Digital Access in the Workplace

It is simple to set up a unified, robust access control solution for one tenant leasing one building. It is even easier if the tenant owns the property. But what is involved when multiple companies lease space in a building? And what about companies that have multiple buildings in the same city or locations across various regions in the country and the world?

EAC and Credential Options
In the leasing scenarios, typically the property management company deploys an electronic access control (EAC) system strictly for shared openings like exterior entrances, elevators, fitness centers and other shared areas that tenants need and request access.

Card or mobile credentials are then issued to employees by the property management company based on the tenant’s requested and authorized privileges. Where one company occupies a whole floor, elevator access and stairway ingress to that area are restricted to only those who work for that specific employer.

Deeper into a location, a tenant may elect to install their own distinct EAC solution to further control access and protect people, assets and intellectual property. This often requires a separate card or badge from the one issued for the building’s common spaces. The unique credentials in such cases are issued, modified, and revoked by a tenant’s own administrator.

Sometimes, there is an opportunity for a tenant to choose the same EAC solution that the property management company uses, which can help facilitate compatibility and the blending of credentials onto one card or mobile access device. Other considerations can influence that decision, of course, such as cost, integration, relationships with established vendors and service providers, and interoperability with solutions already in place at other company locations.

Access Everywhere All at Once
Consider operations in different cities both here in the United States and around the world. Sometimes, an employee in their office in Brooklyn, for example, needs to head to a manufacturing facility in New Jersey or visit a company location in Canada. Ideally, all are standardized on a common EAC solution where a credential works equally well at any of the company’s locations.

For organizations that have grown through various acquisitions and expansions, however, it is not always possible to expect every place to have standardized on one access control design, especially where other legacy systems are well in place. But as those systems age out, there’s room to replace them in the future with a solution that is compatible across the board.

The good news is that mobile phones can provide a way to pack multiple access credentials into an employee’s individual device. That can help unify the range of EAC solutions that may exist, providing they support mobile credentials. It certainly beats having to wear a bandolier of plastic access cards to sift through at each facility.

This concept can also work well for a tenant that has one set of credentials for the main building and another for their space’s separate EAC system.

The Advancement and Advantages of Biometric Credentials
Another benefit of mobile credential access is it provides the added security of biometric authorization where facial recognition or a fingerprint verifies identity to unlock the phone. It is extremely rare to misplace or leave a phone behind. The same claim cannot be made for card and badge credentials.

Biometrics are also playing a new role in digital access through the deployment of facial recognition readers at the door which are gaining traction. They can be installed throughout a building or at individual entry points to unlock and access openings from a distance, providing a touchless and more seamless user experience. Imagine walking up to a facial recognition reader with your arms full and being immediately let in without having to use a badge, card or your phone to present credentials.

More Digital Access Solutions
There are also other access controller technologies that provide long-range reading capabilities like UHF readers for identifying RFID parking tags on cars to activate lot entrance and exit gates that are part of a facility. Like other EAC solutions, facial recognition and UHF readers can generate an audit trail to track activity.

Not everyone coming to a workplace is an employee in the possession of access control credentials. This is where new voice and video intercom solutions are now entering the picture and are particularly helpful for granting access to visiting clients, delivery people and contractors.

With a door station voice/video intercom outside a space, a visitor can walk up to the intercom camera, use the keypad to contact the tenant, have two-way conversation, and be seen on the indoor screen to visually confirm their identity. Once recognized, the tenant can use the intercom’s unlock function to let the visitor in. If the tenant happens to be away from the interior display, they can use the system’s phone app to see and communicate with the person and unlock the door remotely.

At the end of the day, door security and digital access solutions for multi-tenant and multi-location applications are becoming smarter as more intelligent approaches and buildings come online.

This article originally appeared in the May / June 2024 issue of Security Today.

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