Openpath vs. HID Access Control

See why customers prefer Openpath’s cloud-based, touchless access control over legacy HID access control.

HID access control review

In reviewing access control systems for your building or workplace, there are two main categories: legacy on-premises providers or more modern cloud-based solutions. HID Global is a legacy access control provider with a decades-long presence in the industry. HID offers a range of different access control products, including on-premises systems, controllers, readers, and mobile-based options. Both HID and Openpath have mobile credentials that work with smartphone apps, tablet apps, and wearables like the Apple Watch. When comparing access control providers for enterprise or small business, consider the different features and functionality you need now, and will want in the future.

Quick look: key differences between HID access control and Openpath

  • Cloud-based technology: HID is primarily an on-premise legacy provider that is just starting to offer cloud-based options. Not all HID access control systems function with their cloud-based software. Openpath was built as fully cloud-based access control solution, making it more dynamic, flexible, and scalable than an on-premise option. 

  • Reliable touchless entry: HID’s mobile-compatible readers support an in-app unlock, but do not offer a truly hands-free, convenient experience. Openpath’s Wave to Unlock is touchless and hands-free, and is backed by patented Triple Unlock technology for 99.9% unlock reliability, even when the Internet is down.

  • Intuitive software: Openpath cloud-based management software is easy to use, requiring minimal training and onboarding. The interface offers customizable dashboards and add-on features, so you only pay for what you actually use. 

  • Video capabilities: At the time of this HID access control review, the company does not offer any proprietary video surveillance solutions. Customers need to work with a third party VMS and video surveillance provider that has the ability to integrate with HID. Openpath offers out-of-the-box integrations with leading video surveillance providers, as well as Video Readers with a built-in, high-definition camera to combine touchless access with visual verification in a single device.

Openpath’s reliable, future-proof mobile access control

  • Multi-technology readers support mobile, keycards, fobs, RFID and Apple Watch

  • Intuitive, open software platform with remote management, dynamic access permissions, and real-time customizable reporting

  • Built-in, high-definition video capabilities with real-time remote monitoring

  • Powerful safety features for occupancy tracking, anti-tailgating, and emergency lockdown activation

  • Scalable hardware and software that secures a single entry or an entire multisite enterprise with ease

  • Integrates seamlessly with existing security hardware and software via open standards

  • Automatic updates, offline functionality, and encryption at every level

On-premises vs. cloud-based access control

HID is a long-time provider of on-premises access control systems. This technology has been around for decades, relying on on-site servers to run the access control system. There are a few limitations to be aware of with legacy access control. 

  • Compromised security—Legacy access control has not changed for years, meaning hackers and bad actors have had plenty of time to identify weaknesses in the hardware and software. Using decades-old technology puts your business at higher risk for a breach, and makes it difficult to employ the best and newest security enhancements in your building. 

  • Onsite maintenance—On-premises legacy access control systems need in-person maintenance. Every time there’s a problem with the hardware, or you need to update your system, you’ll have to roll up a truck and be there to let the service staff into the building. 

  • Limited flexibility—Legacy systems are often cumbersome when it comes to interoperability. Most legacy hardware products will only support certain types of credentials, limiting your options. In addition, legacy systems are harder to integrate with your IoT devices and applications, as they don’t run on truly open platforms.

  • No central reader management—Because HID door readers are installed “on-the-wall,” they have to be individually configured and updated. Without a centralized management platform, a technician will need to visit each reader at each location for initial setup and any maintenance or upgrades.

A cloud-based access control system solves for all of the above issues. HID does offer some cloud-based products, however you have to pick and choose carefully. Not all of their products are designed for full cloud management, and many still lack the flexibility to integrate with other non-HID systems. 

Going with a more agile, modern system like Openpath ensures you always have the best access control technology and protection available. Openpath was designed for full cloud management, using the most secure encryption available. With instant updates in the cloud, you’ll always be running the most advanced security software on the market, and there’s no need for on-site maintenance or servers. Built on a truly open platform, Openpath is equipped to easily and seamlessly integrate with other applications and systems to customize a security solution for your unique business. Openpath also prioritizes your data security, meeting strict compliance standards and end-to-end encryption at every level.

Discover the award winning design of Openpath Smart Readers

Openpath's sleek multi-technology Smart Readers and Pro Series Video Readers mount flush wherever you need them, and only require minimal space.

