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Mobile access jargon you need to know

Mobile access jargon you need to know

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Jaroslav Barton, Segment Director Physical Access Control EMEA, HID Global.

As companies merge security and convenience at the door by transforming smartphones and other mobile devices into trusted, easy-to-use digital credentials that can replace keys and smart cards, there are certain things to consider when choosing a mobile access solution. To be certain the solution works with the latest smartphone technologies and is able to evolve with the mobile industry, it should be rooted in a standards-based card technology that can be emulated on a large number of mobile phones, tablets and wearables. To gain acceptance among employees and students, the user experience must be equal to that of physical cards.

First impressions last, and the solution may be easily dismissed if it does not meet expectations. The experience of opening doors with mobile devices must be streamlined, intuitive and convenient, the user should not be required to perform too many steps. An interesting value proposition of mobile access is the possibility of sending and revoking mobile identities in almost real time, and for maximum benefit, the mobile identity platform must be designed for administrator convenience and efficiency. Mobile access presents the opportunity to dramatically alter how we open doors and interact with our environment, and when implemented correctly, the future of access control will come knocking.

Using a mobile device to gain access to different buildings is not only about solving a particular problem. It is also about doing things better, by embracing technological advances and delivering a concept that will change how we interact with readers and locks and open doors using our mobile devices. In the era of mobility and cloud computing, enterprises and individuals are increasingly concerned about the security and protection of their physical environment. Correctly implemented, mobile access has the potential to change how we open doors as it is the first time in history we have a solution which can increase both security and convenience.

Confidence and education in the use of contactless applications and technologies such as NFC, Bluetooth, mobile wallets, iBeam and iBeacon are continuously growing and so is the understanding of what technologies are best suited for mobile access control. No matter what the technology, mobile devices offer an unparalleled way to change the way we open doors. However, security administrators and IT directors will need to review which mobile-related technologies will allow them to best engage with their employees to create the optimal access experience on their premises.

Near field communication

Near field communication was developed to address the dilemma of multiple contactless standards but its introduction into mobile devices has been less than smooth. Emulating a contactless card on a mobile device was up to very recently only possible via a secure element, such as a SIM card. An ecosystem in the form of Trusted Service Managers had to be setup to support the secure element centric model which resulted in complex technical integrations and business models which made it difficult to launch contactless applications based on NFC.

In 2013 Google introduced a new NFC feature in Android 4.4 called Host-based Card Emulation HCE. HCE allows a contactless card to be emulated in an app without dependencies on a secure element. With HCE it is possible to launch NFC services in a scalable and cost-effective way as long as a standards-based card technology is used. Visa and MasterCard have released specifications on how to do Visa payWave and MasterCard PayPass transactions using HCE, and HID Global has launched a mobile access control solution with HCE based on Seos.

HCE will make NFC more accessible and versatile, so that developers will then expedite services to market which, in turn, will stimulate consumer familiarity and encourage adoption. At the same time, however, the iPhone is a very popular device in the enterprise segment and many are used in organisations around the world today without NFC support. The number of installed Android 4.4 devices is growing fast, but with the lack of NFC in the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5, coupled with the fact that NFC support in the iPhone 6 is currently only available for ApplePay,there is still questionable market penetration for HCE-based solutions.

Bluetooth Smart

Bluetooth Smart was introduced into the Bluetooth Standard in 2010 and, having gained a lot of traction in markets such as healthcare and fitness, is now finding its way into the payment and coupon redemption industry. One of the success drivers for Bluetooth Smart is the support the technology has received from Apple, who has supported Bluetooth Smart since the iPhone 4S.

Google added Bluetooth Smart to Android 4.3 and as of October 31, 2013, Bluetooth Smart is the only contactless technology capable of supporting a service on the two major mobile operating systems, Android and iOS. Its low power consumption, eliminating the need for pairing and the long reading distance makes Bluetooth Smart an interesting option for mobile access control.

There is no requirement for pairing and low power consumption make Bluetooth Smart, combined with a standards-based contactless card technology, a good technology for enabling mobile access. Readers may be placed on the safe side of the door or hidden. It opens doors from a distance as you park your car, or if you want to open the door for someone ringing the door bell.

Jaroslav Barton, Segment Director Physical Access Control EMEA, HID Global.

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