The Impact of Coronavirus

The Impact of Coronavirus

Control what you can, take preventative measures

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.

ENTER FRICTIONLESS ACCESS CONTROL

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 control.

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 from anywhere.

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 are clean.

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 and GSOC.

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.

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