Comparing HID readers and hardware

Because HID is a legacy provider, they have a wide range of reader and controller hardware available. However, they are not all compatible, and some are designed for very niche applications. Only specific HID readers support mobile credentials, for example, while others are designed to only work with prox cards. If you choose readers that support the credentials you use right now, be aware that that same hardware may not have the ability to support your future needs. Installing the wrong readers could be a very costly mistake. Nobody wants to have to replace their entire deployment after a year just because the readers no longer support the new functionality in the market. Not to mention, if your technology becomes obsolete, you’re increasing the risk of a security threat at your building.

An easy way to future-proof your building’s physical security is to use a system with a simplified product line. Openpath products are designed to be multifunctional, and support all the credential types you need now, plus the technology that will be available in the future. Openpath Smart Readers support wave-to-unlock capabilities, plus mobile credentials via the smartphone app (iOS and Android), tablet apps, Apple Watch, plus encrypted keycards and fobs. Don’t want to part with your old credentials just yet? Openpath is backwards compatible with legacy systems, giving you added flexibility.

Another factor to consider when choosing access control hardware is style. Many legacy providers are still using bulky gray bricks for their readers. If you’re trying to give your office an upscale, elevated look, your access control should be equally sleek. Openpath’s Smart Readers are award-winning for design. Slim and streamlined, the 11mm profile easily mounts wherever it’s needed, and comes in both Standard and Mullion for your convenience. 

Access control and video surveillance with HID

For organizations that want to add visual verification to their security system, HID access control solutions do not have any built-in video capabilities. Installing additional security cameras and using a third-party video management system is required with an HID security system. This means additional hardware at the door, plus separate systems for video surveillance monitoring and access control. 

For a more integrated solution, a platform like Openpath offers multi-technology door readers with a built-in camera. The benefit of this type of system is that you get live, high-definition video of every access event, directly where it occurs. Only one device is needed, and all the reporting is monitored in a single, remotely accessible dashboard. Openpath also integrates with the leading commercial VMS providers, including Cisco Meraki, Rhombus Systems, Camio, Milestone, and Ava. Plus, the cloud-based access control software means you can monitor any number of locations or buildings all from a single device. 

Touchless access control capabilities

With mobile credentials quickly becoming an expectation for the modern workplace, make sure your access control system supports this access method. Many providers claim to support mobile credentials and offer a “touchless” or “hands-free” functionality, but it’s not always the case. HID’s mobile access pass works by users either tapping a button in the app to unlock a door, or by turning their phone in a twist motion in front of the reader. Not only are neither of these methods touchless or hands-free, they aren’t convenient. Having to dig your phone out of your pocket or purse, unlock it, open the app, and then find the door you want to open is time consuming and inefficient. Similarly, the twist to unlock method is not intuitive, and still requires a user to have their phone in-hand for it to function. 

For a truly touchless and hands-free experience, Openpath released a unique wave-to-unlock feature. Openpath’s patented Triple Unlock technology ensures a fast, reliable unlocking experience, even with contactless unlocking methods. Unlike other access control companies' entry experience, the app doesn’t need to be open for the reader to recognize the device, and users can leave their phone in their pocket or bag the whole time. Just wave a hand in front of the reader, and you’re in. Openpath’s touchless access control also works alongside keycard and fob credentials, creating a flexible system that works at every level of your organization.

Access control user experience and reliability

Cloud security and mobile credentials aren’t the only important factors when reviewing access control systems. The system should be easy to use, and needs to be reliable. Make sure that the system you choose is compatible with the devices your employees and tenants use, and that the unlock experience is consistent. If your staff can only unlock the door 80% of the time, you’re going to have a lot of complaints coming your way. While HID does offer mobile credentials, not all HID readers have 100% compatibility with the most common mobile devices. With HID’s system, Apple devices have inconsistent reliability via Bluetooth depending on the device. The HID mobile access app is also not fully compatible with all Android devices, with only limited Bluetooth reliability.

Part of the problem is that many access control providers build their product for the administrative teams and installers, rather than the people who use them every day. Openpath was designed for both. While the management and installation are simple and straightforward, the user experience was of equal weight in deciding how the product would look and function. The mobile app is simple and easy to navigate, and the unlocking experience is completely frictionless. 

