Download PDF version Contact company

Gregor Schlechtriem has worked in the access control market for over 20 years and is now responsible for the Access & Intrusion Business Unit at Bosch Building Technologies. In this interview, the expert talks about key industry trends, the impact of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, technical innovations and his company’s strategy.

Mr. Schlechtriem, you have many years of experience in the security technology market. What is your background and what are your responsibilities as Senior Vice President at Bosch Building Technologies?

Gregor Schlechtriem: I am a trained engineer and electrical technician, and have been involved with access control in the broadest sense, since I started my career in the late 1980s. I started in the field of parking garage technology and then switched to security technology in 2001, as Managing Director of micos GmbH, which specialized in traditional access control.

micos GmbH was known for its highly available and highly secure access control systems, for critical infrastructure and government applications. Many systems from that time are still in use today and continue to be supported and upgraded.

Bosch is continuing micos’ business here?

Gregor Schlechtriem: Exactly, micos was taken over in 2004 by Bosch Security Systems, now known as Bosch Building Technologies. Since then, we have continuously been developing the access control business.

Being part of the Bosch Building Technologies division, we benefit a lot from international cooperation with colleagues

Being part of the Bosch Building Technologies division, we benefit a lot from international cooperation with colleagues and from overlap with other product lines, such as intrusion detection technology and video security. This gives us the opportunity to implement outstanding project solutions for demanding customers in an international environment.

In developing this business, I rely on my experience from other interesting roles at Bosch that I took on, after micos was bought in 2004. For a time, I worked in the European System Integrator Business, which I also had the privilege of managing for several years, as well as being directly responsible for business units.

In Fairport, USA, I had the overall responsibility for intrusion detection technology for many years, as I later did in Eindhoven for video systems. Since 2018, the global access control and intrusion detection business has once again been my direct responsibility.

At Bosch Building Technologies, we have in the meantime assigned sales to the respective business units, so that we can develop our product and solution portfolio, in close cooperation with sales and our regular customers. Our main task now is to make our access control portfolio accessible to a broader market. We want to make Bosch much better known, as an access control provider, in the international market. After all, with our own access product portfolio, the power of the Bosch Group and over 40 years of experience in this sector, we have a lot to offer.

As an expert in access control, how do you see the industry developing? In which direction is it currently evolving?

Gregor Schlechtriem: First of all, I see that security requirements are constantly increasing. Whereas there are currently still simple ‘key replacement systems’ that merely record card numbers, such an approach, to a large extent, no longer meets today’s security and user experience requirements.The core task of access control has not changed over the years

In the beginning, access control was more or less a kind of key replacement. Later, there was the possibility of increasing security via a pin code, i.e., via verification through simple data inputs. The next step in this direction was biometrics, which is another key step up, because it allows verification by means of unmistakable characteristics.

However, the core task of access control has not changed over all the years and has basically always remained the same: access control means determining who has an access request and checking whether this request can be fulfilled.

What’s next on this path to greater security?

Gregor Schlechtriem: Biometrics-based access control is becoming increasingly powerful and user-friendly through the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Here, data protection plays a major role, as wherever identities are established and movement data is recorded, it is necessary to reconcile the evolving technology with data protection.Biometrics-based access control is becoming increasingly powerful and user-friendly through the use of artificial intelligence

The question of data protection is becoming even more significant, as systems increasingly migrate to the Cloud. Bosch puts particular emphasis on ensuring that, even in the cloud, the data generated in access control is always in line with data protection rules, regardless of where it is located.

In my opinion, this trend towards the Cloud will continue, because companies are increasingly looking for complete service offerings, so that they can focus on their core business. Also, a system in the Cloud is easier to maintain and always up-to-date with the latest software, which makes cloud solutions even more attractive for providers and users.

How can higher security be reconciled with a good user experience?

Gregor Schlechtriem: Today, the card still plays a central role in the user experience, as the essential credential. Another current trend is ‘one card for everything’: with the increasing availability of secure multi-function smart cards, the possibility arises to use cards beyond the pure access function, for example, for payment in the canteen, at the catering and coffee machines, and in the parking garage, as well as simple access to other properties and so on.The security of cards has evolved significantly and kept pace with requirements

The security of the cards, the reading and encryption processes, has evolved significantly and kept pace with requirements, although we are also facing an installed base that no longer meets these requirements, due to outdated systems.

Today, it is standard for communications between reader and card to be encrypted. In some cases, the keys are also only held centrally to further increase security.

The security systems industry was also affected by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. How do you think the industry has changed? What technical solutions have emerged during this time?

Gregor Schlechtriem: First of all, there is a certain need for retrofitting in the industry due to changes in how buildings are used. For example, American retailers used to be open around the clock and always had staff on site. Now, due to COVID-19, stores are also closed, and this results in a whole new need for intrusion detection and access control systems to protect the buildings.

