The Impact of Coronavirus
Control what you can, take preventative measures
- By Jim Lantrip
- Mar 02, 2021
The advent of a global pandemic
has rapidly upended
the way we work and live
our day-to-day lives. As the
government has identified
security and access control as part of the
essential workforce, our universe has been
front and center for the sweeping shift taking
place with office policies and procedures
to minimize the effect of the virus.
It has never been more important to
control what you can and take preventive
measures to ensure health and safety for
the future. As social distancing mandates
have altered the way we go to work, dine,
shop and visit service providers, companies
have had to amend their business
practices. In the access control sector,
there have been major initiatives to innovate
new tools and techniques to help stop
the spread of the pandemic.
The access control sector has been on
the cutting edge in developing and deploying
innovative technology. Consider entering
into a commercial building that has
future-proofed its access control. Push
aside, the traditional access control card
where the card is touched to the reader
and you wait for the click which signals
access. All that touching, clicking and
pointing includes putting your hands on
more objects and surfaces. All that extra
touching could result in an elevated risk of
spreading the virus.
Frictionless access control permits access
to an area by using mobile applications
on a smart phone. This technology was
around well before the pandemic, but the
advent of COVID-19 has fast-tracked frictionless
access control into primetime.
These apps leverage capacitive sensing
and Bluetooth to allow completely
frictionless access control. Employees
and contractors no longer have to carry a
badge or present credentials. Team members
can keep their mobile device in their
pocket or purse and wave their hand near
the reader and the door will unlock.
More systems are coming onto the
market that don’t require a traditional
card reader at the entrance door. They
employ software that can use access the
mobile device’s location to determine their
proximity to the door for hands-free access
Businesses are still trying to navigate
how to ensure the security of their
physical spaces and assets without having
someone on site, and how to handle daily
operations if they shift some or all of the
team to a remote working environment.
Even with less people coming into the
workplace, there are many security risks
to consider in addition to the health and
safety of their employees.
Because workplaces are prime locations
for COVID-19 to spread, many businesses
who are now operating with minimal staffing
or a fully remote workforce are making
major changes to who has building access
and how employees, contractors and
visitors are coming and going.
REMOTE SECURITY MANAGEMENT
More companies and commercial buildings
are transitioning to cloud and mobilebased
security systems which simplify site
management without the dependency on
local servers or on-site staff. With pandemic
security at heightened importance,
having a system that can be managed
remotely offers enhanced control and
flexibility. Remote security management
includes many innovative tools and techniques.
Instant credentialing. Employees can
use their mobile phones to access the facility,
and visitors can access the facility at
set times via a text or email link.
Remote unlock. Unlike unlocking a
door by presenting a credential or key to
the lock itself, remote unlock allows that
any entry point can be remotely unlocked
Elevated body temperature monitoring.
Body temperature measurement systems
are a fast and safe way to measure
body heat and can be seamlessly integrated
into access control systems.
Contact tracing. Using Bluetooth contact
tracing technology that interfaces
with access control, companies can observe
their workforce social distancing and
record contact distance and duration.
Lockdown. A client we work with
was confronted with rioting outside their
building. We were able to implement a remote
lockdown, which can be implemented
from anywhere, that closed all the doors to the facility and ensured our client’s safety inside the premises.
Schedule changes. Managing building closures, changes in
staff hours, across multiple offices can be done by the security administrator
remotely. The ability to make real-time changes keeps
access available and facilities secure.
Real time alerts. Workers can get notified immediately about
potential security threats such as nearby protests, or interior
physical security threats like a critical door propped open, so that
the facility is secure when workers aren’t there.
Integration critical. Depending on the legacy system, there
are many integration opportunities to streamline a current system
with other tools, offering an enhanced security experience.
For example, we work with many clients who integrate video
monitoring with remote security management so that the system
administrator can remotely access and monitor real-time video
feeds in conjunction with access events.
What is the “gold standard” for pandemic access control?
Powered by artificial intelligence and Bluetooth, the access control
system is integrated with a video platform which weaves medical
safety technologies into the security practice.
As more people receive COVID-19 vaccinations and the world
begins to normalize again, it is likely that society will experience
a seismic shift in what is considered acceptable when it comes to
health and hygiene. Everyone is extremely aware of all the things
we touch during the day – from door handles to light switches. We
all wash our hands much more regularly and use hand sanitizer as
we are reminded not to even touch our own faces lest are hands
Innovating new ways to reduce contact is essential in a postcoronavirus
world, especially in the workplace where we spend
the majority of our time. Ensuring that the access control program
includes comprehensive hands-free options will be important
to ensure safe business in 2021 and beyond.
It is important that facilities managers work with a trusted
system integrator to assess the systems and processes currently
in place to best understand where they are at risk, allowing you
to make informed, and personalized decisions when they begin
implementing changes to their security platform and processes.
A well thought out access control solution gives you the flexibility
to tailor the system to suit the unique needs of your business,
whether you’re building a complete access control solution
from the ground up, or if you have a legacy system in place and
need to add new capabilities such as cloud hosting/management
Few people predicted a global pandemic, so let it serve as a
reminder that we never know what’s next. We need to constantly,
plan and prepare for any and all eventualities. It
is important to build a robust and flexible access
control solution that will best serve and protect
our most importance resources, our people.
This article originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of Security Today.