JUST released by BQT is SmaX, an access control solution that uses smart field devices as bridges between entry points and local or remote browser-based PCs. The thinking behind this solution is excellent with a focus on ease of use and economy.Best of all, when you test drive the system you quickly discover that one of the nicest things about SmaX is the browser-based user interface. It’s both easy and invigorating to use – in fact it’s one of the nicest access control GUIs we’ve seen. The key point of difference between SmaX and other access control systems is that there are no traditional door controllers located in the field. Typically a door controller demands a lot of work from the installer and eliminating this layer of control makes access control solutions both easier to install and more affordable for end users to buy. All this sounds great but there are challenges. Door controllers have an important function in that they provide an access control solution with the distributed intelligence to support a number of access control points in the event of failure of the network or the head end. The door controller doesn’t just store a database of the system’s access credentials and authorized users – the door controller delivers power and backup power as well as passing on alarm signals and information about the state of doors. What all this means is that while door controllers are complicated and expensive, they’re like that for a reason. And it’s in a bid to change this status quo that BQT has developed SmaX. System structureAt the doors any Weigand reader types are supported. Each door is supported by a single Secure Relay Module (SRM), a remote device that handles access control decisions as well as talking to the SmaX system. Most importantly, the SRM is able to manage its local door all alone so failure will only ever impact on a single door rather than 4 doors. No matter what failures upset the network upstream of the SRM security will not be compromised and the access control system will retain its functionality. The SRM is able to support 2000 cards and 8000 transactions, with events uploaded to the system from the SRM once network or hardware failure has been taken care of. The SRM is powered by 12V DC and it has four 2-state inputs and 3 open collector outputs. Offline events are stored in flash memory and the SRM has 64 time slots and up to 8192 rolling audit logs. Supporting the system’s network of SRMs over an RS485 network are Intelligent Site Controllers (ISCs), with 30 SRMs per ISC. The ISC is managed by an embedded Linux server and it provides a web interface for managing the SmaX system. The ISC is where the SmaX database is stored (you can use periodical backup to a remote NAS or workstation). The ISC’s Compact Flashdatabase can be upgraded to 1GB.In terms of operation, the ISC can be accessed by any workstation via LAN or WAN and this makes the SmaX a very flexible access control solution straight out of the box with no need for expansion options. Depending on the nature of the system you’d be installing an ISC per floor, or an ISC per building or per site. On larger or more complicated sites you just add another ISC onto the RS-485 LAN. Once ISC numbers get above 3 you need to slot in a head-end server to amplify communications and overcome the data signal attenuation inevitable with larger cable plants. System managementManagement of the system is handled by any authorized PC anywhere in the world via a browser GUI. Security is obviously important and operators are issued with usernames, passwords and privileges allowing them to control site functions and features. Operator access is tiered so only authorised operators can handle add, modify or delete data, while they may be able to view the Live Event Monitor. This Live Event Monitor which provides a visual audit of cardholders and live events as they take place, is the heart of the system. Live Event Monitor shows movement of cardholders, access attempts and forced doors. It’s a very neat system. Depending on configuration, the system can thrown up a photo of personnel as they access the building, or doors in the building, along with details of the access event. Also important in terms of system management are reports which can show any details from time and attendance through to payroll and human resource management. Customised reports can be generated relating to individual cardholders, doors, sites, periods of time, operators and logs in the system. It’s also possible to customize fields that can then be used to generate reports. Other features of the management software include construction of entry and exit points in zones, time zones, access rules, personnel files, holidays and site settings. The SmaX GUI also allows authorized operators to add or delete access devices like card readers from the system.This new system from BQT Solutions is designed to mesh perfectly with modern networked infrastructure. It’s as ideal for small and medium access solutions as it is for larger. SmaX takes distributed access control to the single door level – most door controllers handle 4 doors at a time. Another significant strength of the system is that it can be managed and monitored from any networked location anywhere in the world. Then there’s that delightfully easy to use GUI – it’s both informative and simple at the same time. This a strong release from BQT that’s likely to get plenty of interest from users seeking an access solution built with networking in mind.