For access control, an obvious task has arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, namely to track contacts, as far as this is compatible with data protection. We actually expected more to happen here, but in our observation, many companies did quite little, despite clear and simple steps that could have been implemented relatively quickly. The installed access control systems clearly lag behind the technical possibilities.

Another topic that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus is hygiene

Another topic that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus is hygiene. Companies should actually have invested in contactless systems here and retrofitted speed gates or motorized doors. But in many cases this was not put into practice.

The door opener is still often used, which has to be operated manually and therefore, is touched multiple times. But, if everyone presses the same button, that doesn't help hygiene. Surprisingly, this is different in North America.

Here, ‘request-to-exit’ proximity detectors are used almost everywhere, which avoids this problem completely and releases the door, when an authorized person approaches it.

Mobile access and smartphone-based access control are also growing markets. What kind of developments do you see in these areas?

Gregor Schlechtriem: I already mentioned that users increasingly want to be able to use one card for several applications. But, what we are seeing here is that even with the most modern cards, which have a lot of applications loaded on them, we are reaching performance limits and the user experience suffers.

If you compare the card with the smartphone as a credential, you have a much more attractive integration platform there, which is significantly faster and delivers much better performance. For us, the mobile credential or the smartphone is the future, because it simply offers more possibilities that the card will not be able to provide in the long term.

What is the specific direction Bosch is taking here?

Gregor Schlechtriem: We are currently working on a broad implementation. A whole team is working on the user experience around the smartphone, because it’s understood that smartphone-based access has to work just as easily, as it currently does with a card.A whole team is working on the user experience around the smartphone

In theory it does, but if you look at some of the actual implementations, this topic is still relatively complex. In terms of user experience and automation, we still have quite a way to go, and we are working hard on that at the moment.

The user experience is one side of the coin, the other side concerns establishing security in the smartphone as a whole. In other words: How do I make the smartphone secure enough as a mobile credential, to meet my access control requirements? We are also working intensively on this.

That's actually an IT task. Do you do this yourself at Bosch or do you work with external experts here?

Gregor Schlechtriem: We have our own powerful Bosch IT, which also manages our company smartphones. If our company smartphones are lost, the data on them is automatically deleted.

The devices use biometrics to identify users, before they can access the data. It is a sound security concept that a card cannot offer. Moreover, we are working with other partners in the IDunion project, to create the additional infrastructure around mobile credentials as well.

What exactly is the IDunion and what role does Bosch play?

Gregor Schlechtriem: Digital identities must be openly accessible, widely usable, interoperable, and secure. This applies not only to access control, but to the digitised economy in general. The IDunion project has set itself the task of creating the infrastructure for this, in the form of an independent wallet, i.e., secure identity storage on smart devices.

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWI), because digitisation is also a critical social issue. We are intensively involved in the ‘Physical access to the building’ work package in this consortium. Through this involvement, we want to ensure that our access control systems benefit from this infrastructure and are open to future digital business models.

Does ‘digital identity management’, which includes biometrics and mobile access, also play a role for Bosch?

Yes, it plays an important role for us, and I wouldn’t consider these topics separate

Gregor Schlechtriem: Yes, it plays an important role for us, and I wouldn’t consider these topics separate. For me, a mobile device has the advantage that it has already ensured and verified my identity from the moment of interaction. That’s the fascinating thing about it. If I only allow the device to communicate with the access control system, if I have identified myself first, I have implemented biometrics and access control together in a widely accepted process.

From my point of view, this is a very interesting perspective, in terms of security and user experience, because the biometrics procedures in smartphones are, I think, the best currently available. In my view, the smartphone has the potential to take over central functions in access control in the future.

What are your goals for the access control business of Bosch Building Technologies in the near future?

Gregor Schlechtriem: We will continue to focus on specific solutions for large customers. That is the continuation of our current strategy. In these projects, we will introduce new topics as I have just described, i.e., primarily new technology elements. I believe that, precisely because of the longevity of access control, a long-term migration capability is also of particular importance.

We want to reach out to the broader market and make more widely available, what we have developed in terms of technology and innovation. We are currently in the process of setting up and optimising our sales organization, so that it becomes much more widely known that we at Bosch have our own powerful access control portfolio, which can be used for all kinds of applications.

In addition, we want to differentiate ourselves in the market with our systems, in line with the motto of our founder, Robert Bosch: ‘Technology for life’. The user experience with Mobile Access should be simple, straightforward, and secure: You hold your smartphone in front of the reader and the door opens.

Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

The Automated Future Of Retail And How To Secure It
The Automated Future Of Retail And How To Secure It

While the foundation of autonomous retail has been built up over the past few years, it is only now that retailers are beginning to fully experiment with the technology. There were an estimated 350 stores globally in 2018 offering a fully autonomous checkout process, yet this number is forecast to increase dramatically with 10,000 stores anticipated by 2024. This acceleration in the growth of unmanned retail stores has, in part, been boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic and a demand for a more contactless, socially distanced shopping experience. Physical security technologies Innovative physical security technologies can play a significant role in protecting a site while supporting its operation Many retailers are now exploring such solutions as a way to streamline their services and simplify store operations while reducing overheads. Of course, the security of unmanned sites is a concern, with many eager to embrace such a design, but wary about the prospect of leaving a store unguarded. This is where innovative physical security technologies can play a significant role in protecting a site while supporting its operation and also helping to improve customer experience. Comprehensive integrated solution To make the autonomous retail vision a reality, a comprehensive solution is needed that integrates network cameras, IP audio speakers, and access control devices. The cameras can be employed to monitor entrance points and sales areas, including checkout terminals, and can be monitored and operated remotely from a central control room. This offers management full visibility of operations, regardless of the number of stores. Recorded video material can be processed, packaged, and passed to authorities, when necessary, by applicable laws. Optimizing operations As autonomous stores do not require staff to be present and run largely independently, managers can be notified automatically via mobile device if an event occurs that requires their attention. This could range from a simple need to restock popular items or clean the premises after a spillage, to a criminal break-in or attack. Again, network video surveillance cameras installed inside and outside of the premises provide high-quality video of any incident as it occurs, enabling immediate action to be taken. Improving customer experience Access control mechanisms at the entrance and exit points enable smooth, touch-free access to customers Access control mechanisms at the entrance and exit points enable smooth, touch-free access to customers, while IP audio speakers allow ambient music to be played, creating a relaxed in-store atmosphere and also offering the ability to play alerts or voice messages as required. Due to the automated nature of such audio broadcasting, consistency of brand can be created across multiple locations where playlists and pre-recorded voice messages are matched in terms of style and tone from store to store. Boosting profits The accessibility of premises 24/7 can ultimately lead to an increase in sales by simply allowing customers to enter the store and make a purchase at any time, rather than being restricted by designated retail hours. This also serves to improve customer loyalty through retail convenience. Utilizing data from the access control system, managers can configure lights to turn on/off and ambient music to power down when the last person leaves the shop, to be reactivated the next time someone enters the premises. This approach can also conserve energy, leading to cost savings. Designing a future proof solution The threat of vandalism is greatly limited if everyone entering the shop can be identified, which is something that is already happening in Scandinavia using QR codes linked to an electronic identification system called BankID. This process involves a user being identified by their bank details, and their credentials checked upon entering the store. This not only streamlines the transaction process but vastly improves security because only those who want to legitimately use the services will go through the identification process, helping to deter antisocial or criminal behavior. Physical security technology should be reliable and of high quality, without compromising the service to customers VMS-based network solution Both inside and outside of the premises, physical security technology should be reliable and of high quality, without compromising the service to customers, or hampering their experience. Door controls, network cameras, and loudspeakers, together with a comprehensive video management system (VMS), enable retailers to control every element of their store and remove any uncertainty around its management or security. Such a system, network-enabled and fully scalable to meet ongoing business requirements, can be offered using open APIs; this allows configuration and customization while ensuring that the retailer is not limited by the technology or tied into any particular set-up or vendor as their requirements evolve. Additional security benefits As more businesses launch their unmanned stores, the benefits of such technology to streamline and improve every aspect of their operations become ever clearer. A comprehensive solution from a trusted security provider can bring complete peace of mind while offering additional benefits to support the retail business as it seeks a secure future.

Safety In Smart Cities: How Video Surveillance Keeps Security Front And Center
Safety In Smart Cities: How Video Surveillance Keeps Security Front And Center

