Creating Cloud Platforms

Creating Cloud Platforms

Access control and trusted workplace share responsibility of innovation

Cloud technologies are giving people access through their mobile phones and other devices to a variety of new experiences, while making their workplaces smarter and more data-driven. With the advent of identity- and location-aware building systems, virtual assistants, and “personal IoT” solutions that recognize people and customize their office environment based on deep learning analytics, the workplace is undergoing a period of unprecedented change.

Until now, though, these capabilities could generally only be developed and delivered on an office-by-office, facility-by-facility or, at most, company-by-company basis. This all changes as mobile identities move towards greater adoption plus when an installed base of millions of physical access control system (PACS) readers, controllers, panels and locks, worldwide, are connected to the cloud and IoT and married with location services capabilities. This trifecta provides the opportunity to create a common cloud platform upon which developers can build, deliver and manage innovative and data-driven trusted workplace solutions.

Physical Access Control Transformation

It has been estimated that by 2020, 20 percent of physical access control solutions will be shaped by mobile technology and cloud architectures. Early adopters such as universities and co-working spaces are now even moving to “mobile-only” access-control system models due to the benefits around integrating numerous applications into a unified mobile experience.

First, cloud-based platforms will ensure identity-aware, seamless and more consistent service delivery and user experiences while improving how identity solutions are delivered. For example, bridging biometrics and access control has been challenging in the past, because it requires a trusted platform designed to meet the concerns of accessibility and data protection in a connected environment. These barriers can be addressed through a secured and connected cloud architecture that can remotely manage all readers and users (including onboarding, template loading and enrollment activities for supported authentication modes).

Second, cloud platforms will provide the backbone for quickly adding complimentary applications like secure print, virtual photo ID, and vending as well as other access control use cases and emerging permission-based transaction capabilities yet to be developed. These platforms also give organizations greater flexibility to upgrade their security infrastructure, scale it as they grow, improve maintenance and efficiency, and get the most out of their investments. Key among these is a location services platform that delivers high-value data for a host of new applications and capabilities.

A third benefit of multi-tenant cloud platforms is the opportunity to adopt new, more flexible subscription models that could enable users to more easily replenish mobile IDs if their smartphones are lost or must be replaced. These models have the potential to streamline forecasting, budgeting and reporting while pushing mobile credentials from a product-based model to more of a service-based approach (which also helps organizations move cost from a CAPEX budget to a “pay-as-you-need-it” OPEX line item). Mobile ID subscriptions have the potential to be transferrable across an organization’s employees, and they can be more convenient for administrators to register multiple mobile IDs across multiple devices—whenever they need to and without having to place replenishment orders.

Another example can be seen in 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. 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.

Finally, cloud-based access control will be accompanied by simplified development environments that are designed for easy integration into vertical solutions. This will fuel innovation and a new way to look at workplace design as the convenience of mobile apps is married to the power of insights derived from data analytics (from both location services and access control devices that are connected throughout the workplace). The result: a more intuitive and seamless service delivery, better workflow planning, regulatory compliance, remote hardware configuration, predictive access control system maintenance capabilities. This is in addition to other exciting new operational advances that will benefit the entire access control chain—from application developers to end customers.

Enabling a New Chapter in Physical Access Control

Millions of installed physical access control devices are poised to become a global cloud platform for trusted workplace innovation. They first must be connected to the cloud and supported by software developer kits (SDKs) and open application programming interfaces (APIs).

To enable these connections to cloud-based services, IoT functionality will be embedded in access control panels as app extensions. With these IoT connections, access control systems will deliver realtime data to the cloud, which will facilitate remote diagnostics and a more predictive approach to system maintenance and help protect against emerging vulnerabilities.

The complexity of reader configuration will be dramatically simplified: no longer will it be necessary to guess at the current reader configurations or make manual and time-consuming changes to them. Cloud-connected readers will enable remote inspection or changes to the reader configuration and updates to reader firmware.

