Creating An Internet Of (Trusted) Things

Embracing connectivity and the IoT brings valuable benefits but it also exposes organizations to potential threats to their security, facility processes, and operational integrity.

IoTBy Julian Lovelock
From the November/December 2016 Issue

The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing our lives, transforming everything from personal fitness to home automation and the connected car, while also accelerating changes throughout the modern facility. Offices, hospitals, manufacturing plants, and college campuses are all getting smarter, and the workforce inside these facilities is more mobile and connected than ever before. Embracing connectivity and the IoT brings valuable benefits but it also exposes organizations to potential threats to their security, facility processes, and operational integrity.

A significant fear among facility management is that the links between systems and assets will be compromised in the IoT. The industry has already alleviated these fears in access control applications with the advent of trusted identities that are communicated over protected channels using the latest cryptographic algorithms. Readers and credentials are now essentially trusted devices that are connected to the facility’s access control system. More recently, smartphones have similarly become trusted credentials that can be connected to these systems through the cloud. A natural evolution is to connect these devices within the IoT to enhance physical access control in the future, while making IoT applications more secure and easier to use.

Photo: HID Global

An example of how access control and the IoT are merging in the smart building is the use of mobile access technology to help facility managers efficiently control HVAC systems based on a person entering or exiting a suite or common area using a mobile ID. The HVAC and energy management systems will automatically adjust the settings, for example, turning off lights when the last person leaves the area. This is what one access control systems provider is doing for its customers with a combination of its Datawatch Direct Access System and HID Mobile Access. The company has deployed this mobile access control solution for building entry and access to internal doors, including common areas, elevators, individual suites, and apartments in major U.S. cities. This access control systems provider is exploring further mobile access control integration with more building utility systems.

The same trusted identities used for access control can be extended to many other IoT applications for additional smart building activities. A prime example is automating maintenance management systems that are physically linked to fire and safety equipment, heating and cooling systems, and other critical, high-value assets. For decades, RFID transponders have connected these physical assets to business applications, enabling organizations to manage and track inventory levels and improve operational process efficiency. Now, mobile devices can be combined with trusted tags and cloud authentication to secure cloud maintenance management software (CMMS) applications. Users tag equipment to connect it to the Internet, enabling technicians to then use their mobile devices to tap the tag in order to access these cloud-based CMMS applications.

In this scenario, CMMS users can initiate work orders and service calls, automate technician deployment, monitor and track service events across geographies, and authorize and secure technicians’ transactions using authentication credentials. Tapping the mobile phone to the trusted tag identifies equipment, opens a service ticket, authorizes technician, and provides SLAs, service history, and manuals.

Importantly, this model also makes it possible to track the service start time, duration, and status of completion to improve billing accuracy. From the initial tap to initiate service to the final tap that closes the ticket, the previously manual process is now fully automated, improving workflow while minimizing disruption of equipment productivity.

Marrying access control with IoT applications using trusted identities in the smart building promises to make systems and applications easier for teams to use. The ability to secure CMMS and other IoT applications will make entire processes more seamless and easier to manage from initiation to follow-up, resulting in a more responsive and productive mobile workforce.

IoTLovelock is vice president 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. HID Global is an ASSA ABLOY Group brand.

Do you have a comment? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, or send an e-mail to the Editor at