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PHYSICAL SECURITY: MOBILE READINESS PLANNING GUIDE

 

By Dr. Steven Shepard

Mobile devices have become indispensable tools for every aspect of life. 94% of workers in the United States have smartphones, the vast majority of whom keep them on their persons at all times.

Furthermore, workers have adopted the ‘mobile workstyle,’ made possible by the universal availability of high-functioning mobile devices. Clearly, mobility affects every aspect of the workplace. Numerous studies also demonstrate that a well-executed mobility strategy improves workforce productivity and leads to measurable business growth.

A recent Brivo sponsored survey of security managers reveals that 81% of business leaders rely on mobile applications to manage their organizations.

Mobile Evolution in Physical Security

Given the success of the mobile device as a functional platform for business-enhancing applications, mobility is now the primary enabling platform of the secure digital economy, and is evolving as an extension of the user’s digital persona. It falls into lockstep with the demands of a younger, more technologically-adept generation of users and provides access to a growing sea of data that can be analyzed to yield valuable insights about employee and customer movement and engagement. This mobile evolution in the physical security industry creates a much more secure and manageable physical access strategy to secure diverse company locations.

Enter the Cloud

The cloud provides an infrastructure that unleashes the power of mobility for both end users and system/building administrators. The use of wireless technology for remote centralized security management and mobile credentials that provide convenience, encrypted secure communications and integration with a range of other systems creates a connected ecosystem that organizations need to improve their business.

The underlying technology infrastructure is a critical element of mobile readiness, but equally important are the business considerations. Implementers and planners must consider their overall business goals and desired outcomes, the benefits of mobile app integration, their organizational risk profile, and the needs of facility and environmental impact planners.

Business Goals and Outcomes

Mobile devices have become indispensable tools for every aspect of life. 94% of workers in the United States have smartphones, the vast majority of whom keep them on their persons at all times. Furthermore, workers have adopted the ‘mobile workstyle,’ made possible by the universal availability of high-functioning mobile devices. Clearly, mobility affects every aspect of the workplace. Numerous studies also demonstrate that a well-executed mobility strategy improves workforce productivity and leads to measurable business growth.

Identify the Gaps

Finally, it is crucial to identify existing and forecasted gaps in the current physical security system, as well as any needs or desired outcomes that can be addressed by the addition of mobile-enhanced security elements.
A mobile-enabled physical security solution does much more than secure the premises: it drives efficiency and effectiveness and provides a mechanism to collect and analyze data to generate critical insights.

Key Question to Address:

Have key stakeholders across multiple departments and locations been engaged to broadly address both business and system requirements?

Mobility Use Cases and Benefits

Enterprise security systems must satisfy the end users including employees, customers, vendors and other visitors who need to enter security facilities; the business itself; and the administrators responsible for the new system. While organizations vary, the table below lists potential benefits of mobile credentials for businesses and their end-users as well as mobile management features for system administrators. This table can be used to prioritize the feature selection process.
Mobile credentials are still in the early phase of their product lifecycle with overall adoption at around 25% and growing. Early adopter market segments include senior living, shared offices, fitness centers, higher education, and multi-location organizations. Benefits sighted by customers from these segments include convenience, ease of use and management, increased security, productivity gains and expense reduction.
Action item: Rank the benefits for each use case at your organization using the table below.
Mobile credentials are still in the early phase of their product lifecycle with overall adoption at around 25% and growing.

mobile-credential-benefits-and-impacts

BenefitImpact on Business and End UsersImpact on AdministratorsRank
Convenience & enhanced user experienceEasily open doors with your smartphone.Manage and open doors any time, without being physically present.
Increased productivity & lower costsSave time replacing lost or forgotten access cards. Reduce system installation costs and have lower material costs.Increase attendant/ administration productivity while eliminating costs for rekeying and reissuing physical credentials.
Rapid deployment, ease of provisioning, administrationQuickly ramp up new locations and support access with limited on-premise staff.Quickly issue and revoke credentials for visitors, employees or tenants. (Make sure deactivation doesn’t require access to the installed mobile credential)
Increased securityEasy and convenient two-factor biometric authentication directly from your smartphone. Uniquely assign the credential to each individual. Enable widespread communication to end users and first responders during emergencies.Eliminate the need for dedicated biometric readers and hardware. Select specific users who require biometric access. Reduce security breaches with a secure encrypted credential that can’t be cloned. Track users and visitors in the building with mustering applications and security alerts. Provide advanced situational awareness to keep people safe.
Uniquely assign the credential to each individual. Enable widespread communication to end users and first responders during emergencies.Reduce security breaches with a secure encrypted credential that can’t be cloned. Track users and visitors in the building with mustering applications and security alerts. Provide advanced situational awareness to keep people safe.
Identity management & protectionFacilitate the new digital identity used for daily mobile transactionsIntegrate mobile credentials with identity management, visitor management & HR systems.

