Updated: May 16
After years of slow growth, the access control space has recently been evolving at a more rapid pace, and the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a catalyst for some of this change. End users insist on a more 'frictionless' experience with improved convenience; emerging public health & safety protocols are demanding 'touchless' solutions; and technology providers continue to seek flexibility, scalability, easier administration, and lower costs.
The traditional' lock & key' access control method was in place for many, many years and was fraught with challenges and inconveniences (e.g., easy for the owner to lose, easy for a 'bad actor' to duplicate). Access badges have been deployed for decades (the magnetic stripe ID card was invented in 1960) and used various technologies to identify the badge holder to an access control system. The most common technologies are magnetic stripe, proximity, barcode, and smart cards. Unfortunately, key fobs/access cards/badges can be easily forgotten, misplaced, or lost, and they're easy to duplicate.
Since the arrival of the first iPhone in 2007, mobile access control has revolutionized the industry and is the fastest-growing business segment. A high percentage of people own smartphones today; however, few use them to gain access to homes, apartments, condominiums, and even vehicles. This lack of use is beginning to change, as the benefits are apparent: touchless/frictionless access, much lower costs to manage credentials, flexibility, and improved privacy.
Now that facial and fingerprint recognition are part of most consumer smartphone and tablet products, and public health & safety is front of mind, biometric technologies are becoming more mainstream. These hand-held technologies apply to both access control and identity verification solutions in the multi-tenant residential community. While biometrics are not new, they've been both expensive and often inaccurate. Advances in this area (e.g., machine learning to adapt to changing facial features, centralized administration, etc.) arrive in the marketplace every year. When integrated with a Cloud-based solution, biometric-based identity verification and access control has become an attractive option.
Cloud- and subscription-based security: In the past, the business model for access control solutions was comprised of on-premise infrastructure (key cards, readers, management panels, etc.) and a necessary dependency on technical-savvy staff to manage these systems. Moving access control solutions partially or entirely away from installed and operated physical infrastructure to the Cloud provides significant benefit to both solution providers and tenants of residential communities. These benefits include: multi-site management, scalability, easy-to-apply security updates, a convenient 'mobile-first' approach, real-time grant or revoke, data backup, and more.
Another emerging trend in access control is emerging from the pandemic. It's called 'Presence Control': while it's important to know who is accessing your building, it's becoming just as important to know where people are within that building, to ensure social distancing, and to assist in managing 'people density' in common areas. Real-time locating systems (RTLS), well-established in supply chain management and other scenarios, are used to automatically identify and track objects or people's location in real-time, usually within a building or other contained area. RTLS can also optimize building spaces and facilitate lighting, heat, air conditioning, and other building resources.
Consider this scenario: a residential community where one or more tenants have tested positive for COVID-19. Real-time locating systems (RFID, Bluetooth, infrared, and cellular technologies) are now being used in various parts of the world to track and 'geofence' individuals who have tested positive to provide safeguards against breaking quarantine.
Multi-Factor Authentication: Residential facilities in search of a more advanced level of security can now provide multi-factor authentication, in which a tenant must provide at least two types of identity (i.e., something you know, have, or are). Multi-modal solutions are now available, supporting key fob, mobile, pin pad, and biometrics, all integrated. These solutions are typically more convenient for residents; if a smartphone or key card is left behind, a pin pad can be used to access a building or room.
Wearables: For about five years now, many of your smartphone's capabilities have been making their way to smartwatches and other wearables. Only a few years ago, your watch was good at two or three things at best: providing you with the current time, today's date, and perhaps a timer for a sprint or a hard-boiled egg. Today, wearables like the Apple Watch can make contactless payments, send & receive text messages, make phone calls, check the weather, play music, deliver real-time flight alerts, and provide access into a building or past a locked door. The wearables market is moving fast, and new capabilities for identity verification and access control will emerge in this space.
Finally, Blockchain Technologies are being considered by many to be critical to the future of security and authentication, and access control solutions using blockchain are being developed and vetted today. Blockchain has the potential to change the way we buy and sell, interact with businesses, and verify the authenticity of everything from people to property to produce. It combines the internet's openness with the security of cryptography to give everyone a faster, safer way to verify key information and establish trust.
Imagine being able to move about the world and authenticate yourself at your residential community, bank, airport, and Amazon.com, using only one identity/set of credentials.
"The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don't really even notice it, so it's part of everyday life." ~ Bill Gates
Return to the CTS blog regularly and stay abreast of the latest technology advances for your residential community. Better yet, contact us today, and we can discuss how CTS can partner with you to make your community safer, more secure, and more convenient for residents!