Remote futures: what’s next for access security systems?

The pandemic accelerated corporate interest in access control technology. Now remote security systems will let firms make smarter, more sustainable and more convenient solutions in the office, says a new report

What lies ahead for access control technology after the global pandemic? A new report from multinational security specialist HID Global with research organisation IFSEC charts the sweeping changes in the access control industry that have occurred as a result of Covid-19.

The ‘2022 State of Physical Access Control’ report confirms that the subject is high on the corporate agenda and signals the freedom that going remote can offer organisations looking to upgrade their security systems. Read the full analysis here.

Pandemic panic

The pandemic transformed the access control industry, according to the report. With its emphasis on reducing physical contact and supporting social distancing measures, access control became an important element in an organisation’s health and safety strategy; and companies scrambled to update their approach to security.

Gone were the days of key cards, security guards and fingerprint recognition scanners. Instead, organisations were forced to pandemic-proof their security systems and start investing in effective, hands-off forms of access control. This gave remote and mobile access systems a whole new level of importance.

Now that access control has moved up everyone’s priority list, how will upgrading access control systems effect the day-to-day operating of individual companies in a post-pandemic environment?

Aside from the health and safety factors, the report highlights three core areas where companies are seeing significant benefits from upgrading their access control systems. The first benefit relates to data collection and informing financial decision making; the second focuses on the desire to meet new sustainability targets; and the third major benefit can be found in user convenience.

Financial analytics

State-of the-art access control technology allows organisations to monitor in-depth the movements of their employees and thereby make decisions around space allocation.

Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) allow security departments to monitor where employees choose to work and how many people are in one area at a time. This feature was incredibly helpful throughout the pandemic and helped companies adhere to track-and-trace regulations effectively and ensure that there was enough appropriately managed space to allow workers to socially distance.

Now that social distancing measures have relaxed, how can data collection continue to impact our ways of working?

‘Access control systems can reduce financial risk…’

With hybrid working becoming the norm, establishing where employees work from and how they engage with the office space around them can help inform decision making around downsizing or reorganising office space. Access control systems can trace where people are and thereby highlight dead space as well as those spaces that employees prefer.

For example, if your coworking lounges are currently always in use but single desks are left empty, companies can rearrange their workspace to offer more coworking space with the confidence that their investment in new furniture will not be wasted. This can reduce the financial risk of making big decisions around rearranging office space and also help inform downsizing decisions.

Meeting sustainability targets

Access control doesn’t just provide information on the movement of people. Remote access control security teams can also monitor the power usage of a building and control lighting or HVAC systems remotely to ensure that resources are exclusively being used up in spaces that are being occupied.

Given the increased focus on corporate responsibility and an increase in companies establishing ambitious sustainability targets, the ability to decrease resource wastage can help meet sustainability targets and decrease unnecessary spending during a period where the cost of fuel is increasing drastically.

‘The ability to decrease resource wastage can help meet sustainability targets…’

Additionally, for those organisations that have not yet moved on from a key-card based security system, switching to a remote, digitised model of access control can decrease the amount of plastic that is currently used to create key-cards. This can also positively impact the carbon footprint of a company.

User friendly access

Upgrading your remote access system additionally has the potential to increase the convenience of getting in and out of the office for employees.

Modernising your remote access by going fully remote and using mobile access or even biometrics, such as facial or iris recognition or fingerprint recognition that doesn’t require touchpads, is often easier to use and requires less effort from staff. This means awkward mistakes are less likely.

If employees can use facial recognition or even store their access ID on their mobile phone, this will likely limit the number of occasions that staff have left their ID at home as people are more likely to remember their phone than a key-card.

This issue is also minimised by the use of biometric scanners and HID reports that 30 per cent of people surveyed are now using biometrics as part of their access strategy. This number is likely to increase over time, with more and more companies recognising the need to invest in their remote access systems and opting for the safest and most advanced models.

‘Companies are likely to share the same commitment to reducing excess and waste…’

Access control is clearly on the corporate agenda in 2022 and the range of systems on offer reflect the diverse needs of organisations. But no matter how different their needs, companies are likely to share the same commitment to increasing security and reducing excess spending and waste – hence the requirement to reconsider their access control strategy in the future.

Read more about current trends in the access control industry in HID Global and IFSEC’s new report here.

HID Global is a Corporate Member of WORKTECH Academy. Read more HID Global content here and here
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