5 Ways Access Control Is Changing Post COVID-19
Guest Post By: Michael Gips
Sometimes it takes extraordinary events to change a security paradigm. 9-11 redefined aviation security. The 2011 Fukushima incident upended security at nuclear facilities. Mandiant’s 2013 report on China’s cyberespionage activities led antivirus software makers to tailor their wares for zero-day attacks. And the passage of the GDPR by the European Union radically altered how data is collected and stored.
Covid-19 is causing a similar paradigm shift in how access control is perceived and deployed. Once seen as only a security measure, access control’s purpose has evolved to include safety during Coronavirus. Here are the five ways Covid-19 is transforming access control and workplace security.
1. Face Recognition
Face recognition may be the biometric that has benefited the most from the pandemic. Touchless and frictionless, the technology is almost completely passive. A user need only position their face in front of a camera to unlock a door or access a computer network. Unlike sister technologies such as touchless fingerprints, hand geometry, and iris and retina scanning, facial recognition requires no special activity. Nor does it present issues for users with their arms full, and doesn’t involve directing beams into their eyes.
Sometimes users refuse to enroll into face recognition systems. They fear that their image will be used without their consent. In truth, in access control systems, face recognition is better described as face authentication. The system identifies points on the face and converts that pattern into a data signature, or template. When an approved user presents their face to a reader, the system converts their face into data and matches it with the template in the database. Moreover, good systems accommodate for the few people who opt out, such as providing a mobile-access alternative.
2. Mobile Access
Beyond being an alternative method for camera-shy users, mobile access technologies are burgeoning in their own right in light of Covid-19. In a time where people want to touch as little as possible, doing away with access cards is a welcome development. Moreover, staff lose cards. This requires them to borrow cards reserved for visitors, which may have been recently touched and not cleaned. Lost cards must also result in replacement costs and hassles. Finally, cloning cards is extremely easy, so eliminating the need for key cards can increase safety and security. Since people rarely go anywhere without their smartphones, keyless entry options are gaining in popularity. Also, mobile access and facial recognition can provide two-factor authentication for higher security.
3. Video Intercom and Visitor Management
Visitor management systems — software that schedules, documents, and manages the arrival, presence, and departure of guests — are adapting to Coronavirus by going touchless. They can also assist in contact tracing. Providers are adapting their solutions to ask guests about their health, travel, and possible exposure to COVID-19. New options can require guests to verify their responses with a signature. Preregistration requirements can also inform and update visitors about new procedures for arrival, health check, distancing, elevator occupancy, and the like. These latter features can also be implemented for staff.
Organizations wishing to keep the main office entry locked can post an intercom at the entrance. That way, the receptionist or admin can communicate with visitors before granting access to the door or building. If the receptionist lacks a clear view of visitors or is working offsite, a video intercom with two-way calling can receive video doorbell calls from a mobile phone or web browser.
4. Cloud-Based Systems
Cloud-based access controls allow organizations to manage site security from anywhere. This is relevant now because many businesses are working remotely and buildings are sitting empty. Cloud-based access systems provide remote management for visitors, deliveries, and employees. Admins don’t need to be onsite to let anyone into the building, but can grant access remotely from anywhere. Also, by not having a system on site, organizations reduce costs, eliminate upgrade hassles, and benefit from easier integration.
5. Health Screening and Health Checks
Coronavirus has completely transformed what access control and visitor management systems are expected to do, notably by bringing health screening and temperature checks into the equation. Today’s cutting-edge systems leverage facial recognition to aid contact tracing, mask usage, and compliance with health questionnaires and temperature checks. Some systems include — or integrate with — employee COVID screenings that feature inventory and allocation management of personal protective equipment, employee scheduling for staggered shifts, and capacity planning for social distance enforcement. In the post COVID-19 world, workplace security protocols and procedures look very different from what we are used to and detailed plans should include CDC recommended cleaning and hygiene guidelines, updated sick leave policies, and increased IT infrastructure to mitigate insider threats.
Michael Gips, JD, CPP, CSyP, CAE has written almost 1,000 articles and columns on virtually every topic in security.
As a contributing writer at Swiftlane, he develops content surrounding the future of access control as well as specific topics around touchless, hands-free entry solutions.
Michael is currently the principal of Global Insights in Professional Security, LLC, a firm that helps security providers develop cutting-edge content, assert thought eadership, and heighten brand awareness in a crowded marketplace.