The Value of Smart Security
Before COVID-19 smartphone apps were already a market trend, but now they’re all the rage
- By Wanchai Siriwalothakul
- Aug 02, 2021
Society has come to value the mobility and convenience
of smartphones, tablets and other mobile
devices. The reasons are many, but according to
mobilecoach.com, nine out of 10, or 94 percent
of the population in the United States carry a
cell phone. It is only natural that mobile apps be employed for
facility security at motorized/hydraulic gates and electronicallycontrolled
entrances in multi-tenant properties.
With this in mind, the advent of the COVID-19 has resulted
in a growing demand for contactless access control, which in
turn has resulted in the proliferation of mobile credentials for
smartphones. A secondary benefit is video conferencing, allowing
people in multiple-tenant settings to see their visitor at an
electronically-controlled gate or the entrance of a facility.
Even older generations have embraced the use of smartphones
equipped with a variety of mobile apps. In security, this
allows them to visually screen their visitors, reducing the chance
of erroneously letting in unauthorized persons, create temporary
credentials for pre-authorized guests; and using the smartphone
as the credential.
MOBILE APPS AND CONTACTLESS ACCESS
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), respiratory
droplets can land on surfaces and objects. It is possible that a
person could get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that
has the virus and become infected when they touch their own
mouth, nose or eyes.
Contactless mobile devices make it possible to access multitenant
structures without a keypad or a card reader of any kind
for both apartments and gated communities. Of course, there are
pros and cons in doing so. For example, while this approach provides
hands-free access, especially when there’s an electronicallycontrolled
entrance, if internet service is lost for any reason it can
result in a lock-out situation. Therefore, a backup access method
is often warranted.
One way to achieve hands-free access is to install a small QR
coded sticker on the outside of an entry door or on a gate kiosk.
When the user’s smartphone camera scans the sticker, it will send
the decoded data to a centralized controller over Wi-Fi or the
smartphone’s connection. Another technical methodology combines
cellular with a single-relay unit that’s designed to receive
the appropriate code via cellular means, thus retracting the gate
or releasing the door.
The smartphone-based credential was a market trend even before
CV19. One powerful reason for this is the fact that almost everyone
carries a mobile device. As a result, the majority of access
reader manufacturers are responding to this trend. In fact, some
of them have already added support to near field communication
ADDING VIDEO TO TELEPHONE ENTRY SYSTEMS
When most people think of mobile apps in access control, they
think of the smart doorbell. This market is dominated mostly
by DIY products while apartments, condos and gated communities
have a similar need to allow visitors through shared entrances.
Residents in these communities now demand the same
video calling features that simplify their lives, more companies
are responding to this trend by releasing video enabled visitor
Because of this trend, there’s a growing demand for it across
the board. Access control integrated with video enabled communication
through an outdoor call box positioned at the drive-up
gate and additional doors into the building. Visitors use the system
by selecting the resident from a directory list, usually by a
touchscreen display or a numeric telephone-style keyboard.
The call box will then facilitate a video conference call between
the visitor and the selected resident. He can then identify
the visitor both visually and audibly before granting access,
whether he is on site or away. Using the phone app, he can also
provide a temporary digital credential to pre-authorized visitors,
perfect for the weekly landscaper, pool cleaner or for hosting a
party without having to answer the phone all day.
More sophisticated smartphone apps not only provide video
calls and issue temporary guest passes, but also cater to all of the
needs a typical community resident may have. Residents in modern
communities are demanding features like electronic reservation of
party rooms, gym classes, equipment, cashless vending machines
and electronic voting systems, just to name a few. These features
are typically unavailable in traditional telephone entry and access
control systems without an accompanying mobile app.
SELLING SUBSCRIPTION-FEE BASED SYSTEMS
Due to the continuous costs related to maintaining a software
app, some manufacturers charge a subscription fee, like HID
Mobile Access, or a one-time purchase for the phone-based credential,
usually at a much higher price than a
card/fob. However, a few companies provide
the app for free. Be sure to check your options
This article originally appeared in the July / August 2021 issue of Security Today.