Mobile Discussion

Mobile Discussion

In the near future, many will trade card credential to use their own smartphone for access control

Mobile DiscussionUsing mobile devices is common behavior for consumers and businesspeople. In fact, 5.9 billion of us—87 percent of the world’s population—are mobile subscribers for one type of device or another, many of us using two or more. One visit to an airport and a glance at all the people working their wireless computers, smartphones, iPads and Kindles will tell you that mobile computing is an essential practice today. Mobile use has begun to permeate the consumer market in ways beyond simple communication, Web browsing or ordering from e-stores.

Today, when you’re not home, you can monitor your house through your Webenabled computer or smartphone. You can check the status of your door locks and grant entry to your home. You can conserve energy and save money by controlling your lights and thermostat. Contractors are already creating the infrastructure for such services in many new home constructions.

As they use mobile applications in other aspects of their lives, students entering the workforce will fuel demand for increased use of their smartphones. They will expect office buildings, technical campuses and services to be mobile-friendly. They won’t want to remember and manage multiple cards, items and ID credentials when they could simply use their smartphone to do it all.

Why All the Talk about NFC?

Near field communication (NFC) provides simplified transactions, data exchange and wireless connections between two devices in close proximity to each other, usually by no more than a few centimeters. It is expected to become a widely-used system for making payments by smartphone in North America. Many smartphones currently on the market already contain embedded NFC chips that can send encrypted data a short distance—near field—to a reader located, for instance, next to a retail cash register. Shoppers who have their credit card information stored in their NFC smart phones can pay for purchases by waving their smart phones near or tapping them on the reader, rather than bothering with their actual credit card.

NFC technology in smartphones can be used to emulate smart credentials, allowing use of a mobile phone for entry into secure areas. To turn a smartphone into an access control credential, one simply downloads an app, such as aptiQmobile from Schlage. The Web-based key management system then sends access control credentials to the NFC-enabled smart phone, which the owner then uses to retrieve the secure mobile key that was set up by the smartphone owner’s access control site administrator. To enter buildings, students simply open the aptiQmobile app and tap their phone to the smart reader on the wall in the same way that they would present their One Card campus ID badge. It is secure and easy to use.

Many end users are excited about this new technology and its future use in the marketplace. Like smart cards and biometrics, the early adaptors have been on college campuses, ready to bring the technology to the commercial market along with themselves and their degrees. Already using smartphones as a card credential at college, they will want to do likewise once they are in the job market.

The desire to use smart phones as credentials is backed by studies. Three research projects were conducted by Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies among 1,300 students and decision makers across 980 U.S. colleges and universities, both public and private, 2-year and 4-year, in May 2011. Researchers found that twothirds of American college students are interested in using their mobile phone in place of an ID card. Students feel they are less likely to lose their phone than an ID card. They know that ID cards are shared; phones aren’t. Using a phone as a credential also offers the ability to remotely erase credential data in case it’s lost or stolen, providing an extra layer of security.

NFC at Villanova and the University of San Francisco

Since November 2011, Villanova University students and staff have been using the Web-based service along with NFC and their own personal smart phones as their credential to access dormitories, academic buildings and administration offices. In a survey among the students in the Villanova trial, more than 70 percent stated they would prefer to use their phone instead of a badge to enter buildings.

The NFC credential integrates with Villanova’s CS Gold campus card system from CBORD. CS Gold fully supports NFC credentials and seamlessly integrates with the aptiQmobile Web service, so the credential download process is simple. To use the credentials, students simply install and open the One Card app and present the phone to the reader. Access is quick, easy and secure.

“Today’s students are so technologically advanced that it is second nature for them to put everything on their phones and, most of the time, it’s already in their hands while walking across campus,” said Kathy Gallagher, Villanova director of card services. “We want to provide our students the utmost in convenience and flexibility through the technology we offer. It’s easier for students to use an app on their phone versus digging for their card.”

In another successful roll-out of NFC-enabled campus card credentials, the University of San Francisco uses student smartphones for door access and for spending at laundry terminals. USF’s systems approach integrates all aspects of a physical security solution including campus card programs, biometrics, access control, video surveillance systems, incident response and notification systems. USF chose such a convergence model to increase crime prevention, respond to incidents in progress with as much information as possible and alert the community when incidents are in progress through an effective, multi-layer approach and to improve their investigative tools. USF integrates its NFC credential seamlessly with their CS Gold campus card system from CBORD using the aptiQmobile app.

“We want our use of near field communications to enhance the USF One Card experience on many levels, which is why we introduced it for both door access and laundry payment,” said Jason Rossi, director of One Card and campus security systems, University of San Francisco. “Our students have embraced it, telling us they prefer the convenience of their iPhones to digging for their One Cards. This convenience is important to us, but equally important is the security of using their existing contactless credentials, keeping our transactions secure. The combination makes for a first-rate experience for our students and our staff.”

The enhanced convenience of using smartphones instead of badges extends to administrators in charge of access control systems. Rather than having to print physical ID badges for each student at enrollment time, a mobile “key” can be issued online by the administrator directly to the student’s phone at any time. This saves the university staff time, administrative costs and the expense of printers, ink, card inventory and other needed supplies.

“Using smartphones as badges saves time that can be better spent on other issues,” said John Bonass, Villanova systems manager. “Assigning the credential to the students’ phone takes less work than printing and delivering a badge, and since students are protective of their phones, this should lead to a greatly reduced replacement rate. If a phone is lost or broken, a new ID can be reissued to the new phone without even having the students come to our office.”

Villanova students in two residence halls were able to unlock doors to the front door and dorm rooms, and contract for laundry services, vending machines and the cafeteria with their own iPhones when they returned to campus this past fall for the 2012/2013 school year. Over the summer, 80 Schlage AD-Series locks were implemented in St. Claire and Jackson Halls, exclusive residences for seniors.

Schlage AD-Series locks let the university leverage its One Card system to provide safe and secure passage throughout the campus. Administrators can provide seamless integration with their present software, customize today’s access control solution and easily migrate to future needs when required. Without replacing the lock, or even taking it off the door, administrators can interchange readers and network modules, integrate with existing “One Card” providers via the open architecture platform, leverage their existing network infrastructure, easily upgrade from an offline to a networked solution, change the credentials they are using at any time and use future innovative technologies as they emerge.

There also is an added benefit. The university does not need to tear out its readers when they decide to add NFC throughout the campus. If smart-enabled AD-Series locks or XceedID smart readers are already installed, it’s simply a matter of downloading the credentials to the students’ phones and they are ready to go. If non-smart access technology is being used, multi-technology readers can be installed to help ease into the transition by reading both the ID badges and the smart phones.

All existing 13.56 MHz smart versions of the AD-Series locks and XceedID smart card readers are already compatible with the aptiQmobile NFC technology. No new readers are required.

The Future for NFC is Imminent

Many smartphones currently on the market are already NFC-enabled with more models being launched every month. In the United States, more than 40 million phones were expected to be NFC-enabled by the end of 2012 and, according to a report by Market Research, nearly half of all mobile phones will be NFC enabled by 2016.

This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of Security Today.


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