Across the globe, healthcare providers and facilities from care homes to hospitals and private clinics are working around the clock to reduce the risk to their staff and reduce the spread within their facilities. There are increasing reports in the UK that the virus has devastating effects in care homes, with fears that the US will be next in tow.

The impacts on healthcare staff have also been stark with absence levels growing. In some health bodies across the UK up to almost 20% of their staff are off sick.

The consequences of COVID-19 are clear to see in the short term, but it may also drive the need for technology that will help mitigate against pandemics and the spread of disease in the long term. One of these technologies that offers some promise is long-range RFID. 

The value offered is more than just security and safety

Why long-range RFID? The value offered is more than just security and safety. Implemented correctly, it not only helps minimize the dangers posed to staff and patients, but also helps improve the efficiency and workflow around the facility. Here are 5 reasons long-range access control is part of the solution:

Reduce contact spread of viruses

Most viruses spread through droplets inhaled from someone else’s cough or sneeze. But a common indirect way of infection is germs being passed on when people touch surfaces such as doors, pin pads and handles.

This can lead to the dangerous spread within healthcare facilities as it only takes one infected person to spread the virus to those that touch the same surface. Hence, during the current times of peak capacity, the risk increases. The right long-range access control solution can help minimize the risk by reducing shared contact points.

Integrating vehicle and people access

Long-range RFID is gaining traction as a complete people and vehicle solution. As an ideal solution that automates vehicle access without the need for ticket stations, pin pads or manned gates, members of staff can now go from their doorstep to the room they are required in without having to touch surfaces in order to access the car park and building.

All of this can be done from a card that is transferred from a special holder in your car to a land yard for centrally managed, hands-free access around the facility.

Card readers providing hands-free access around the facility

More efficient building workflow

Time is a precious commodity for medical staff and any time that is wasted on trying to enter the building, search for a badge or entering a PIN should be limited. Once in the building, a long-range electronic ID badge allows automated access around the building without having to present a card to the reader. For more emergency situations, its also common to attach cards to push trolleys, wheelchairs and other heavy equipment to help protect staff and patient safety.

Fight against theft

It’s a sad circumstance that in times of crises, theft is an issue that healthcare facilities have to deal with. Amid global shortages, there have been numerous cases of masks, medical equipment and other supplies being stolen from hospitals.

A modern access control solution using long range readers can help by keeping supplies locked in a dedicated room with access granted only for approved staff ID badges, whilst also restricting access in staff car parks to only approved staff members.

Proactively manage the flow of staff members in your facility

Access control software offers a unique insight of real-time data

Access control software offers a unique insight of real-time data into key staff members and their movements within the building. This software can then compile the data collected into reports which can help reveal bottlenecks in the flow of staff members around the facility.  

In the case of an emergency, an access system with connections to readers and cameras, can lock/unlock certain doors, or revoke access to particular people in case their badge was stolen.

Whilst we cannot accurately predict what the world will look like post COVID-19, long-range RFID technology could prove to be a powerful tool going forward. It offers solutions that go beyond just security, and helps healthcare facilities build a better future by improving workflow, manage medical equipment, protect patients, staff and visitors from infection and future pandemics.

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Industry Experts Reflect On Technology And Operational Impacts Of COVID-19 Pandemic
Industry Experts Reflect On Technology And Operational Impacts Of COVID-19 Pandemic

