October 2020

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The Future of Access Control in Automated Buildings

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the world and made safety more important than ever. Employers are now responsible to provide healthy and safe workplaces and many are looking to access control solutions to do just that.
imran Staff Writer at Swiftlane,

Imran Anwar has 10+ years of professional writing experience about technology-related topics including digital marketing, cloud computing, SaaS, mobile apps, artificial intelligence, IoT, face recognition, and building access control systems

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The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the world and made safety more important than ever. Employers are now responsible to provide healthy and safe workplaces and many are looking to access control solutions to do just that. A recent Markets and Markets report predicts the highest growth rate for biometric reader-based access control systems. What is biometric access control and is it the best type of access control for the post-COVID-19 workplaces? Lets take a look.


Biometrics: The Natural Born Credential

According to Science Direct, a simple definition of biometric technologies is as follows:


Biometric technologies generally refers to the use of technology to identify a person based on some aspect of their biology.


The Biometrics Institute, which represents a multi-stakeholder global community, defines at least 15 types of biometrics, including DNA, fingerprints, facial, iris, retina, gait, odor, voice, and others. But not all of them are used for access control.


Biometrics and Access Control

doorBiometric access control involves the use of the individuals biological data to allow or deny access to a facility or certain areas of a facility. The types of biometrics most commonly used for access control include:

Facial Recognition

Facial recognition technology makes use of artificial intelligence and computer vision to read and recognize faces. The facial recognition access control systems include a face reader that captures the face of the subject, converts it into a digital signal, and sends it to a cloud-based or on-site server for matching with authorized face credentials. Access is granted if the presented credential matches the stored credential and denied if there is no match.

Iris or Retina Scanning

A retinal scan identifies the most unique pattern of blood vessels in a persons retina. It is performed by casting an invisible beam of low energy infrared into the persons eye when they look at the scanner. The major limitation of retinal scanning is that the person has to focus on the scanners eyepiece from about three inches away. This biometric technology is rarely used for building or office entry, but is often deployed at high-security facilities that only a handful of people are authorized to access.

Fingerprint Scanning

Fingerprint scanning provides an inexpensive and quick way to control access at offices. Fingerprints cannot be duplicated and are a reliable biometric credential that can be tied to a specific individual. They have been used in forensics as well as access control and attendance management since the 1970s. But the outbreak of COVID-19 has made contact-based scanners unsafe for access control. As a result, the sales of contact-based fingerprint scanners are forecast to decline by $1.2 billion this year.


Where Is Biometrics Access Control Best Deployed?


Biometrics is the only form of credential that can be permanently tied to an individual, which makes it very effective for law enforcement, subject tracking and forensic investigations. Biometric access control is most often used at workplaces where a high level of security is required. That seems like every other workplace these days.


Iris and retina scanning are deployed at immigration and border control, secret government facilities, research laboratories such as CERN, and other facilities that require an exceptionally high level of security.


Facial recognition technology was widely deployed for security and clandestine subject identification at airports and border controls after 9/11. Today, many private businesses including Amazon, MasterCard, Chevron, Tesco, Walmart, McDonalds and many other companies are using or planning to use facial recognition for a variety of purposes—from authenticating payments to analyzing moods.


Fingerprint scanning is used at banks for account holder verification and at all types of offices for physical access control and time and attendance management. Touch-based fingerprint scanners are likely to take a hit because of COVID-19 and may lose market share to touchless access control systems.

Benefits of Biometrics


Employee Management: Biometrics is a reliable way of knowing who went in through the entry and exit and for how long they were in the office. It helps improve employee accountability, particularly if you have a workplace where people work in shifts at night and on weekends and holidays.


Quick Enrolment: You dont have to print key cards or badges. A fingerprint scan or face photo is all you need to enroll people into the system. With Swiftlane face recognition access control, for example, the user just has to snap a photo of their face to get enrolled.


Fast Check In: With face recognition access control, users dont need to pull out keycards or mobile phones from their purse or pocket and can unlock the door by looking at the face reader. Its a major advantage at busy entries and can prevent queues from forming as people line up for scanning their badges.


Enhanced Efficiency: With biometrics, you dont have to worry about lost, forgotten, or stolen badges. It saves tons of time and allows security teams to focus on other things rather than printing and issuing badges on a daily basis.


Extra Security: Biometric credentials are more secure than mobile credentials or key cards. Keycards, fobs, and badges can be lost, stolen, or duplicated, apart from having many other limitations. The use of biometrics also makes it possible to implement dual authentication, which is the holy grail of security these days.


Low Maintenance Cost: Once the biometrics access control is installed, theres almost no maintenance cost to be paid. You dont have to invest in a printer or waste money on printing and mailing cards, badges or fobs.


User Convenience: Mobile, PIN and card based access control systems create friction when someone forgets their card, forgets the PIN or has a dead phone battery. With biometrics, theres no chance of forgetting or missing anything.


Health and Safety: The COVID related guidelines require the minimization and continual cleaning and disinfection of common-touch surfaces such as keypads and touch screen displays. Contact-based fingerprint scanners also fall under the category of common touch surfaces, by face recognition biometrics coupled with automatic doors allow people to unlock the door and enter the premises in a completely touchless way.


Scalability: Biometrics access control is suitable for a small local business as well as global enterprises. Contemporary biometrics systems have a lot of flexibility and can easily accommodate additional employee data. Cloud-based biometrics systems can be easily scaled to manage multiple locations via a single dashboard that can be used from around the world.


Integration: Being cloud-based, modern biometrics systems can be integrated with other building security and management systems such as security alarms, video intercom, surveillance cameras, HVAC, and visitor management systems.

Fast-Forward to the Future

Just as the pandemic continues to underline the importance of creating safer workplaces. biometrics is forecast to be the fastest growing access control technology between 2020 and 2025. Facial recognition access control, with a projected growth rate of 16.6%, is likely to overtake other types of biometrics. Would you say using facial recognition for access control at commercial buildings is a good idea? Let us know in your comments!




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