Ahead in the cloud: access control evolves

John Whitby at dormakaba looks at the development of cloud-based access control systems, and the important benefits they can have for customers.

The rapid pace of technological innovation in recent years has resulted in an increase in the capabil- ity and performance of access control products available on the market.

Hybrid solutions comprising mechanical and electronic products, offering an integrated approach to access control, are becoming increasingly popular. With convenience at their core, their popularity is down to ease of installation, increased security and efficient delivery.

Mobile access solutions

Mobile access technology has allowed greater flexibility for access control systems. Traditional methods of personal identification such as fobs and keycards now work alongside new, alternative devices. For example, smartphones can now feature stand-alone digital locking technology.

People are more likely to have their smartphone with them at all times, but unlikely to loan it to someone else – contributing to a robust security environment. Mobile phones can also incorporate additional security functions such as a PIN or passcode. Newer models also allow users to choose biometric verification, such as fingerprint or facial recognition. In addition, by removing the need to replace lost and stolen cards or fobs, these systems can be more cost effective in the long-term.

In the cloud

One criticism often aimed at traditional access systems is the difficulty of installation and its compatibility within a building’s existing IT system. This process can often be time consuming, costly and inconvenient to the customer.

Access systems that incorporate cloud-based technology require little or no interaction with existing IT systems. For example, no dedicated software or server is required to be held on site. Business-critical solutions including HR and payroll are already reaping the benefits.

Cloud-based access control systems are also ideal for commercial properties that require zone-based security. Their flexibility allows for tailored access to be established for different persons or groups for specific areas of the building. The movements of users can be recorded for audit, traceability and potential compliance purposes.

As businesses evolve and personnel change, systems allow access privileges to flex, so ensuring that only authorised individuals can access the building.

Some systems also incorporate functions that allow customers to deliver access rights to visitors remotely via their mobile devices. Security can be enhanced outside working hours by automatically requiring PIN entry alongside the key or badge.

There is also an increase in demand for integration between access control systems and third party mobile apps. Using standard development toolkits (SDK) this integration is far more effective and intuitive with cloud-based solutions.

A sound specification

When specifying access control systems it is crucial to consider the life cycle costs, as well as aiming to future-proof the installation, ensuring they are forward compatible. To achieve this, it is strongly advised to invest in a trustworthy supplier that is recognised for high quality and reliable products.

John Whitby is the technical lead at dormakaba