Growing Adoption

Cloud and trusted identity technologies drive more intelligent customer experiences

Cloud platforms and trusted identities are emerging as the fundamental building blocks for creating secure environments that more effectively connect an organization’s people, places and things. Organizations who embrace the power of the cloud, combined with mobile and IoT technologies, will redefine the user experience. At the same time, these technologies enable more unified credential solutions, and they pave the way for significantly improving workplace services and business processes.

One of the drivers for cloud adoption is that cloud security has expanded significantly. As confidence in these platforms grows, demand is rising to use trusted identity solutions in the cloud and benefit from its many advantages. Adoption will escalate with increased awareness of the cloud’s ease of deployment, flexibility, connectivity options and productivity benefits. Cloud-based platforms will provide the backbone for adding new and emerging technologies while improving how identity solutions are delivered. They also will give organizations greater flexibility to upgrade their security infrastructure, scale it as they grow, improve efficiency and adopt new lower-cost managed service models.

Cloud-based platforms will fuel new solutions that expand choices for organizations to get the most out of their investments. Among the most attractive options are solutions that provide location services so that organizations have more information about how their buildings are used for workplace optimization. Organizations are adopting technology that expands how building occupants and tenants engage, interact and work in new intelligent workspaces. In addition, such innovations enable facility managers to proactively provide a safer working environment, achieve a smarter building equipment maintenance experience, and comply with myriad of local and federal inspection mandates.

Another benefit of the cloud is that it creates the opportunity for new managed service models. As an example, cloud-based ID card issuance platforms that give users the option for hardware, software and other resources to be leased and their costs bundled into a service offering billed on an annual or monthly-installment basis are now available. The service model not only cuts multiple layers of program costs but also makes it easier for administrators to scale the card office to accommodate future technology capabilities or changing volume demands. Administrators can opt to have commercial printing bureaus produce large card batches during peak demand periods. In general, cloud-based services deliver all the benefits of centralized issuance control and visibility along with the option of performing distributed or batch printing, while improving user convenience.

This model is particularly attractive to large healthcare and university campuses. At the university level, campus cards have long enabled users to buy meals, check out library books, open dorm room doors, and more. These institutions are seeing the benefits of embracing the cloud to evolve the way in which campus cards are being issued. Instead of issuing cards using one or more PC workstations, each connected to a nearby printer, universities are making a shift to cloud-based solutions for a new, remote card issuance experience. This move is also transforming ID card printers into edge devices within the Internet of Trusted Things (IoTT).

An even broader range of capabilities are possible when cloudbased platforms are combined with mobile technologies and the IoT.

A Mobile Tipping Point

Mobile access control is gaining popularity as solutions mature, and are integrated into other systems. Until recently, the notion of a credential on a mobile device was a niche for a small segment of the market. However, their ability to provide greater operational efficiency, enhance the user experience, deliver increased security and integrate with other systems has now positioned mobile access as a strong option for many organizations in the mass market. Demand will be greatest in the following use cases: opening doors with a smartphone; using a mobile device as an authenticator for applications such as identity verification to protect online banking applications or while accessing a digital network; or carrying an ID such as a driver’s license on a phone.

The more mobile form factor options there are for carrying trusted identities, the better, so that organizations can support the broadest range of use cases. Smart watches and personal biometric devices are the most common wearables for use in the enterprise environment today, and the extended use of wearables for enterprise access solutions continues to be part of the conversation. These devices are getting smarter and more common with support for a growing number of applications.

Other mobile access benefits will become evident, especially as solutions are integrated across whole buildings and campuses. The technology will prove its ability to enhance user convenience on a large scale, and the shift to verifying identities via mobile phones will also reveal a trend toward digital cohesion, in which everything is interconnected and available on an app—from verifying login to a bank account or VPN, to using a phone as a mobile driver license, to verifying the authenticity of a physical credential.

Embracing advanced technology has not been limited to mobile credentials alone; the move away from de facto Wiegand to the Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) standard is also poised to be a major disrupter for access control. High profile exposure of legacy Weigand vulnerabilities, coupled with the desire for a more connected experience when managing readers, has driven demand for the OSDP standard.

Although NFC offers an attractive alternative to consider for the future in access control, Bluetooth remains the only ubiquitous communication standard that enables cross-platform support for mobile access today. Still, organizations investing in infrastructure today are considering readers that support both communication standards to be ready to embrace new experiences as the mobile device industry changes rapidly. Access control reader technology will also adapt to leverage the power of mobile technology and cloud platforms. Organizations will use a mobile device to provision readers, inspect installed readers and detect their current configuration, upgrade them to new capabilities and/or revoke access to them.

More Connected Experiences in the IoT

More than ever, smartphones carrying trusted IDs are enabling a growing range of other secure, on-the-go smart building management capabilities that connect the world of people with the world of things. For instance, a new class of security solutions adds trust to NFC tags that can then be affixed to mechanical keys and also positioned at locations throughout a facility so that, as an example, key checkout can be automated and guards on patrol can log their presence at a security checkpoint using cloud-based authentication.

Organizations can combine this same technology with Commercial Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) solutions to enable secure transactions between fire and safety equipment and online maintenance systems to help simplify fire and safety processes and facilitate compliance to city mandates.

Today, using BLE beacons, cloud services and current mobile networks has also significantly reduced the infrastructure costs to deploy smart building IoT applications. BLE–to-Wi-Fi location services provide facility managers with real-time visibility into when a specific area is being used throughout the workday to assist in space planning and overall building use—from individual offices and shared workspaces to heavily used conference rooms.

For example, building occupants and visitors can easily navigate throughout a facility using location services for directional assistance, making it easier to collaborate, locate team members, and instantly find meeting spaces. IoT-based innovations can also add another level of security by enabling facility managers to assign access to specific secure zones in a room, manufacturing floor, or any area that requires an additional layer of zone-based security.

There are many opportunities for organizations to these capabilities across a number of vertical markets and requirements. For example, healthcare organizations can use real-time location services to optimize workflows in emergency departments and clinical operations and provide wayfinding for patients and visitors navigating the hospital. Access control systems are also being extended to create more activity-aware environments in industries such as oil & gas, where it is crucial for security teams to receive the precise location of employees during emergency or “man down” situations.

Combining mobile technologies, trusted identities and the cloud will have a dramatic impact on the workplace. It will fuel more intelligent environments and even more comprehensive secure identity experiences that are easier to deliver and manage.

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Security Today.


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