Post COVID-19 Access Control Trends by Nathan Bearman

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First Published on April 12, 2020 on Linked-In…..

Many things are going to change in the coming months, especially in the physical security arena where more and more security functions will be digitised and remotely managed.

Electronic Access Control will be one of the areas that will be transformed as the virus changes the way we work, live and play. I predict in the Post-Covid-19 Period, the following trends will become the new norm for electronic access control systems:

1. Managed Cloud-Based Access Control Servers will Become the New Normal

What the coronovirus situation has taught is that managed cloud-based systems are crucial to allow workers to work remotely. Cloud-based access control systems facilitate easier remote maintenance as well as remote administration and remote reporting. Customers will now demand this of their access control solution provider.

2. Increased Cyber Security for Access/Control Network Communication

Following on from the increase in the use of cloud-based access control systems will be the requirement by customers (especially corporates) for higher levels of cyber security. This would include secure encrypted communication between access/control devices and the cloud server as well as the browser management interface. Systems that can offer HTTPS / TLS encrypted data communications will be key.

3. Demand for Open Architecture Hardware Support

This will be in greater demand as customers and system integrators will want to make use of readily available hardware in their home market and/or hardware that may already be installed. Access control software solution providers that are NOT tied to proprietary hardware products, will be able to cross borders and gain market share.

4. Temperature Measurement Combined with Visitor & Tenant Access/Control

Some of the traditional mass-produced access control hardware companies are already marketing facial recognition terminals with some form of temperature measurement. These combine touchscreen displays with thermal cameras and/or infra-red contactless temperature sensors.

How effective these are and if the trend will last is yet to be determined. One needs to ask, is temperature measurement a false sense of security and are these companies trying to exploit the situation or is it a valid risk mitigation measure in terms of containment measures.

Whatever the real situation is, many countries and local governments will have a requirement for businesses to have such measures in place before they can re-open. They will need to screen tenants, employees and visitors for fever and keep records of visitors as part of the access control audit trail.

5. Edge Access Control IP Readers will become preferred

Combined IP reader/controller units that can be managed remotely and rebooted as or when required will replace many of the traditional Wiegand/RS485 reader & controller board combos. Integrators and users of these units will, however, need to ensure measures are in place to protect against forced entry by cutting of lock cabling to these readers.

6. Increase in the Design & Use of Hybrid Access Control Systems

These systems will incorporate edge IP access/control devices storing information such as credentials and logs connected to cloud-based servers and web interfaces which are used to manage doors, user permissions and credentials. If internet connectivity is interrupted these systems would be able to carry on operating per the access control status quo (with the use of information stored on the ‘edge’.

7. Increase in the Use of Contactless Credentials

Facial recognition will become more popular as a credential type, however, some issues do remain with this technology. Some manufacturers have already adapted their products to support the use of protective face masks. Contact fingerprint biometrics will be shunned and access control credentials such as QR codes, Bluetooth (BLE), finger swipe readers and number plate recognition access control will become popular for new projects. Traditional RFID proximity cards/tags will be seen as acceptable again and customers using fingerprint readers will revert to the inbuilt RFID reader instead of the fingerprint sensor function. However, with all credential methods, it is still important to reduce contact with ironmongery such as door handles.

8. Greater Use of Automated Motorised Access Control Doors

To reduce contact with the access/control door itself, there will be an uptick in the use of automated sliding doors and doors fitted with motorised door openers. These will help allow users to use doors without having to touch door handles. They can, however, be expensive to fit and will require an SLA contract in place to provide quick onsite support. Other less expensive measures include the use of a contactless request for exit button and/or increased hygiene cleaning controls around access control doors.

9. Reduced Access Control Foot Traffic

For the next few months, many sites will experience reductions in access control traffic as companies or organisations will have greater numbers of workers working remotely from home. Workers may also be split into separate working hour/day shifts in order to reduce risk and/or amounts of people in a building at once.

10. Change in Access Control Flows & Stacking Due to Social Distancing Rules

Access/Control flows will need to be adapted for new governmental guidelines in terms of social distancing and in order to reduce the risk of re-transmission of the virus. Sites will need to start implementing additional stacking procedures. This will help reduce the number of individuals using elevators, lift lobbies, waiting rooms and transportation systems. In many cases, this will require the redesign of many existing physical access control systems.

  1. Employee, Contractor & Visitor Management Logs Become Essential. Visitor management will become more important, especially to record essential worker visits and to track and trace individuals. Security management may now be remotely based and it will be critical that they have a handle on each site.

12. Stricter Access Control Rules

Security managers will now want to be able to easily adjust security access rules to remotely control access to individual or global sites as the risk changes. Greater scrutiny will also be applicable in terms of who has access to certain areas/doors and at what times.

13. Access Control System Training Online By Webinar

There will be a reduction in live training sessions for the foreseeable future and an increase in online training. Access control solution providers will need to ensure products are easy to use and configure with minimal online training.

14. Increase in the Use of Access Control & Automation For Apartment Buildings & Multi-Unit Dwellings

With greater numbers of workers working from home. Property managers and tenant committees (body corporates) will want to have greater control of who has access to the site. This would include visitors, contractors and short term tenants such as Airbnb rentals.

The post-virus period should see an uptick in the upgrade of these access/control and intercom systems as well as the complete overhaul of access control and visitor management designs for new projects.

Nathan Bearman

Nathan is co-founder of the South Africa based, EvTrack visitor management & cloud access control solution and a director of the Eagle Group of Companies. He is also an experienced security system designer with 20+ years in the access control and CCTV security industry.

Website: www.evtrack.com – Email Address: info@evtrack.com