Close collaboration with customers has been a hallmark of the physical security industry for decades. And yet, less ability to collaborate face-to-face to discuss customer needs has been a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. “True innovation, which comes from close collaboration with customers, is more difficult to achieve remotely,” said Howard Johnson, President and COO, AMAG Technology, adding “Not being able to visit in person has not been helpful. Kurt John, Chief Cyber Security Officer at Siemens USA, adds “We need to plan intentionally with a strategic approach for collaboration and innovation.” Securing New Ground virtual conference Security experts from three manufacturers reflected on the impact of COVID-19 on the physical security industry Security experts from three manufacturers reflected on the impact of COVID-19 on the physical security industry at a ‘View from the Top’ session, during the Securing New Ground virtual conference, sponsored by the Security Industry Association. Their comments covered business practices during the pandemic and the outlook for technology innovation in response. “We had to pivot quickly on business models and create a cross-portfolio team task force to discuss how we can leverage technologies to help customers [during the pandemic],” said John, adding “We are having outcome-based conversations with customers about their businesses and operations, and how we can combine short-term benefits with long-term growth and flexibility.” But some of those conversations are happening from a distance. Results-oriented approach in remote work environment After the pandemic took hold, Siemens shifted rapidly to remote work and embraced other infrastructure changes. “We had to refocus and lead with empathy, flexibility and trust,” said John, adding “We gave our staff flexibility to set their hours and used a results-oriented approach.” There is also a social element missing in the work-from-home model. “Virtual coffee machines do not replace being there in person,” said Pierre Racz, President and CEO, Genetec, adding “Small talk about the weather is important psychological elements.” Positives in using multi-factor identity management He predicts that, in the future, office hours may be reduced, but not floor space, with space needed for in-person collaboration and long-term social distancing. Employees will come to the office to do collaborative work, but can work from home to accomplish individual tasks that may be ‘deferred’ to after-hours, when the kids have been fed. When the pandemic hit, Genetec had resumed 95% of their operations within 36 hours, thanks to their use of multi-factor identity management. They did not suffer from malware and phishing issues. “Multi-factor is really important so that well-engineered phishing campaigns are not successful,” said Pierre Racz. Shift to ‘Zero Trust’ model All three panelists noted a coming skills gap relating both cyber security and systems integration Remote working technologies are shifting to a ‘zero trust’ model, in which access to systems is granted adaptively based on contextual awareness of authorized user patterns based on identity, time, and device posture. For example, an office computer might have more leeway than a home computer and a computer at Starbucks would be even less trusted. The approach increases logical access security while providing users their choice of devices and apps. Skills gap in cyber security and systems integration A growing skills gap has continued throughout the pandemic. “Where we have vacancies, we have struggled to find candidates,” said Howard Johnson. All three panelists noted a coming skills gap relating both cyber security and systems integration. New technologies will clearly require new skills that may currently be rare in the workforce. Cyber security will become even more important with growth in new technologies such as AI, machine learning, 5G and edge computing. A workforce development plan is needed to address the technologies and to enable companies to pivot to new business needs, said John. Adoption of temperature sensing solutions From a technology viewpoint, Johnson has seen attention shift to the reception area and portal, away from touch technologies and embracing temperature sensing as a new element. There have also been new requests for video and audio at the portal point, to create methods of access and egress that do not require security personnel to be present. “Some customers are early adopters, and others are waiting for the market to mature before investing,” Howard Johnson said. “Security companies have been faced with the need to respond rapidly to their customers’ needs during the pandemic, but without seeming like ‘ambulance chasers’,” said Pierre Racz. In the case of Genetec, the company offered new system capabilities, such as a 'contamination report', to existing customers for free. Move to a hybrid and flexible work environment In the new normal, the pendulum will swing back to the middle with more flexibility and a hybrid approach" An immediate impact of the pandemic has been a reduction in required office space, as more employees have worked from home, raising questions about future demand for office space. “The pendulum tends to swing to the extremes,” said Kurt John, adding “In the new normal, the pendulum will swing back to the middle with more flexibility and a hybrid approach.” “Users will be much more careful about letting people into their space, which requires more policies and procedures,” said Lorna Chandler, CEO, Security by Design, who participated in a panel at Securing New Ground about how the pandemic is changing commercial architecture and access control. “Users should also be careful in the rush to secure premises from COVID-19 that they don’t violate HIPAA laws or create other potential liabilities,” adds Chandler. Continuum of mechanical and electromechanical devices Mark Duato, Executive Vice President, Aftermarket, ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions, said a “Continuum of mechanical and electromechanical devices is needed to protect premises and ensure convenient operation of an access control operation.” “First and foremost, the immediate reaction to the impact of COVID-19 is to rush to educate and invest in technologies to increase the ability to analyze people,” said Duato, who also participated in the access control panel. Shift to touchless, frictionless access control “The move to touchless, frictionless access control “is really a collaboration of people, process and technology,” said Valerie Currin, President and Managing Director, Boon Edam Inc., adding “And all three elements need to come together. Touchless and frictionless have been in our market for decades, and they’re only going to become heightened and grow. We’re seeing our business pivot to serve markets we have not served in the past." More and more data is a feature of new systems, but is only helpful when it is analyzed. “We all live in a world of data, or IoT and sensor technology,” said ASSA ABLOY’s Mark Duato, adding “But we don’t want to be crushed by data. Data is only helpful when you can reduce it to functional benefits that will help us innovate. We have to take the time to squeeze the value out of data.”

