Removing the barriers to ensure a smarter future for physical access control


It is no surprise that a drive towards embracing smarter access control solutions comes as a result of the success of cloud technologies; so heavily relied upon during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Tech giants with the scope, scale and imagination to bring about radical change, have given businesses a taste of what is possible when moving away from legacy technologies to embrace new ways of operating. Organisations, realising the value of cloud, are now looking to transform their physical security technologies to take care of all their security and business requirements.

As physical security becomes more dynamic and more interconnected, so it evolves. Modern access control is now about so much more than simply opening doors, with its digitization bringing multiple business benefits which would simply not be possible using traditional models. Integration, and therefore collaboration with existing software and systems, enables businesses to take advantage of intelligent, connected solutions which can offer great combined value, providing a high level of comprehensive protection.


The evolution of physical access control

Examples of access control solutions range from simple card readers to two factor authentication systems using video surveillance as a secondary means of identification, right through to complex networks of thermal cameras, audio speakers and sensors. These systems, connected through the cloud, can be customised and scaled to meet the precise requirements of today’s customer. And it’s the ease of cloud integration, combined with open technologies and platforms that is encouraging increasing collaboration.

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, frictionless access control has provided an effective ‘hands free’ means of accessing premises, using methods such as QR code readers and facial recognition as credentials to prove identity. Frictionless access control removes the need to touch shared surfaces, therefore minimising the risk of infection; of crucial importance in the current climate. Frictionless access control brings health and safety into the equation, as well as the security of entrances and exits.


Barriers to adoption

Traditional suppliers have built up a strong business model around their expertise, service and knowledge of physical security. Yet, network connectivity and the IoT present a constantly shifting landscape, requiring the traditional physical security vendor and installer to learn the language of IT; of open platforms, IP connectivity and software integration, in order to adapt to market changes and remain relevant.

Those who cannot adapt, and are simply not ready for this changing market, risk being left behind as the physical security landscape continues to shift and technologies evolve. With end users and buyers increasingly demanding smarter, more integrated and more business focussed solutions from their suppliers, it is clear that only those who are prepared and able to deliver what their customers want will succeed in this space. Time will not stand still and many are now beginning to realise that connected network-enabled solutions are here to stay.


The importance of cyber hygiene

Connecting any device to a network has a degree of risk, and it is therefore imperative that any provider not only understands modern connected technologies, but also the steps necessary to protect corporate networks. Cameras, access control systems and IP audio devices which have been left unprotected can potentially become backdoors into a network and used as access points by hackers. These vulnerabilities can be further compromised by the proliferation of connected devices within the Internet of Things (IoT), the network of devices and sensors that can communicate with one another and, though have extraordinary potential, can also be used against the very business or industry they have been employed to protect when vulnerabilities are exploited.

Cybersecurity considerations should therefore be a key factor in the development and deployment of new security systems. Access control technologies should be manufactured according to recognised cybersecurity principles, incident reporting and best practises. It is important to acknowledge that the cyber integrity of a system is only as strong as its weakest link. A system which is not prepared to accept it is a potential source of cyber exposure, and this will ultimately impact negatively on a device’s ability to provide the necessary high levels of physical security.


The future of access control

The future of access control, and of physical security as a whole, will therefore be dependent on the willingness of suppliers to implement new designs, new ways of thinking, and to influence the installers and others in their supply chains to embrace this new world. In addition, cybersecurity considerations are absolutely vital for keeping businesses safe; the integration of cyber secure technologies from trusted providers providing peace of mind around the safety or corporate networks and integrity of the deployed technologies.

As we move forward, access control systems will become data collection points and door controllers will become intelligent I/O devices. QR codes for visitor management and biometric face recognition for frictionless access control will increasingly be managed at the edge as analytics in a camera or sensor. The future of access control presents an exciting and challenging time for those ready to accept it, to secure it and to help shape it; a true opportunity to innovate for a smarter, safer world.

Download Axis’ whitepaper – The digitization and cyber security of physical access control