage and management options which may lower
cost and increase user adoption.
Cloud Computing in Physical Security
The seeds of cloud computing in the physical security industry can actually be traced back over 40 years to
the alarm monitoring industry, which uses central stations to provide shared services for millions of homes
and business. This model made it possible for the expense and complexity of 24-hour security services to
be shifted away from individual facility operators to providers who could deliver such services at lower
cost and higher quality.
It has security risks; however, when using Physical Access Control (PACS) as a service in this case, all
applications and databases for one or several airports and airport tenants may reside in a single data center
and provide services to system administrators using common Web browsers and mobile devices. On-
premise devices such as control panels, readers and cameras are securely networked back to this data center
via internal and/or external IP networks such as the Internet. This architecture provides for centralized
administration of all facilities under a single “security umbrella”, with consistent policies and reporting. It
also eliminates the need for dedicated on-site workstations and servers.
Cloud computing comes in Private Cloud or Public Cloud solutions. The public cloud is provisioned for
open use by the public and is the most common solution but may expose the software to malware, hackers,
and other threats. Private clouds, where the cloud infrastructure is provisioned for exclusive use by a single
organization comprising multiple consumers may provide more controlled environment.
One of the key innovations in Software-as-a -Service (SaaS) is software multi-tenancy. This architecture is
designed to provide the data segregation, concurrency, and cyber security that are needed to leverage a
common infrastructure for multiple tenants.
The key architectural feature of multi-tenant software systems is the use of a single, common infrastructure
that is shared across all systems. This common infrastructure is what allows these system owners to enjoy
the economies of scale that reduce the total cost of ownership for all users of the system.
Typically, the shared computing resources include servers, storage devices, and network equipment such
as load balancers and firewalls. Spreading the cost of these components across multiple airports makes them
less expensive for each facility, while centralizing maintenance and operational functions. Some of the
potential benefits of SaaS for the physical security manager may be the same as those for other industries
shifting to cloud computing:
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