How Integrators And Their Customers Reacted To COVID-19 Pandemic
How Integrators And Their Customers Reacted To COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a double challenge to physical security systems integrators. For one thing, they have had to adapt their own businesses to survive and thrive during the pandemic. On the other hand, they have also been faced with new challenges to serve their customer’s changing needs. Global pandemic effects One integrator company, North American Video (NAV) took the now-familiar steps most companies confronted to adapt their business model to operations in a global pandemic – they suspended all non-essential travel and face-to-face meetings. At one point, NAV had a single employee in the New Jersey headquarters and another one in the Las Vegas office. The rest worked from home, with other offices opening as needed over the following weeks. Another integrator, Convergint Technologies, was able to adapt its approach to the pandemic, location by location, across the United States. The integrator benefitted from its leadership structure, with local managers in various regions who are autonomous and could react to what was happening in each region. Virtual workforce “We saw a dip in April and May, but since then, we have seen business pick back up,” said Mike Mathes, Executive Vice President, Convergint Technologies. The Business of Integration virtual conference sponsored by the Security Industry Association (SIA) “We already had tools and infrastructure deployed to support a virtual workforce. We had the software and the right equipment, and that has allowed us some flexibility to approach the repopulation of our offices in a gradual way.” The impact of COVID-19 on integrators and their customers was the main topic of discussion at a session on The Business of Integration at the Securing New Ground virtual conference sponsored by the Security Industry Association (SIA). Remote monitoring North American Video also benefitted from having technical personnel spread across the United States. By assigning work duties on the basis of geography, they could travel by car with less risk than air travel. They also increased their use of remote monitoring and support to avoid extra visits to customer sites. With 80% of the business in the gaming industry, North American Video saw a profound impact on their customers with the almost complete shutdown of casinos during the early days of the pandemic. Even though gaming was impacted particularly badly by the virus, NAV stayed engaged working on four or five large casino construction projects that continued throughout the shutdown. Revenue shortfalls State legislatures will approve more casinos to help plug the holes in their budgets Other casinos took advantage of empty facilities to make needed upgrades without worrying about disrupting casino operations. “A lot of our strong, long-term clients have sought to perform upgrades during the downtime, including needed service and maintenance,” said Jason Oakley, President and CEO, North American Video (NAV). “When gaming was closed, you were allowed in the facilities to work.” Oakley also sees long-term optimism for the casino business, which will offer a means for state and local governments to make up revenue shortfalls. “State legislatures will approve more casinos to help plug the holes in their budgets,” Oakley predicted. Demands for technology Oakley and NAV have seen an evolution in customer demands for technology in light of the pandemic. The trick is to differentiate between demand that is an immediate reaction versus technology trends that have more staying power.  Although customers were keen on purchasing thermal cameras, for example, NAV did the research and recommended against the use of the technology to some of their customers. Artificial Intelligence for social distancing The use of artificial intelligence (AI) for a variety of applications seems to have more staying power. “One area of interest at a high level is modification and repurposing of AI for face mask detection, social distancing and people tracing, including integration into existing cameras,” said Oakley. “If the hospitality industry comes to terms with the new normal with smaller restaurant capacities, there may be an opportunity to use AI for social distancing.” Contact tracing and visitor management technology Mathes of Convergint sees a massive change as customers move toward managed services, accelerating the change with new use cases. We have an entire group that focuses on new solutions and what customers are looking for" As offices seek to repopulate when the pandemic subsides, customers are looking for new uses of existing technologies, added Mathes. “We have an entire group that focuses on new solutions and what customers are looking for,” he said. “They need to understand who is in the building and where they go in the building. If we know someone was only in the cafeteria from 10 to 11 a.m., we can know who was in the cafeteria at that time.” Opportunity for vertical markets to move forward He predicts technologies for contact tracing and visitor management tracking who’s in the building and where will be around for a long time to come. "Various customers and vertical markets are looking at the slowdown differently," said Mathes. "For example, while airlines have slowed down, the view from the airport market is more long-term." “They have 15-year plans, and [the slowdown] is an opportunity to move forward. In the technology space, data centers are expanding. “We try to focus our resources on areas where the money is being spent,” said Mathes. “Our K-12 group has seen an 80% growth over 2019. The money is tied to bonds, so there hasn’t been a slowdown relative to revenue.” He said Convergint is cautiously optimist about 2021.”

The Future Of Property Security: In-House Processing Units Versus Cloud-Based Video Surveillance Systems
The Future Of Property Security: In-House Processing Units Versus Cloud-Based Video Surveillance Systems

