The Role of Security in a COVID World

by John Krumme, CPP, Cam-Dex Security

How security is minimizing COVID-19 risk

We all know the benefits of a comprehensive security solution and program. Protecting people and assets has been priority number one for those associated with the security industry since its inception. The industry has accomplished this by developing new technologies and safety programs that help to keep unwanted visitors off a property and to proactively identify and alert authorities of an intruder.

Now, the security industry is finding itself in new territory and this includes helping to minimize health risks in a COVID-19 world. Technology originally developed to watch people entering and exiting an area is now being used to detect elevated temperatures. Access control systems developed with leading edge technology in mind, such as mobile credentials, are now recognized as touchless access control solutions that so many corporations and universities demand today.

As we look ahead to the future and move beyond just protecting people and assets, here are a few considerations relating to new ways that security technology is being leveraged.

Thermal Imaging Cameras

Thermal imaging camera technology has been part of the security industry for at least two decades. Using heat mapping technology, it has proved valuable to help identify individuals entering a predefined area at night when lighting conditions may make it difficult to detect a person using traditional surveillance cameras. However, until recently, their deployment has been limited primarily to military applications, perimeter protection and usage for high security areas.

Now, casinos, restaurants, and even hospitals are starting to deploy thermal imaging camera systems as part of their first line of defense to detect elevated temperatures. These specially designed cameras, which can detect a specific temperature in a person, are helping businesses to quickly screen customers and visitors using a method that requires minimal direct human contact with that visitor.

Security directors who are looking at implementing this technology are also considering future benefits. This includes developing a comprehensive Prevention Plan. The thermal imaging camera can be integrated to monitor and report social distancing. By integrating these cameras with other security technologies, you can maximize effectiveness, including responding more rapidly to the real-time data provided.

Touchless Entry

As more people look to limit the number of surfaces they touch when they enter a building, whether it’s the office, grocery story or school building, access control systems that support touchless entry has received additional attention over these few months.

Companies are investing in automatic door opening systems that integrate with a Proximity card reader or mobile credentials. While traditionally used for high traffic areas – such as entrances into large retail stores or large medical centers – automatic door entry systems eliminate the need for a person to touch a door handle to enter an area.

Leveraging touchless solutions, such as mobile credentials, instead of a keypad or biometric fingerprint system, minimizes contact with a specific security device. This is an important consideration moving forward, especially since the entrance into secure areas may be used by dozens of people in a given day.

Restricting Access

While managing access – who can come and go within a specific area – has been a focus for the security industry, corporations are looking at incorporating additional parameters into their access control systems. This includes restricting access to specific floors in a building for employees. Previously if a person worked at a business that individual may have been able to move around the building more freely. Working in conjunction with the elevator control system, that employee may only be permitted to exit the elevator on his designated floor.

In addition, access control systems are being used to help monitor the number of people within a specific area. For example, if the office lunchroom has a limited capacity of five people, access would be restricted until another individual badges out of that area.

Without a doubt, security technology has evolved over the years, incorporating new capabilities once never imagined possible. Now, due to COVID-19 the industry is finding itself in a new, expanded position, adding value not just to security but also to public health and safety.

The New Security Buzzword – Touchless Security

By Dominic Burns, AC Technical Systems Ltd.

Much of what people do on a daily basis involves touching hundreds of items without thought – we turn a door knob to open a door, touch a keypad to type on a computer and push elevator buttons to close the door and select a floor. Until recently, people didn’t have to worry about these simple actions, as they didn’t pose a potential health and safety risk.

As COVID-19 has changed how we do interact with people, eliminating hand shaking and promoting social distancing, it has also impacted our desire, or lack thereof, to touch things. As a result, the security industry is seeing greater emphasis being placed on implementing solutions that can support a touchless security experience – eliminating the unnecessary transfer of germs between surfaces and people.

Few people leave their home without their mobile phone in their pocket or purse. While mobile credentialing has slowly grown over the past few years, this technology is expected to increase considerably. Mobile credentials discourage the practice of sharing of proximity cards between employees, such as when someone may forget their card at home and cannot gain access into the company parking lot. It also enables companies to more easily monitor and manage access privileges, eliminating the need for in-person interaction to issue a new security badge.

Automatic doors are the norm for many large-scale retailers, such as grocery stores and big box chains, but this security technology will now trickle down to include smaller business types. Security directors are investing in magnetic door strikes to turn once manually operated doors into automatic, whether it’s connected to an access control reader or via an automatic door sensor.

While many building entrance doors are currently equipped with a handicap button to automate opening and closing to be ADA Compliant, this function will soon move to incorporate completely touch free solutions. Touchless buttons will replace the large touchpad, requiring a person to only wave a hand in front of the button to activate the door.

