The safeguarding of premises through the monitoring of entrance and exit points has traditionally been a very manual aspect of security. Human operators have been relied on to make decisions about who to admit and deny based on levels of authorization and the appropriate credentials.

The access control business, like many industries before it, is undergoing its own digital transformation

But the access control business, like many industries before it, is undergoing its own digital transformation; one where the protection of premises, assets and people is increasingly delivered by interconnected systems utilising IoT devices and cloud infrastructure to offer greater levels of security and protection.

Modern access control solutions range from simple card readers to two factor authentication systems using video surveillance as a secondary means of identification, right through to complex networks of thermal cameras, audio speakers and sensors.

These systems, connected through the cloud, can be customized and scaled to meet the precise requirements of today’s customer. And it’s the ease of cloud integration, combined with open technologies and platforms that is encouraging increasing collaboration and exciting developments while rendering legacy systems largely unfit for purpose.

Remote management and advanced diagnostics

Cloud technology and IoT connectivity means remote management and advanced diagnostics form an integral part of every security solution.Cloud technology and IoT connectivity means remote management and advanced diagnostics form an integral part of every security solution.

For example, as the world faces an unprecedented challenge and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause disruption, the ability to monitor and manage access to sites remotely is a welcome advantage for security teams who might otherwise have to check premises in person and risk breaking social distancing regulations.

The benefits of not physically having to be on site extend to the locations within which these technologies can be utilised. As an example, within a critical infrastructure energy project, access can be granted remotely for maintenance on hard to reach locations. Advanced diagnostics can also play a part in such a scenario.

When access control is integrated with video surveillance and IP audio, real-time monitoring of access points can identify possible trespassers with automated audio messages used to deter illegal access and making any dangers clear. And with video surveillance in the mix, high quality footage can be provided to authorities with real-time evidence of a crime in progress.

Comprehensive protection in retail

The use of connected technologies for advanced protection extends to many forward-looking applications. Within the retail industry, autonomous, cashier-less stores are already growing in popularity. Customers are able to use mobile technology to self-scan their chosen products and make payments, all from using a dedicated app. From an access control and security perspective, connected doors can be controlled to protect staff and monitor shopper movement.

Remote management includes tasks such as rolling out firmware updates or restarting door controllers, with push notifications sent immediately to security personnel in the event of a breach or a door left open.

Remote monitoring access control in storage

In the storage facility space, this too can now be entirely run through the cloud with remote monitoring of access control and surveillance providing a secure and streamlined service. There is much to gain from automating the customer journey, where storage lockers are selected online and, following payment, customers are granted access.

Through an app the customer can share their access with others, check event logs, and activate notifications. With traditional padlocks the sharing of access is not as practical, and it’s not easy for managers to keep a record of storage locker access.

Online doors and locks enable monitoring capabilities and heightened security for both operators and customers. The elimination of manual tasks, in both scenarios, represents cost savings. When doors are connected to the cloud, their geographical location is rendered largely irrelevant.

Online doors and locks enable monitoring capabilities and heightened security
Online doors and locks enable monitoring capabilities and heightened security for both operators and customers

They become IoT devices which are fully integrated and remotely programmable from anywhere, at any time. This creates a powerful advantage for the managers of these environments, making it possible to report on the status of a whole chain of stores, or to monitor access to numerous storage facilities, using the intelligence that the technology provides from the data it collects.

Open platforms powers continuous innovation

All of these examples rely on open technology to make it possible, allowing developers and technology providers to avoid the pitfalls that come with the use of proprietary systems.

The limitations of such systems have meant that the ideas, designs and concepts of the few have stifled the creativity and potential of the many, holding back innovation and letting the solutions become tired and their application predictable. Proprietary systems have meant that solution providers have been unable to meet their customers’ requirements until the latest upgrade becomes available or a new solution is rolled out.

This use of open technology enables a system that allows for collaboration, the sharing of ideas and for the creation of partnerships to produce ground-breaking new applications of technology. Open systems demonstrate a confidence in a vendor’s own solutions and a willingness to share and encourage others to innovate and to facilitate joint learning.

An example of the dynamic use of open technology is Axis’ physical access control hardware, which enables partners to develop their own cloud-based software for control and analysis of access points, all the while building and expanding on Axis’ technology platform.

Modern access control solutions range from simple card readers to two factor authentication systems using video surveillance as a secondary means of identification
Modern access control solutions range from simple card readers to two factor authentication systems using video surveillance as a secondary means of identification

Opportunities for growth

Open hardware, systems and platforms create opportunities for smaller and younger companies to participate and compete, giving them a good starting point, and some leverage within the industry when building and improving upon existing, proven technologies.

