Tapping into Touch-free Digital

Tapping into Touch-free Digital

Experiences with trusted-Identity technologies

As the world glimpses a return to more “normal” life, one change seems likely to endure: the preference for touch-free digital experiences. The global pandemic both accelerated the world’s digital transformation and re-oriented it to a model that reduces or eliminates physical touch-points and in-person contact.

Now, the same touch-free trusted-identity technologies that are being used to help re-open the workplace are proliferating across a wide variety of use cases that benefit from the safety, security, convenience and efficiency of contact-free interactions with both the physical and digital worlds.

Touch-free identity technology is being adopted in an extensive variety of enterprise applications, from automating physical distancing and contact tracing protocols to simplifying how users enter secured areas and access print resources and other building services. They also are enabling employees to work securely from home and giving consumers greater confidence in financial transactions ranging from online banking to verifying the authenticity of high-value collectible items at the point of sale.

The New Hybrid Workplace Mobile solutions used for access control and building management are creating safer, more secure, and more convenient experiences in the modern workplace. They are also reinforcing the role of trusted identities as a linchpin for more efficient, touch-free and resilient building environments—especially during the COVID- 19 pandemic.

Mobile IDs carried on smartphones and other devices eliminate the need to physically touch cards, readers or keypads. Users present their smartphone to a reader to open doors, gates and elevators. They also provide touch-free access to time-and-attendance terminals, cashless vending machines, and printers, computers and workstations. Additionally, the ability to issue mobile ID credentials over the air removes the need for person-to-person ID card issuance or revocation of physical cards for both employees and visitors. And, ultra wide-band (UWB) and other technologies will take convenience even further in the future.

Visitor management has also been adapted to a more hands-off experience. Cloud-based solutions limit face-to-face interaction through self-service check-in. The badging process itself no longer requires visiting a crowded issuance center with cloud-based solutions that enable cards to be designed and printed from any office or satellite campus, on any device via a web interface.

The iconic Arcos Bosques Tower 1 in Mexico City offers one example of the appeal of the touch-free access experience. HID Global’s smart card readers and mobile access solution deliver integrated access control capabilities for approximately 3,500 tenants and visitors that pass through the tower’s 32 elevators and 16 turnstiles each day. Those who are using the mobile access capability say they prefer it to using physical cards.

“Accessing the building by simply presenting a mobile phone makes a lot of sense as we look for ways to eliminate touching things during the global pandemic,” said Santiago Morett, project manager with the company’s building management firm, Servicon. “HID Mobile Access has given us touch-less entry and safer building security, which is more important than ever for our tenants.”

Other touch-less workplace experiences are enabled through wearable wristbands. One example is the Nymi band which, once authenticated, continuously authenticates the identity of the user until it’s removed from the wrist. This delivers zerotrust security principles and access control using convenient fingerprint and heartbeat biometrics to users seeking touch-less authentication.

Organizations that want these touch-free access experiences in both the physical and digital workplaces are increasingly taking a cloud-based approach to how they issue and manage the associated identity credentials. This unifies, automates, and simplifies identity issuance and management at a single facility or across any number of distributed office or remote work locations. While reducing the need for in-person interactions to issue and manage identities, this approach also improves the visitor experience through reduced wait times and the ability to use self-service badging kiosks.

Safe and Healthy Campuses University campuses have their own unique requirements. According to Mark Brown, director of Business Services Technology at Vanderbilt University, student safety is the number one priority. “We need to make sure that students are in a safe environment.” The university is using HID’s mobile access credential technology so the university’s credential holders to use their smartphone, tablet or wearable device to unlock doors.

In addition to delivering building security, management and utilization benefits, wireless technologies and Bluetooth beacons have been integral to implementing automated physical distancing and contact tracing policies during the global pandemic. Bay State College in Boston and Taunton, MA, safely brought its students back to its campuses using a digitized contact tracing solution that includes simple HID Bluetooth BEEKs Beacons in the form of badge holder to provide real-time location services. Jeffrey Myers, chief information officer with Bay State College, stated “HID BEEKS beacons are carried by each person on campus as part of our solution that enabled us to safely resume in-person classes and keep our campus operational should isolated parts of our community find themselves infected.”

Additionally, beacons and cloud-based solutions can provide rule-based physical distancing management for immediate insights and alerts that help keep employees compliant with safety and sanitation requirements to ease the burden of tracking new health and safety procedures.

Government Services Governments are tapping into the touch-free experience through digital versions of mandatory national identity documents. For example, the government of Argentina has accorded full legal equivalence to the smartphone version of its national identity credential, which it offers within a mobile app to its citizens. Citizens who download the app on their mobile devices can request appointments, receive health information and access credentials such as their driver license.

Mobile credential technology is also poised to support the arrival of vaccine passports in Europe. One government is seeking to use NFC technology and smart cards to validate immunization status. This offers a more secure and accurate way to validate vaccination status than easily forged paper cards.

Tapping the card to a mobile device establishes a secure connection to a health authority’s web service, which sends back a web page displaying real-time vaccination information. These types of solutions fully comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy requirements, and each time the card is read, its authenticity can be validated using the advanced dynamic cryptographic features of the smart card’s embedded microprocessor.

Consumer Applications Among the biggest adopters of the touch-free experience is the banking segment. Consumers have embraced the convenience of online and mobile transactions at traditional banks and the latest all-digital financial institutions, especially during the global health crisis. The latest authentication solutions protect data and transactions while delivering a seamless experience for the consumer and maximum flexibility for banks. This includes the option of cloud-based authentication services that remove the complexity of providing multi-factor authentication to a growing and diverse user population while also offering the convenience and efficiency of centralized regulatory compliance audits. These authentication options include mobile apps that allow users to verify access requests and transactions in an intuitive and easy-to-use manner.

Authentication is also important to consumers purchasing rare collectible items, and this has become a touch-less experience, as well. Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), a division of Collectors Universe, embeds HID’s trusted NFC tags into its coins and the sonically sealed, tamper-evident holders into which they are encapsulated.

“We want collectors to be confident that when they have PCGS-authenticated, -graded, and -encapsulated coins and banknotes in their hands, they are holding an authentic and valuable collector’s item,” said Brett Charville, president of PCGS.

With a simple tap of a phone to the coin, the collector authenticates the coin through HID’s cloud authentication service, in real time. Each tap generates a unique cryptographic one-time URL that automatically launches Collectors Universe’s proprietary PCGS Cert Verification app or opens a web browser to display information about the coin’s or banknote’s authenticity. Since each tap generates a unique URL, the information cannot be cloned or manipulated by a counterfeiter.

A third example of today’s new touch-free experiences for consumers is the completely contact-free dining experiences offered by UK-based qiiosk Ltd. through its MenuTile offering. HID NFC Tags facilitate the end-user interactions with qiiosk’s placards. Restaurant goers simply scan the QR code or tap the embedded NFC tag with an NFC-enabled smartphone or tablet to securely access menus, ordering, and payment options. Customers can access up-to-the-minute menus and place orders for in-person, takeaway, or delivery dining.

Moving forward, biometrics are poised to become even more mainstream to further advance the security and convenience of these touch-free experiences. Whether it is opening doors, printing documents, interacting with connected buildings and digital consumer services, or implementing physical distancing and contact tracing protocols, touch-free trusted-identity technologies have proven that they are here to stay

This article originally appeared in the May June 2021 issue of Security Today.

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