Keypads are perhaps the most commonly used access control solution, due in part to the low-cost nature of these systems and the flexibility to scale up based on needs. However, due to COVID-19, many businesses do not currently want to leverage a system that requires people to push multiple buttons.  As an alternative, businesses have begun to invest in a cover that can be placed over the keypad and then turn the keypad into a card reader and a touchless access solution.

The security industry is adapting to the new security norms, and market demands. Security directors are driving a market shift that now includes implementing new solutions designed to facilitate a touchless security experience.

3 Reasons to Adopt Mobile Credentials

By J. Matthew Ladd, The Protection Bureau

Over the past four years, the adoption of mobile credentials for access control has increased significantly, and is expected to account for 20% of all credentials by 2020. While it will be some time before mobile credentials replace the tried and true plastic card completely, the industry is beginning to embrace this new technology and implement it in a way that provides more secure data exchanges in the long run. In an industry where old habits die hard, it is important to examine the advantages of all possible solutions and decide what is best for you.

  • 1) Mobile credentials are less likely to get lost
    The largest security risk, as it relates to access control, is if a credential gets into the wrong hands. There is no easy way to identify when this happens, or even to track where the credential ends up. By the time a user realizes their credential is missing and reports it, it could have already been used to access secure areas. If this card is replaced with a mobile credential, the likelihood of it going missing decreases significantly. There are few daily tasks that can be completed without a cell phone. From tracking calendars, taking conference calls and checking emails on the go, a busy professional is never without their mobile device, and if they are, they typically know where they left it. The same cannot be said for a credential card. People could leave it on their desk, in their car or at home without a second thought. Try hiding someone’s cell phone versus their credential card and see which one they notice is missing first.
  • 2) Mobile credentials offer more than traditional credentials – and are more convenient
    While mobile credentials get you in the door, they have the power to accomplish so much more. Already, mobile devices have multifactor authentication built into them, with fingerprints, pins and facial recognition technology. If an access control system utilizes these built-in features, users can gain the heightened security of multifactor authentication without the need for new hardware, which can be costly and time consuming. In addition, mobile devices also have location services built into them, alleviating the need to scan an actual badge by using proximity servers to identify when a person is near a door they need access to. When juggling coffee, laptops and breakfast in the morning, the last thing an employee wants to worry about is digging around for a credential card.
  • 3) Mobile credentials can save money
    Mobile credentials already seem like the easiest choice, but the real selling point is that they can be far more cost effective than the traditional access control badge. They are easily upgradable and eliminate the cost associated with issuing a physical badge or access control card to every employee. Because employees are already using their cell phones, it makes sense to leverage the technology everyone already carries in their pockets. This is especially useful on college campuses or hotels, where key cards are replaced frequently.

Overall, mobile credentials are making a good case for themselves. From convenience, to increased security, to long-term cost savings, it simply seems like the logical direction for the industry to go. As implementation has picked up in past years, time will tell if the industry adopts mobile credentials exclusively.

Mobile Credentials: Access in a New Age

By J. Matthew Ladd

For the majority of individuals, the mobile phone is the go-to accessory. Along with car keys and nowadays, a Fitbit or some other activity tracker, a smartphone is the one thing people can’t be without.

It has already replaced the watch and the camera and is rapidly taking over for credit cards, so it stands to reason that the more that can be accomplished via the smartphone, the more efficient people will be, including using the smartphone as an access control credential. A smartphone, unlike an access card, is less likely to be forgotten at home in a purse or a pair of pants or left on the desk at work or in the dorm.

Operating much like the usual access card, a mobile credential uses Bluetooth technology to “talk” to the reader to verify and authorize a user’s credential. But the twist is that it’s the smartphone that is driving the transaction, typically using an app to receive secure information via a cloud-based server that tells the reader what to look for and, if the information is correct, validates the process.

Since this is a cloud-based operation, not a static one, the authorization code updates continually, making for an even more secure transaction.

As with any newer technology, questions do come up about the integrity of using a personal smartphone for access control. But as we’ve all seen, confidence in the cloud as a secure environment continues to grow, addressing some of the data-related concerns. Also misplaced phones, just like missing access cards, can be taken offline so someone else can’t use the credential.

What companies, schools or government agencies don’t have to deal with any longer, however, is the costly process of issuing individual cards since the information is carried on the phone, nor do card users have to go through the monotonous routine of finding and swiping a card or punching in a code.

It is estimated that there will be 196 million smartphone users in the United States in 2016. With so much intelligence residing within the phone that people carry with them all day and every day, end users are eager to add mobile credentialing to the long list of operations they can now perform.