This is important for the evolution and continual relevance of the physical security industry in a digitally enabled world.

Through increased collaboration across technology platforms, and utilising the full range of possibilities afforded by the cloud environment, the manufacturers, vendors and installers of today’s IP enabled access control systems can continue to create smart solutions to meet the ever-changing demands and requirements of their customers across industry.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

Author profile

John Allen Business Development Manager - Physical Access Control at Axis Communications, Axis Communications

In case you missed it

COVID-19 Worries Boost Prospects Of Touchless Biometric Systems
COVID-19 Worries Boost Prospects Of Touchless Biometric Systems

Spread of the novel coronavirus has jolted awareness of hygiene as it relates to touching surfaces such as keypads. No longer in favor are contact-based modalities including use of personal identification numbers (PINs) and keypads, and the shift has been sudden and long-term. Both customers and manufacturers were taken by surprise by this aspect of the virus’s impact and are therefore scrambling for solutions. Immediate impact of the change includes suspension of time and attendance systems that are touch-based. Some two-factor authentication systems are being downgraded to RFID-only, abandoning the keypad and/or biometric components that contributed to higher security, but are now unacceptable because they involve touching. Touchless biometric systems in demand The trend has translated into a sharp decline in purchase of touch modality and a sharp increase in the demand for touchless systems, says Alex Zarrabi, President of Touchless Biometrics Systems (TBS). Biometrics solutions are being affected unequally, depending on whether they involve touch sensing, he says. Spread of the novel coronavirus has jolted awareness of hygiene as it relates to touching surfaces such as keypads “Users do not want to touch anything anymore,” says Zarrabi. “From our company’s experience, we see it as a huge catalyst for touchless suppliers. We have projects being accelerated for touchless demand and have closed a number of large contracts very fast. I’m sure it’s true for anyone who is supplying touchless solutions.” Biometric systems are also seeing the addition of thermal sensors to measure body temperature in addition to the other sensors driving the system. Fingerscans and hybrid face systems TBS offers 2D and 3D systems, including both fingerscans and hybrid face/iris systems to provide touchless identification at access control points. Contactless and hygienic, the 2D Eye system is a hybrid system that combines the convenience of facial technology with the higher security of iris recognition. The system recognises the face and then detects the iris from the face image and zeros in to scan the iris. The user experiences the system as any other face recognition system. The facial aspect quickens the process, and the iris scan heightens accuracy. TBS also offers the 2D Eye Thermo system that combines face, iris and temperature measurement using a thermal sensor module. TBS's 2D Eye Thermo system combines face, iris and temperature measurement using a thermal sensor module Another TBS system is a 3D Touchless Fingerscan system that provides accuracy and tolerance, anti-spoofing, and is resilient to water, oil, dust and dirt. The 2D+ Multispectral for fingerprints combines 2D sensing with “multispectral” subsurface identification, which is resilient to contaminants and can read fingerprints that are oily, wet, dry or damaged – or even through a latex glove. In addition, the 3D+ system by TBS provides frictionless, no-contact readings even for people going through the system in a queue. The system fills the market gap for consent-based true on-the-fly systems, says Zarrabi. The system captures properties of the hand and has applications in the COVID environment, he says. The higher accuracy and security ratings are suitable for critical infrastructure applications, and there is no contact; the system is fully hygienic. Integration with access control systems Integration of TBS biometrics with a variety of third-party access control systems is easy. A “middleware” subsystem is connected to the network. Readers are connected to the subsystem and also to the corporate access control system. An interface with the TBS subsystem coordinates with the access control system. For example, a thermal camera used as part of the biometric reader can override the green light of the access control system if a high temperature (suggesting COVID-19 infection, for example) is detected. The enrollment process is convenient and flexible and can occur at an enrollment station or at an administration desk. Remote enrollment can also be accomplished using images from a CCTV camera. All templates are encrypted. Remotely enrolled employees can have access to any location they need within minutes. The 3D+ system by TBS provides frictionless, no-contact readings even for people going through the system in a queue Although there are other touchless technologies available, they cannot effectively replace biometrics, says Zarrabi. For example, a centrally managed system that uses a Bluetooth signal from a smart phone could provide convenience, is “touchless,” and could suffice for some sites. However, the system only confirms the presence and “identity” of a smart phone – not the person who should be carrying it. “There has been a lot of curiosity about touchless, but this change is strong, and there is fear of a possible second wave of COVID-19 or a return in two or three years,” says Zarrabi. “We really are seeing customers seriously shifting to touchless.”

