The Age Of Collaboration

Connectivity is a hot topic in the IT world

The organizations of today have a wealth of technology at their fingertips, highlighting new features and advancements that are changing the way these entities do business, how people work and the interconnectivity between the two. Connectivity specifically is a hot topic in the IT world, and it’s starting to become more mainstream in the security world as more and more devices communicate with each other to achieve designated goals of streamlining operations. This connectivity is characterized by the term Internet of Things (IoT).

New Capacity for Connectivity

The IoT introduces a new capacity for connectivity that is proving to be a real benefit for enterprises, but many of these organizations have already seen the challenges presented as more devices use the network to “talk” to each other. This is especially important in the global access control market, and as organizations move forward, strategic technologies can be a critical asset to safety management.

At its basic level, IoT is the concept of connecting any device with an “on and off” switch to the Internet—and to other devices, in some cases. Gartner forecasts that 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016, and will reach 20.4 billion by 2020. Total spending on endpoints and services will reach almost $2 trillion according to this same research. Similarly, BCG predicts that by 2020, $267 billion will be spent on IoT technologies, products and services. These aren’t small numbers, and the security industry is looking to find a piece of that puzzle through the continued use of connected devices. In the realm of access control, this means smartphones and wearable technology—such as a wristband—can be used as mobile credentials and allows access to specific sections of a building or campus.

The IoT, in theory, has the potential to offer nearly endless opportunities for connectivity, but also poses significant risk to the safety and security of data in the age of cyber attacks and breaches. But as many leaders know, increased risk doesn’t automatically mean an increase in an organization’s security budget or preparedness plans. Companies that use the IoT within the framework of increasing safety, including access control, must be strategic in the approach. A lag in keeping up with new technology, for instance software updates, can compromise an organization, and leave it open and vulnerable to outside threats. This is why it is critical to employ a more advanced, comprehensive security plan that helps realize increased situational awareness and business intelligence.

The Realm of Success

So, how does the IoT work in the realm of access control technology? Advanced connectivity through smartphones and other devices allows for a much more personalized experience by using mobile credentials, biometrics and analytics in new and innovative ways. On a large scale, the IoT can be applied to a citywide transportation system, using data gathered to measure energy use and identify waste, which can help improve the way we live and work as a society. Within security, this might mean intelligent cameras, intrusion-detection alarms or various sensors that are analyzed at a central point within a security department.

In access control, this means network-enabled door readers that provide increased insight into an organization’s physical security posture, such as throughput rates, traffic patterns and the ability to look at an individual user’s usage. Additionally, this kind of connectivity through network-enabled readers allows an organization to set specific “rules” that can be applied depending on the time of day, day of the week or during special events – the possibilities are endless.

A critical component to venturing into IoT-friendly systems within the security realm is protecting data and privacy. Today’s systems integrators, dealers and security consultants play a crucial role in the deployment of access control systems that use advanced IoT-enabled devices. If an end user or facility manager wants to use connected devices, they must understand and educate users in best practices to protect organizations from risk. For these entities, cybersecurity becomes paramount to success.

The important question is: How does an enterprise manage this endeavor? The answer is by adapting a user-centric design with scalability, tactical data storage and access with appropriate identification and security features. After all, many times we see business success measured by interactive engagement, communication and social media, which makes it important to stay ahead of the game when it comes to the access control industry.

One of the most difficult challenges when it comes to advancing technology is the act of keeping up with it. As industries change and grow, so too do the risks and threats to safety management. While the IoT presents manufacturers, integrators, dealers and consultants with added value for physical security systems, it is critical for all parties to remain cognizant of the potential problems that can arise with such new technology.

This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Security Today.

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