Going mobile with access control
You can’t go anywhere these days without seeing a mobile device in someone’s hand. According to Gartner, smartphone sales reached $1.3 billion in 2014. On the tablet side, Gartner also predicts that 321 million tablets will ship by the end of 2015. In a 2012 study, Forrester Research indicated that nearly 60 percent of all corporate employees shared, accessed and managed content outside of the office through mobile devices.
We’ve also seen security operators switching from using two-way radios to using their mobile devices to monitor property and respond to critical events.
These trends tell us how much time we spend on mobile devices and how mobile technology is shaping the way we manage and use various systems we connect to on a daily basis.
For example, we now have the ability to quickly assess, view and respond to and manage events being monitored by access control systems from a single smart device. This enhancement provides a new realm of management capabilities at our disposal.
If you are considering integrating mobile devices into your access control system, here are four points to consider.
1. Browser-based access control
Many access control systems offer application-based mobile integration, meaning you use apps loaded on a mobile device to interact with the system. However, sometimes these apps are designed with limited features and capabilities.
Avigilon’s Access Control Manager (ACM) offers users a 100 percent browser-based access control system with full manageability, no matter what type of mobile device you use, allowing security personnel to respond to critical events.
Not only is a browser-based access control system more flexible (you can use a smartphone, tablet or laptop computer), but it streamlines operations by allowing multiple operators to connect to it simultaneously. In addition, any changes to the system are instantaneous and shared across all operators.
When it comes to mobile devices and access control, system operators should be able to use the device of their choice – your access control system should not limit operators to a particular device. ACM is browser-based, which means you can access it from anywhere, including from mobile devices.
2. Management and distribution of credentials
Access control credentials have changed over the years. In the past, physical objects such as keys, magnetic strip cards, radio frequency identification (RFID) cards or proximity cards were commonly used to enable access to a building. Today, credential technology has evolved to mobile devices using near field communication (NFC) and Bluetooth technologies.
Using mobile devices as access credentials is gaining popularity because physical objects are more easily lost, forgotten, borrowed or misplaced, creating potential security risks.
What will we see in the future? People will be able to use one phone with a mobile credential to connect to a virtual private network (VPN), a wireless network, a corporate intranet, a cloud/Web-based application, single-sign-on clients and other IT resources. While there is a movement to have access control credentials added to mobile devices, physical and mobile credentials will continue to co-exist for quite some time.
One of the key issues is how to secure the credential on the mobile device.
NFC is not available on all smartphones and uses a tap-and-go method of operation, which requires physical contact of the phone to an access control reader. Also, some mobile providers have made it difficult to successfully deploy NFC technology across a single operating system.
Bluetooth technology, on the other hand, is available on both Android and Apple devices and does not require physical contact with the reader to operate. For example, you can use Bluetooth to open electronic doors and gates using a “twist-and-go gesture” – rotating the device as you approach – up to 30 feet away from the reader.
In addition, Bluetooth technology used in combination with ACM’s mustering feature delivers an emergency personnel assembly tracker and locator, which can help ensure your staff are not left in dangerous areas.
3. Multiple layers of authentication
When deciding whether to use mobile devices as an access control credential, it is important to consider adding multiple layers of authentication, such as keypad commands, to areas that require a higher level of security. Mobile access may not be appropriate for all areas of your organization, but it can be a powerful tool when you pair it with additional layers of authentication.
4. Use of existing infrastructure
Finally, it is important to consider the existing infrastructure when deciding if mobile access is right for you and your business. If you are installing a new system, mobile device readers can be cost-effective when you integrate them with Bluetooth technology. In most cases, new installations will incorporate a number of different technologies, so you can opt to use physical credentials as well as mobile credentials.
If you are installing a system in an existing infrastructure, you should consider the costs related to replacing physical credentials and adding mobile-enabled card readers. If you intend to use both physical cards and mobile devices to control access, you would need to replace existing card readers.
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