Urban populations are expanding rapidly around the globe, with an expected growth of 1.56 billion by 2040. As the number of people living and working in cities continues to grow, the ability to keep everyone safe is an increasing challenge. However, technology companies are developing products and solutions with these futuristic cities in mind, as the reality is closer than you may think. Solutions that can help to watch over public places and share data insights with city workers and officials are increasingly enabling smart cities to improve the experience and safety of the people who reside there. Rising scope of 5G, AI, IoT and the Cloud The main foundations that underpin smart cities are 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Cloud. Each is equally important, and together, these technologies enable city officials to gather and analyze more detailed insights than ever before. For public safety in particular, having IoT and cloud systems in place will be one of the biggest factors to improving the quality of life for citizens. Smart cities have come a long way in the last few decades, but to truly make a smart city safe, real-time situational awareness and cross-agency collaboration are key areas which must be developed as a priority. Innovative surveillance cameras with integrated IoT Public places need to be safe, whether that is an open park, shopping center, or the main roads through towns Public places need to be safe, whether that is an open park, shopping center, or the main roads through towns. From dangerous drivers to terrorist attacks, petty crime on the streets to high profile bank robberies, innovative surveillance cameras with integrated IoT and cloud technologies can go some way to helping respond quickly to, and in some cases even prevent, the most serious incidents. Many existing safety systems in cities rely on aging and in some places legacy technology, such as video surveillance cameras. Many of these also use on-premises systems rather than utilising the benefits of the cloud. Smart programming to deliver greater insights These issues, though not creating a major problem today, do make it more challenging for governments and councils to update their security. Changing every camera in a city is a huge undertaking, but in turn, doing so would enable all cameras to be connected to the cloud, and provide more detailed information which can be analyzed by smart programming to deliver greater insights. The physical technologies that are currently present in most urban areas lack the intelligent connectivity, interoperability and integration interfaces that smart cities need. Adopting digital technologies isn’t a luxury, but a necessity. Smart surveillance systems It enables teams to gather data from multiple sources throughout the city in real-time, and be alerted to incidents as soon as they occur. Increased connectivity and collaboration ensures that all teams that need to be aware of a situation are informed instantly. For example, a smart surveillance system can identify when a road accident has occurred. It can not only alert the nearest ambulance to attend the scene, but also the local police force to dispatch officers. An advanced system that can implement road diversions could also close roads around the incident immediately and divert traffic to other routes, keeping everyone moving and avoiding a build-up of vehicles. This is just one example: without digital systems, analyzing patterns of vehicle movements to address congestion issues could be compromised, as would the ability to build real-time crime maps and deploy data analytics which make predictive policing and more effective crowd management possible. Cloud-based technologies Cloud-based technologies provide the interoperability, scalability and automation Cloud-based technologies provide the interoperability, scalability and automation that is needed to overcome the limitations of traditional security systems. Using these, smart cities can develop a fully open systems architecture that delivers interoperation with both local and other remote open systems. The intelligence of cloud systems can not only continue to allow for greater insights as technology develops over time, but it can do so with minimal additional infrastructure investment. Smart surveillance in the real world Mexico City has a population of almost 9 million people, but if you include the whole metropolitan area, this number rises sharply to over 21 million in total, making it one of the largest cities on the planet. Seven years ago, the city first introduced its Safe City initiative, and ever since has been developing newer and smarter ways to keep its citizens safe. In particular, its cloud-based security initiative is making a huge impact. Over the past three years, Mexico City has installed 58,000 new video surveillance cameras throughout the city, in public spaces and on transport, all of which are connected to the City’s C5 (Command, Control, Computers, Communications and Citizen Contact) facility. Smart Cities operations The solution enables officers as well as the general public to upload videos via a mobile app to share information quickly, fixed, body-worn and vehicle cameras can also be integrated to provide exceptional insight into the city’s operations. The cloud-based platform can easily be upgraded to include the latest technology innovations such as license plate reading, behavioral analysis software, video analytics and facial recognition software, which will all continue to bring down crime rates and boost response times to incidents. The right cloud approach Making the shift to cloud-based systems enables smart cities to eliminate dependence on fiber-optic connectivity and take advantage of a variety of Internet and wireless connectivity options that can significantly reduce application and communication infrastructure costs. Smart cities need to be effective in years to come, not just in the present day, or else officials have missed one of the key aspects of a truly smart city. System designers must build technology foundations now that can be easily adapted in the future to support new infrastructure as it becomes available. Open system architecture An open system architecture will also be vital for smart cities to enhance their operations For example, this could include opting for a true cloud application that can support cloud-managed local devices and automate their management. An open system architecture will also be vital for smart cities to enhance their operations and deliver additional value-add services to citizens as greater capabilities become possible in the years to come. The advances today in cloud and IoT technologies are rapid, and city officials and authorities have more options now to develop their smart cities than ever before and crucially, to use these innovations to improve public safety. New safety features Though implementing these cloud-based systems now requires investment, as new safety features are designed, there will be lower costs and challenges associated with introducing these because the basic infrastructure will already exist. Whether that’s gunshot detection or enabling the sharing of video infrastructure and data across multiple agencies in real time, smart video surveillance on cloud-based systems can bring a wealth of the new opportunities.

How Important Will Body-Worn Cameras Be Moving Forward?
How Important Will Body-Worn Cameras Be Moving Forward?

The death of Michael Brown at the hands of police in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, highlighted to the public, the importance of body-worn cameras. There was no bodycam footage of the Ferguson tragedy. Arguably, it would have shed additional light on the shooting. Since then, body cameras have become a tangible legacy of Ferguson, Missouri. Bodycam footage is seen as providing greater accountability and ensuring an impartial record that can support, or debunk, any claims of police misconduct. Body-worn cameras are also finding their way into broader usage, even including customer service applications. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How important will body-worn cameras be moving forward?