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Five steps to securing office access with mobiles

Five steps to securing office access with mobiles


Within the Middle East, organisations have already seen the value of secure access solutions. In a recent Middle East focused HID Global survey, 52% of the respondents said that they have already deployed basic secure access solutions. Additionally, 50% of the respondents said that their organisations were planning to upgrade their access control solutions within the next 12 months.

Globally, mobile access control has emerged as the next form of secure access, with regards to entering buildings and premises. The Middle East is ready for this form of convenient and secure access, 34% of the survey’s respondents highlighted that they wanted mobile access when it was time to upgrade their access control solution.

Technologically, the world is geared to rapidly support this trend, 34% of the world’s population have a smartphone device today. In addition, as wearables become viable for mobile access, IDC predicts that smart wearables capable of running third party apps will grow 84% between 2014 and 2019.

The key to implementing a mobile access solution within an organisation lies in the five steps outlined below.

Audit building control system

It is vital to assess your building’s current physical access control infrastructure to determine the requirements for moving to mobile. Is your organisation ready to deploy a mobile access control solution? If not, what steps do you need to take to make it mobile-ready?

If you have already invested in physical access control, such as entry cards or tokens, the objective should not be to simply substitute one credential form for another. While mobile access control may replace cards or badges in some cases, in many other environments it makes more sense if phones supplement cards to develop a secure and convenient experience.

An important question to consider is functionality, namely, are your current access control readers able to support mobile access? It is important to assess each reader’s requirements, whether it demands long-range control, for car park entrances or other outside buildings, or short-range authentication capabilities. See step three for details on reader upgrades.

It is key to be able to leverage mobile solutions to combine security and convenience in unified access control scenarios, including secure access to doors, data and cloud services.

Which mobile devices need to be supported

The next step is to think about which devices you need to support, to ensure your employees can make the most of mobile access. By analysing your user base you can understand how a new mobile access control solution will work best for them.

You should also consider how many users will need to use the mobile access solution? What areas of the environment would benefit most from mobile access like car parking or main entrance? What different roles and access rights need to be assigned and managed?

Upgrade on-site hardware 

The considerations will vary from business to business. If you allow staff to bring their own devices, or if you provide them with one, this will affect the range of technologies that your solution needs to support.

Once you have completed auditing and analysis of the technology required, you can now plan for the installation of new hardware, or the upgrading of previous readers. If readers need to be replaced, make sure the new devices are mobile-ready for access control, even if you do not use this function at the moment. This will ensure your investment is safe for the long term.

This step is wholly guided by your previous work, so make sure you do a thorough job incorporating steps one and two before turning to this stage. Parking garages, main entrance doors and elevators can all benefit from long read range reader terminals, such as those supported by Bluetooth Smart. Opening a parking door from within a car, without even rolling down your window, or accessing the entrance of a building while walking up to it significantly increases user convenience for your employees. However, doors in close proximity to one another need to utilise a tap experience from a short-distance.

Opening the wrong door unintentionally, or indeed all your building’s doors, clearly is not a well optimised mobile access solution. Each reader can be configured to match the requirements of the doors. It may not simply be a case of rip and replace in your own company. Taking the time to carefully map out your requirements could prove a cost-effective method of implementing your mobile access control solution.

Suitable software 

The next step is to make sure your mobile access system is supported by software that increases operational efficiency by managing the enrollment and provisioning of mobile IDs over-the-air. No physical encoding, printing, or returns should be necessary.

This type of software enables administrators to upload users in batches, easily sharing customised invitations and instructions to each employee via email. Unique encryption keys, ensuring proper matching of both phone and mobile ID, protect over-the-air provisioning. At the reader level, an additional layer of encryption ensures a highly secure transaction. The mobile phone’s screen lock keeps the mobile ID unusable if the phone is lost or stolen. This type of software should also allow openness and integration capabilities to further define the business processes best suitable for your business.

Create mobile IDs 

The final step in your access system implementation is to issue mobile IDs to your staff. More and more providers are enabling their software to be available through the App Store or Google Play, allowing users to download the associated apps. After the app is installed on the users’ mobile device, their mobile will be set up as a digital access control card.

To ensure smooth uptake of your mobile access control system, this stage needs to be as easy as possible for your users. Currently, there are a handful of service providers, with some offering a better user experience than others. The key is to be methodical and clear with your staff during the mobile ID process.

Using a cloud-based system enables the easy transmission of individual mobile IDs to each employee. With new mobile IDs being sent autonomously through the air with minimal effort on behalf of your employee, they receive an email, prompting them to download your access software’s app. A digital key is also included in the e-mail, so all they need to do is copy this code into the app and they are good to go.

Deploying the optimal architecture for employee mobile access solutions has the potential to transform your company’s culture, security and employee convenience. By keeping these steps in mind, your implementation process can be smoother than you think.

Wisam Yaghmour, Regional Sales Director MEA, Physical Access Control at HID Global.


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