How To Use Threat Intelligence Data To Manage Security In The Age Of COVID-19
How To Use Threat Intelligence Data To Manage Security In The Age Of COVID-19

COVID-19 has already had a huge impact on the global economy. According to Statista, GDP growth globally will drop from around 3% to 2.4% - equivalent to a drop of around $35 trillion worldwide. In sectors like oil and gas, the impact is particularly acute: IHS Markit predicted that the reduction in oil consumption due to COVID-19 has led to a first-half surplus of 1.8 billion barrels of crude oil. The macroeconomic trends around these worldwide sectors point to harsher economic conditions and recession. For companies in the oil and gas sector running complex operations around the world, this will lead directly to tougher trading environments and a lot of necessary belt-tightening when it comes to costs around operations. Indirectly, the potential recession could cause more civil unrest and security threats for them as well. To cope with these potential challenges, companies will have to look at how they can maintain security for their operations and prevent risks as much as possible. Taking a contextual approach to physical security With these two goals in mind, looking at threat intelligence data should be considered. Threat intelligence refers to a set of data that can be used to judge current and future trends around risks, from everyday crime or political changes through to larger events like civil unrest, terrorism or the current pandemic. Based on data around these issues, companies can make better decisions on how they invest and manage their security posture in advance. Behind this overall approach, however, there are a significant number of moving parts that have to be considered. This includes where the data comes from, how it is used, and who is using the data. Companies can make better decisions on how they invest and manage their security posture The first consideration for threat intelligence is where data comes from. Typically, companies with large oilfields or refinery operations will have large investments in physical security to protect these environments, and part of this spend will include intelligence on local market, political and security conditions. Using this forecast data, your security leadership team can ensure that they have the right resources available in advance of any particular problem. This data can come from multiple sources, from social media data and crowdsourced information through to government, police and private company feeds. This mass of information can then be used to inform your planning and decision making around security, and how best to respond. However, one issue for oil and gas companies with distributed operations is how much data they have to manage over time. With so many potential sources of information all feeding back in real time, it’s hard to make sense of what comes in. Similarly, companies with international teams may have different sets and sources of data available to different parts of their organizations - while each team has its own view of what is going on, they may be missing out on contextual data from other sources held by neighbouring teams or by the central security department. Without a complete picture, it is easy to miss out on important information. Making threat intelligence smarter To solve this problem - and to reduce the costs around managing threat intelligence data - centralizing your approach can make it easier to provide that context to all your teams and stakeholders. Rather than letting each team set up and run their own threat intelligence approach, centralizing the data and letting each team use this can reduce costs. More importantly, it can improve the quality of your threat intelligence approach overall. By applying a combination of algorithms and security analysts to evaluate threat intelligence centrally, you can improve the quality of the data that you have coming into the organization in the first place. This approach provides higher quality data for decision making. However, a centralized approach is not enough on its own. Local knowledge and analysis is always useful. Consequently, alongside any centralization approach you have to have better filtering and search capabilities, otherwise you risk teams not being able to get the information that is particularly relevant and timely to them. This approach of bringing together centralized management of data feeds with more powerful tools for local teams to find what they want and get that access in real time represents the best of both worlds. Planning ahead Scenarios vary from a best case return to pre-crisis revenues of $50 to $60 per barrel by 2021 or 2022 According to consultancy firm McKinsey, the oil and gas sector faces an enormous challenge over the next few years. Scenarios vary from a best case return to pre-crisis revenues of $50 to $60 per barrel by 2021 or 2022, through to a worst case scenario where demand never returns and the industry has to undertake managed decline around some assets and look for new market opportunities in others. Whatever scenario plays out in the real world, security for existing assets will be a continued requirement. Planning ahead using threat intelligence data will be essential whatever happens. To help reduce costs and improve data quality, centralizing this approach will help. Without this mix of global oversight and local detail, companies will find their operations hampered and wrong decisions are made. It’s only by applying threat intelligence data in the right context that security teams will be able to keep up with the challenges of the future.

What Are the Security Challenges of the Oil and Gas Market?
What Are the Security Challenges of the Oil and Gas Market?

Protecting the oil and gas market is key to a thriving economy. The list of security challenges for oil and gas requires the best technology solutions our industry has to offer, from physical barriers to video systems to cybersecurity. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the security challenges of the oil and gas market?