Nowadays, everything seems easier in the matter of surveillance. Sophisticated technology safeguards our valuables for us without asking for anything in return. But what if it’s not true? What if it comes with a price? Video surveillance systems are a popular way to keep the property under constant control. It’s not rare that the technological sophistication of these systems puts us in awe. They make us feel, and be, safe. Yet, there are doubts when it comes to ensuring privacy. And these worries are understandable. Privacy abusers wait around every corner. Some of the fish for data coming from our monitoring systems. Should we then give up and go back to the in-person property guarding? Not really. Countless advantages make an intelligent video surveillance system worth trying. How to find the best solution within the video surveillance systems? Which system is the most secure in protecting us from the threats of privacy abuse: in-house processing unit, or the cloud? Desire for safety Every human wants to feel safe. At the bottom of Maslow's "Needs Hierarchy," there are two most essential points. We desire to fulfill our physiological necessities - the need for food, water, warmth, and rest. In the second place, also fundamental is a need for security.Security doesn’t only mean keeping burglars away from the property Today's fast-paced world changes its outer expression, yet the significance of security is constant. We crave to feel safe and we are ready to do a lot to achieve it.  The core truth to begin with when it comes to security is its definition. Security doesn’t only mean keeping burglars away from the property. If it did, we would be content with any camera surveillance system, regardless of its privacy threats. The issue is more complex. Humans value their privacy. Not only keeping our valuables safe but also being away from the sight of others matters to us. We put efforts to protect our privacy, whether it comes to houses, businesses, or sensitive data. Data privacy Why is it so important? Ongoing cases of privacy invasions prove that data finds "new owners" very fast. These data takeovers can result in a major inconvenience and robbery on a large scale. Main privacy threats are information collection, processing, dissemination, and invasion. We want to protect data obtained by video surveillance systems. Privacy and security are sometimes compared to water and oilThese are, for example, video registrations, times of entrance to the property, number and identities of visitors, etc. Privacy and security are sometimes compared to water and oil. They say you can have security but you’ll lose privacy. They say you can have privacy, but you’ll lose security. These common convictions inspired a new generation of companies to create privacy-first security solutions. They are, in other words, security systems focused on not sacrificing privacy. Cloud-based systems Most of the time, popular video surveillance systems but at the same time insecure when it comes to privacy are running on the cloud. There has been a long discussion about its safety and it continues to raise privacy concerns. These systems too often fail in ensuring privacy, and they are vulnerable to hacking. Ring, Nest, and other home security companies experienced compromising mishaps on a large scale. It's not a secret that some cloud-based companies partner up with police departments. Also, if your data is too available, tech companies can sell it to advertisers.Data uploaded onto the cloud is exposed for anyone to meddle with Data uploaded onto the cloud is exposed for anyone to meddle with. According to the book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism_ The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff “Nest takes little responsibility for the security of that information and none for how other companies will put it to use. In fact, University of London legal scholars Guido Noto La Diega and Ian Walden, who analysed these documents, reckon that were one to enter into the Nest ecosystem of connected devices and apps, each with their own equally burdensome terms, the purchase of a single home thermostat entails the need to review nearly a thousand contracts.” Security and privacy vanish once a smart home system enables remote access. In-house processing units It all leads to the conclusion that keeping data in the in-house processing unit is safer and more private. It keeps us away from the eyes of governments, corporates, advertisers, and hackers. And since the market is proactive, solutions in that department came fast. Thanks to the advances to the internet of things (IoT), edge computing, and machine learning, it will be possible in the near future to find different surveillance private-secure systems on the market. A privacy-centered "architecture" processes and stores camera footage inside the propertyThey will combine the most advanced technology with sophisticated privacy protection. In the in-house option, a privacy-centered "architecture" processes and stores camera footage inside the property. For example, one Seattle-based startup is working on a solution that uses specialized IP cameras that work in groups with an edge computing device. An AI (artificial intelligence) algorithm analyses all the footage taken by the cameras. Once it detects anomalies, it notifies the final user. Those systems don't upload any of the customers' data to the cloud, they keep privacy and all the information at the customer's home. The in-house processing unit can learn to differentiate what its user marks as important. The system captures and saves only those pieces of information. Smart surveillance systems To give an example: users who wish to know when their dog is outside can set the cameras to detect it. If they wish to turn a blind eye to burglars, they are free to do it. Smart surveillance systems work with facial matching and pose detection technology. They can detect individuals that haven’t logged on to the system. This tool respects an ethical protocol. It isn’t sensitive to a specific gender, race, or age. Its purpose is to detect behavior identified as suspicious without targeting individual identities. By identifying people who aren’t a part of your daily routine, the system cuts any kind of security risk. The in-house processing unit video surveillance systems "do the watching" for you. The newest in-house processing unit video surveillance systems will sharpen the feature of crucial importance - privacy protectionThat revolutionises the way we think about security. The system that integrates all the security visual sensors into the “brain” of the system is the smartest and safest idea on the market. This “brain” later decides whether to notify the user about the potential danger or let it go. It deletes every irrelevant piece of data on the spot. This kind of cognitive machinery saves both your time and bandwidth. Thanks to them, you get rid of unnecessary alerts. The newest in-house processing unit video surveillance systems will sharpen the feature of crucial importance - privacy protection. The newest technology offers a plenitude of sophisticated surveillance methods. Our task is to choose the right one. The one that not only protects our properties and valuables but also our privacy.