Essential security and operational efficiency in the changing landscape of telecom infrastructure

Abloy’s Steve Wintle shares his views

Read this article to learn:

  • Who Abloy are and details of their new CIPE Manager
  • Examples of where Abloy is aiding telecoms clients to drive operational efficiencies across the portfolios
  • How towercos need to address access control challenges as their assets and services diversify
  • Lessons that the telecoms sector can learn from other industries
  • Details of Abloy’s upcoming roundtable at the 2021 TowerXchange Meetup Europe

Having recently launched their new CIPE Manager, a map-based access management application which connects to their current digital product portfolio, TowerXchange caught up with Abloy UK’s Head of Critical Infrastructure to discuss the evolving security challenges that the telecoms space is facing and how the industry can address these and learn from other sectors.

TowerXchange: Please can you re-introduce Abloy to our readers as well as share any recent product updates from the company?

Steve Wintle, Head of CI, Abloy UK: Today’s society demands that critical infrastructure delivers uninterrupted services 24/7, but at the same time, every sector is also under permanent threat from both physical and cyber security attacks. ABLOY is known for its specialisation in high-level security solutions, and that is why Critical Infrastructure, including the telecom sector, is one of our focus areas. We help our partners secure and streamline access management to their sites, and at the same time boost their business operational efficiency.

We recently launched our latest innovation CIPE Manager. This highly visual, map-based access management application connects with our digital portfolio including our keyless solution ABLOY BEAT, electromechanical solution and mechanical master key systems. All our access management solutions can be added to our customer’s existing workflow or integrated with 3rd party systems.

TowerXchange: How do you help your clients to drive efficiencies across their operations? Can you share some success stories?

Steve Wintle, Head of CI, Abloy UK: Towers and networks are often located in remote and geographically dispersed locations. At the same time, each employee, contractor, access point, restricted area and perimeter needs to be robustly secured and monitored remotely – under any circumstances. We help our customers streamline their access management, key control and logistics with transparent access and audit trails. These are the fundamentals for operational efficiency, which eventually, reduce the total cost of ownership and improve towercos’ return on investment.

Nowadays our clients are having several independent systems that do not communicate with each other, this is a challenge from the operative point of view. Therefore, integrations can bring additional benefits to the towerco operations, when operational workflow works smoothly with minimised manual input. For example, with our electromechanical CLIQ solution and our partner’s Genetec Security Center the tower company can control access seamlessly: the Genetec system automatically checks if a person requesting access is qualified to work on a certain site, e.g. high voltage areas or towers. This kind of integrated solution streamlines the access management, but also implements health and safety policies and maintains compliance.

TowerXchange: Which clients do you work with, both inside and outside of the telecoms sector, globally and within Europe specifically?

Steve Wintle, Head of CI, Abloy UK: In the telecom sector, we have an honour to work with over than 150 telecom customers around the globe. For example, currently we are collaborating with Orange France at their offices, where ABLOY Electric Locks serve their day-to-day operations by providing convenient access together with their access control system.

If we think about sectors outside of telecom, we have been a trusted partner in water and energy sectors for decades – both in Europe and Global markets. We have a long collaboration with utility providers like Eau de Valence (France), Northumbrian Water (UK), Electricity North West (UK) and Helsinki Energy (Finland), just to mention a few. There are lot of similarities in security and access management between all of the sectors, and many things can be learned from them.

TowerXchange: As towercos continue to transition from a pure macro-tower play to the management of adjacent assets and services such as smart poles, in-building solutions, fibre, edge datacentres and active networks how will their access control requirements change and how is Abloy positioned to support them on this journey?

Steve Wintle, Head of CI, Abloy UK: I see that in the not too distant future, telecoms, energy and transportation sectors will need to become very tightly connected as more electric powered vehicles and especially autonomous vehicles become the norm. The increase in data and energy required will become critical in terms of quality and volume therefore adding value and volume. Therefore, the importance for towercos to know their suppliers have the knowledge, experience and the evolutionary solutions to deliver true control and management of a wide variety of assets is also crucial to cope with the move towards a wider communication infrastructure and energy demand.

There are many different assets and each asset may have different requirements for the access management technology. That is why it is important to have complete solutions portfolio achieving different standards across global markets. Also, having the research and manufacturing capability for custom made products to work in conjunction with other OEM solutions: whether it is a new configuration of existing components or a totally new product, our teams are able to take the challenge.

As a global manufacturer, we constantly work with the customer to understand their needs in the ever-evolving sector. That makes our solutions future-proof and gives an ability to develop new solutions for the sector on a global level.

TowerXchange: Digitalisation of operations is a major focus for tower owners at present. How does Abloy’s solution plug into other towerco systems and workflows to aid in improving operational efficiencies?

Steve Wintle, Head of CI, Abloy UK: Modern cloud based SaaS solutions offer easy integration with other systems. In our case, it means that the access management solution is working seamlessly with the other systems as part of the operational workflow, delivering more automation so the client does not have to worry about manual daily involvement, allowing the routine tasks to happen routinely. More and more work integration capabilities are the focus of both current and future development for ABLOY. ABLOY solutions are integrated into approximately 50 systems annually.

With stretched shared resources, the managing of planned or intermittent access and the ability to control and manage contractors is even more challenging. Automation through digitalisation greatly simplifies this process whilst ensuring individuals competencies are linked with their rights of access. In addition to running automated audit reports, highlighting anomalies or to provide evidence of who has access to critical assets, it also allows for verification of completed works and greater transparency in billing delivering genuine operational efficiencies without compromising the physical security required for the asset protection.

TowerXchange: What lessons do you think that the telecoms sector can learn from other industries in the management of large portfolios of distributed assets?

Steve Wintle, Head of CI, Abloy UK: Utilities operate in a large area, with dispersed sites in the middle of nowhere – just like telecom infrastructure. We have been in situations, where for example, a water company might not know all of their assets they have and where they are located exactly. Finding the sites causes a lot of waste in the time and human resources. With our CIPE Manager they can easily visualise where the assets are located, the status of the lock and who was the last person who attended site. That makes finding sites easier for both the staff and external subcontractors and quickly visualising the security status.

TowerXchange: What do you feel differentiates Abloy from other providers of access management systems in the market?

Steve Wintle, Head of CI, Abloy UK: Our clients can trust that the service and quality they get is the same everywhere around the globe: we have over 110 years of experience in the security market and a strong experience and proven reliable solutions across the core sectors of National Critical Infrastructure. As a global solution provider our comprehensive support is provided by Abloy’s worldwide distribution and service network, as well as regional competence centres.

Also, one single system with keyless, electromechanical and mechanical options assists in meeting the demand and regulations for secure, uninterrupted telecom network service during all upgrades, expansion and maintenance.

TowerXchange: You will host a roundtable conversation “Site security and access control in a 5G era”. Who would you recommend to join the conversation?

Steve Wintle, Head of CI, Abloy UK: The 5G mobile networks will be changing the landscape of infrastructure and the items that need to be secured. Therefore, the owners of infrastructure will need different ways to grant access to their ever-increasing number of stakeholders that need access to their numerous sites.

I recommend to join anyone, who is looking for:
1) Connected future and increased operational efficiency
2) Find flexible ways to protect the site and grant 3rd party access
3) Ways how to keep people safe and stay compliant in the industry

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