But it’s not just about aesthetics. The technology also needs to work. Openpath uses patented Triple Unlock technology, which races Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular signals for every unlock request. Whichever signal reaches the reader first unlocks the door. This makes for a fast unlock experience—and every second counts when you’re trying to open the door in a downpour. Plus, Openpath’s access control features fail safes and backup power options, so it still works even if the Internet is down, during a power outage, or the cell service is spotty. When reliability matters most, Openpath provides a consistent user experience.

Enterprise access control features

Access control for enterprise applications brings a unique set of challenges. With hundreds or thousands of users across multiple locations, selecting an access control provider that can centralize and streamline your operations is essential. HID offers legacy access control features for enterprise, including badge printing and traditional fob-based access methods. For enterprise businesses who want added flexibility to scale access control with their organization, make sure your system can keep up. You’ll want to choose an access control provider with a range of controller options to fit all your deployments. Whether you need to secure a multi-floor building with destination dispatch elevators, or just need to add a new server room to your system, your provider should have cost-effective options for you. 

Openpath offers a full line of access control hardware that’s scalable, including a Single Door Controller, elevator boards, and 4-door and 8-door Smart Hubs. These products are designed to be modular, making it easy to add or remove entries on your network whenever you need to. In addition, Openpath offers a robust enterprise software management package, designed specifically to cater to the needs of multi-site businesses. Including the award-winning Flexible Lockdown solution for proactive emergency response, granular site-specific permissions, and a Rules Engine to create custom event triggers, the Openpath Premium Package helps businesses streamline their access control management with modern, cloud-based software. Openpath’s annual subscription fees are also less expensive for large enterprise businesses, as HID charges per user for their mobile access control systems.

Another consideration for enterprise businesses is visitor management. HID offers a separate visitor management platform in addition to their access control. However, the guest credentials are still keycard based, and visitor sign-in is still done on a communal kiosk. While these experiences are expected, they don’t offer added convenience or safety, especially in the current environment. Openpath includes digital visitor passes, which allow admins to send a Guest Access Link by text, email, or via a messaging app like Slack or Facebook messenger. The guest’s Cloud Key credential works just like the Openpath mobile credentials, with fully customizable permissions to limit when, where and how long the guest will have access. This tool is great for admins managing visitors remotely, as they don’t even need to be on-site to let someone into the building. Integrate Openpath with your tenant management platform to enable digital sign-in for a completely contactless visitor experience, too.

The Ultimate Guide to Access Control

Learn everything you need to successfully future-proof your physical access control system with this complete resource.

Features for COVID-19 preparedness

As more workplaces begin to reimagine their office spaces in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, access control technology can help make reopening safely a reality. Legacy systems often lack the agility to quickly make technology upgrades in response to emergencies or developing situations. With hardware and software that require on-site management, and a limited number of available integrations, legacy access control providers are not well-equipped to adapt to new challenges.

An open architecture and cloud-based system allows providers to pivot quickly, paving the way for innovative solutions to meet necessary precautions and protocols in the new normal. From reducing common touch points, enforcing social distancing, and accommodating a remote workforce, technology solutions help ease the burden on administrative and IT teams during challenging times. Openpath quickly deployed contactless technology and occupancy tracking features for all clients, which can be activated over the cloud. With no need to be on-site to update the system or activate the safety features, the cloud-based platform empowers businesses to take the needed steps to safeguard their workplaces.

To provide a complete security solution for safely returning to work, Openpath partnered with 15+ leading technology companies. With a suite of robust safety and wellness features powered by seamless integrations on an open platform, Openpath allows businesses to connect their access control to video surveillance, capacity sensors, wellness verification forms, and contact tracing solutions. 

Alternatives to HID access control

If you prefer a more modern access control provider over the legacy options, Openpath offers a wide range of features and capabilities to fit your needs. With hardware that’s designed to be fully scalable and modular, you can easily secure a single door, and up to hundreds of entries across locations. The cloud-based software features offer remote management capabilities, which is great for enterprise businesses looking to centralize their operations. Openpath’s open platform seamlessly integrates with all the tools you use to run your business today, and will use in the future. Plus, with everything managed online, you get the most up-to-date software and security instantly, with no face-to-face communication required. With Openpath, you get reliable, convenient access control with advanced security features to protect your most valuable assets.

To learn more about Openpath and schedule a free virtual demo, contact our team.

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