By Julian Lovelock
Security challenges continue to grow in the smart facility and throughout today’s increasingly connected world. These challenges must be addressed in ways that combat threats while delivering a more satisfying and convenient, on-the-go experience. The goal is to make facility security more pervasive and personalized, seamless, and adaptive to the user rather than the other way around. Achieving this goal will not only make people safer, but will also accelerate innovation in how building services are offered and delivered. In addition, solutions will simultaneously meet user demand for greater privacy protection across a growing number of connected digital aliases, credentials, applications and permission parameters in both the physical and digital worlds.
New types of on-the-go, trusted digital identity technologies are meeting these facility challenges across a variety of vertical market segments. Mobile access solutions have started rolling out at university campuses and enterprise organizations , turning phones into IDs that can be used to open doors, just like an employee badge or campus ID card. The same concept is being used in the hospitality industry, enabling hotel guests to receive digital keys over the air to their phones ahead of their trip so that they can go directly to their rooms, bypassing the front desk upon arrival.
These and other on-the-go trusted identity solutions are facilitating a more convenient experience as occupants enter and exit facilities. They are also being used to enable such trusted identity applications as logging time and attendance, making purchases at the facility cafeteria, and opening parking garage gates. Another rapidly emerging application is accessing data and cloud-based services and applications by simply tapping a smart ID badge to laptops, tablets, phones and other NFC-enabled devices. (Editor’s note: This definition of Near Field Communication is from TechTarget. (NFC) is a short-range wireless connectivity standard (Ecma-340, ISO/IEC 18092) that uses magnetic field induction to enable communication between devices when they’re touched together, or brought within a few centimeters of each other.) Multi-layered security strategies will continue be critical for protecting these systems and assets as well as the user identities that facilitate authentication. Biometrics will play an increasingly important role, offering the potential to eliminate digital identity theft while making security even more convenient.
Additionally, smartphones carrying trusted IDs are enabling a growing range of other secure, on-the-go smart building management capabilities that connect the world of people with the world of things. For instance, a new class of security solutions adds trust to NFC tags that can then be affixed to mechanical keys and also positioned at locations throughout a facility so that, as an example, key checkout can be automated and guards on patrol can log their presence at a security checkpoint using cloud-based authentication.
Wearables and other mobile devices are now joining the device ecosystem, giving users even more choices and flexibility for implementing secure identity solutions in the smart building. Choice is particularly important for users, who continue to be the most important elements and yet weakest links in any security strategy. As the security experience improves and users have more options for more convenient, on-the-go security procedures that actually empower users with new capabilities, the gap will close between security planning and user compliance. Users will be able to choose any combination of ID cards, phones or other mobile devices, and the coming years will bring even more options.
Beyond Access Control: The Smarter Building
Another application for trusted NFC tags in the smart building is for implementing Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) that protect company assets while extending the life and performance of capital equipment. With a solution based on a combination of trusted tags and cloud authentication, CMMS users can monitor and track service events locally, regionally or globally, and authorize service technicians or inspectors through strong authentication credentials. Field inspection teams can tap their phones to a tag on a piece of equipment to verify their identity and that of the equipment, they can acquire the equipment service history and repair manual, they can open a service ticket, and they can confirm the time, duration and status of the service call upon completion.
The same approach can be used to manage inspection and compliance activities with full reporting and audit trails, and to streamline factory process monitoring and other activities in the Internet of Things (IoT). In all of these examples, solutions were previously expensive and difficult to deploy because they required that ID readers be installed in an environment. Now, the ubiquitous mobile phone acts as the trusted ID reader, and the mobile network provides a closed-circuit authentication environment in which all tag and ID transactions can be similarly trusted because they are protected by end-to-end encryption. The trusted cloud-based model is especially valuable for organizations that must manage programs at many, geographically dispersed facility locations.
The issue of protecting people and assets in the smart building will continue to move to a strong experience-driven focus. New trusted ID solutions will have a dramatic impact on how facilities are designed and built, and make daily life easier and more productive for occupants that continue to be the most important elements in any security strategy. Moving forward, ongoing advancements in the security experience will begin to close the gap between security planning and user compliance.
Lovelock is VP of Innovation and Platform Strategy at HID Global, a provider of products, services, and solutions related to the creation, management, and use of secure identities for millions of customers worldwide. HID Global is an ASSA ABLOY Group brand.