Application Integration

Mobile access should integrate with complementary business applications to ensure a seamless user experience. Not only do smartphone-equipped credentials enable access control, they also improve safety and security through the integrated deployment of alert systems, collaboration apps, safety notifications, and suspicious movement alerts. This integration is made possible by APIs and software development kits from a range of application developers and solution providers.

Key APIs to Consider

Application integration opportunities that complement mobile credentials include:

  • Visitor management systems that can issue temporary credentials for guests and contractors and track user movements within the building.
  • Time and attendance applications that capture building entrance and exit times.
  • Elevator control applications that can be enabled by mobile credentials for helping users reach their designated floor.
  • Security applications that send alerts to mobile users.
  • Smart building applications that can adjust energy needs based on room occupancy.

Key Question to Address:

Does your organization have a BYOD program that end users have embraced?

Have you explained to end users how your organization gathers and uses their mobile data so they are comfortable using your mobile solution?

Corporate Risk Assessment

Security is a tricky issue. Not enough, and the organization is at risk; too much, and everyone from employees to end users discover that the stringency makes it difficult to do business. The need to balance a secure environment against a good user experience is critical.

Credential Security and User Authentication Requirements

We can now leverage the more secure and easy-to-use authentication solutions built into smartphones including fingerprint, facial and voice recognition biometrics. New offerings such as Face ID from Apple are receiving positive reviews for increased security over earlier biometric smartphone offerings.

These embedded smartphone biometric solutions can be integrated with access control systems, offering ease of use and convenience while providing stronger safeguards for areas that require higher security.

Biometric solutions for access control offer ease of use and convenience while better safeguarding areas that require higher security.

Mobile Credential Facility and Environmental Requirements

When conducting access control facility planning, you need to consider growth, expansion, leveraging existing system infrastructure and other factors that will impact entrances, common areas, interior doors, cabinets other secure areas where access control is provided.

If the organization is migrating to exclusive use of mobile credentials, network connectivity becomes a key assessment area. If WiFi or cellular signals are available, mobile credentials can open doors for wired or wireless locks, with or without a reader. Many can operate up to the standard 802.11 range of approximately 150 feet. Look for systems that can provide additional security features to limit the accessible range to minimize breaches.

In the event that there is limited cellular and WiFi connectivity within range of entrances, then deploy Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) readers that can provide a range of 1 to 6 feet, depending on the environment. Given how new BLE readers are, this may pose a challenge for many organizations that have a large installed base of legacy equipment that does not support Bluetooth (or, in some cases, WiFi)-based access. This can have cost implications down the road.

Here is a case where you can continue to use your existing readers while you introduce mobile credentials via direct cloud communications, assuming you have a strong cellular or WiFi connection.

Key Question to Address:

  • Will your organization use both traditional credentials and mobile credentials as either a long-term plan or as part of a phased migration?
  • Is there a strong cellular signal in different building areas including gates, garages and stairwells?
  • Is WiFi available near entryways that users can connect to automatically?

Final Thoughts

Enterprise executives quickly realize that technologies like cloud and mobility are key to both organizational effectiveness and efficiency, as well as their ability to deliver a superior and memorable user experience. But, it is equally important to understand and plan for the underlying business considerations. The process of planning and implementation are often far more complicated than business leaders realize. To ensure success, they should collaborate with a trusted third-party provider with the right skills and knowledge to create a mobile physical security platform. The decision to work with a trusted provider often makes all the difference.

About Steven Shepard

Dr. Steven Shepard is the founder of the Shepard Communications Group in Williston, Vermont. A professional author, photographer, audio producer, and educator with more than 35 years of experience in the technology industry, he has written more than 80 books and hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics. He has also consulted, written and photographed in more than 90 countries, serving clients across many different industries.