These cloud connections will also enable access control systems to join advanced smart building solution set through cloud-based monitoring applications that deliver robust analytics capabilities used to proactively pinpoint and troubleshoot potential system failures. The applications will also monitor secure connections between access control peripherals and trigger firmware updates to address potential cyber threats.

With a cloud connected hardware foundation in place, there will also be a faster, more simplified path from design to deployment, transforming how products and solutions are developed, marketed and scaled across the enterprise, as well as how they are adopted and used. Developers will shift from having to create an entire vertically integrated solution to simply layering an app experience on top of an existing access control infrastructure already connected in the cloud and made easily available through APIs and SDKs. This will fuel market-making opportunities as new players are attracted to the space beyond traditional physical and IT security integrators, resulting in a richer and more vibrant development community focused on bringing to market new and innovative solutions. This community will be supported by new kinds of tools and services for integration enablement and support as compared to the traditional physical access control marketplace.

With this model, the industry will move beyond siloed security and workplace optimization solutions to simplicity, scalability and universality of mobile apps that can be downloaded anywhere across a global footprint of millions of compatible physical access control system endpoints that are all connected in the cloud and IoT.

The relationship between PACS technology suppliers and their integration partners will also evolve. A growing developer community will be able to access a comprehensive offering of integration enablement services, access control cloud services, engineering and IT/ operations resources, sales and pre-sales support, and other customer care support (see Fig. 2).

An Early Adoption Path

Among the most attractive early adoption paths for leveraging cloud platforms in access control are co-working solutions that enable building occupants to use their smartphones to access facilities, book desks, private offices and meeting rooms, and unlock them at the time of their specific appointment.

One example of this type of co-working environment is the Deskopolitan office building in Paris, which serves entrepreneurs who need professional, reliable working spaces to build their businesses. Deskopolitan uses HID Mobile Access to enable building occupants to access their co-working campus in the heart of Paris, conveniently and securely, expanding how occupants and tenants engage, interact and work in their more intelligent workspaces. Deskopolitan can easily provision or revoke mobile IDs, streamlining management with zero compromise on security.

In a similar example, the international property management group Skanska is using HID technology for secure access throughout its new office complex. The company selected HID Mobile Access due to the ease of integrating all of its building applications into a unified mobile experience, including secure access to its parking garage, virtual reception capabilities, access to offices, and other IoT functionality. Today, employees and their guests can now move throughout the building with nothing more than a smartphone and enter restricted areas to which they have been given access rights.

The Honeywell Vector Occupant App is another great example of how mobile IDs and a cloud platform are making it possible for building occupants to use their mobile devices for card-free secure access to a single area of a building, an entire facility or multiple locations around the globe. HID Global partner Datawatch Systems continues to transform the tenant experience across numerous high-rise buildings in the United States, where they have deployed Mobile IDs at major commercial properties to address the increasing demand for property management companies and tenants seeking better ways to interact with buildings where people live and work. The Datawatch system can also be used to analyze HVAC load requirements based on when someone enters or exits a suite or common area and adjust temperature settings accordingly—as well as turn off lights when the last person leaves the area.

Access Control of the Future

Cloud platforms are giving facility managers more information about how their buildings are used for workplace optimization, wayfinding within large campuses and other applications. They are also fueling new opportunities to dramatically expand choices for organizations to get the most out of their physical access control investments by providing the backbone for adding new and emerging technologies, while improving how identity solutions are delivered. A trusted, cloud-connected workplace that utilizes an ecosystem of millions of readers and other devices, applications and trusted mobile identities (Mobile IDs) also give organizations greater flexibility to scale their security infrastructure as they grow, improve workplace efficiency, and enhance their security.

This new world will also provide a rich environment in which developers can continually build innovative applications for the trusted workplace. At the same time, it will usher new ways to innovate, develop and deploy solutions that deliver seamless, even more secure and consistent user experiences, flexible service subscription models, a new way to look at workplace design, and more simplified path from design to deployment in the access control developer community.

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

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