Entering the New Age Through Touchless Access Control

Imran Anwar -
Illustration: © IoT For All

The pandemic rages on at the time of this writing, transforming the world as we know it. When offices reopen after the pandemic lockdown, we are likely to see significant regulatory modifications to the workplace. Businesses will be expected to maintain socially distant offices and minimize the use of shared surfaces. Facial recognition based IoT devices are fueling the adoption of the next generation of access control with touchless systems.

Goodbye Common Touch Surfaces

According to the guidelines promulgated by WHO, OSHA, and CDC, businesses and organizations are responsible to get the workplace ready to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in case there’s an outbreak in their community. In addition to other measures, employers are advised to routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces such as workstations, countertops, and door handles. 

For any forward-looking enterprise, the office access system should be a particular area of concern. Employers have been asked to provide disposable wipes and educate the workers to wipe down the door handle, pin pad, or fingerprint scanner before and after every use. Offices with a large number of employees are likely to find it almost impossible to implement that recommendation. Besides, workers and visitors might feel averse to touching and wiping down surfaces every time they enter the office.

So, does that mean touch-intensive office entry systems like PIN pads, fingerprint scanners, and keycards that we were using before COVID-19 are going to see their end? With the new generation of touchless access management systems that allow users to enter workplaces without touching potentially contaminated surfaces, the writing seems to be on the wall for legacy access control.

The Limitations of Legacy Access Control Systems

Key cards, PIN pads, and biometric fingerprint scanners are perfect sanctuaries for germs and viruses to hide and spread. But that’s not the only problem legacy systems have. They are also insecure and cumbersome to use and manage.

Key cards can be lost, stolen or cloned. PINs can be shared or forgotten. With these systems, it’s difficult and wasteful to reset pins, enroll and remove users, manage different levels of access, and extend the system to multiple locations. The more recent mobile-based access control systems solve the problems of scalability and multisite single dashboard management, however, they don’t have a built-in facial recognition feature, which might be a big handicap in the post-pandemic world. 

The lack of facial recognition makes it difficult to manage employee attendance and implement meaningful two-factor authentication at sensitive entry points. There’s always a risk of tailgating, people signing in on behalf of others, or someone illegally entering the office using a stolen card or phone.

What the Future of Access Control Looks Like

The next generation of office and building access control comes with advanced face recognition technology that provides completely touchless access and eliminates the use of shared surfaces while entering the office or building.

Face recognition also makes it easy to implement fool-proof access security by implementing two-factor authentication at critical entry points. Touchless access is also more convenient and efficient compared to legacy systems. For example, users can enroll instantly by snapping a photo of their face with their mobile, after which they can access the controlled areas. You just have to look at the face recognition terminal, and the door unlocks. 

Another big advantage of the new-age access control systems is that you can quickly scale them to manage multiple locations from a single dashboard. Being fully cloud-managed, they reduce your admin and security workload and provide unprecedented peace of mind. The system also doubles as a video intercom and video surveillance, obviating the need to spend extra money on these systems.

The Way Forward

Face recognition is among the IoT technologies that are projected to face accelerated growth after COVID-19. Access control is the most obvious, though not the only application of face recognition. 

Right now, access control companies are working to incorporate infrared scanners to monitor if anyone is running a fever while entering the workplace. Computer vision and AI can be used to actively monitor employee health and identify close contacts of an employee who tests positive for COVID-19. 

Under the new SOPs, businesses may find it inevitable to work in shifts to maintain social distancing. Touchless access control systems can be easily programmed to grant or restrict access to shift workers at the scheduled times. On the whole, facial recognition-based touchless access control solves all of the problems with outdated access control systems that make them unsuitable for the post-COVID-19 world.

Written by Swiftlane

Author
Imran Anwar - Staff Writer, Swiftlane

Contributors
IoT For All
IoT For All
Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All. If you're interested in contributing to IoT For All, cli...
Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All. If you're interested in contributing to IoT For All, cli...