Guide to Mobile Access Control

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Guide to Mobile Access Control

In this fast-paced digital world, technological advanced has successfully substituted manual operations considerably. Consequently, it is impossible to imagine waking up without mobile phones. From waking up to the sound of the alarm clocks, setting up a meeting with clients, to doing online conferences, mobile phones have become an integral part of our quotidian existence, serving a plethora of functions. Going by the recent trends, mobile devices are ruling the world, shaping up the way we handle different systems to connect with people. Many security personnel work with mobile devices to monitor a specific area.  This leads us to the newest innovation in mobile technology – the mobile access control. With mobile access controls, we are better disposed to access, view, and manage critical events by simply installing security software on the phone. Inadvertently, this technology, which is rapidly emerging as a viable alternative to physical access systems, ushers a new era of enhanced management activities. 

Introduction to Mobile Access Control System

Mobile access control systems offer access to secured buildings, rooms and areas to the users with just a couple of clicks on mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets and wearable devices.  Apart from enhancing the operational convenience and ease of operations, such systems provide operators with a cost-effective solution for efficient management of identification credentials.  As a highly efficient control system for the mobile-enabled workers, mobile access controls are undeniably a potent alternative to physical cards. 

mobile access control
Figure 1: The World of Mobile Access Control

There are many access control systems available in the market, from local systems that are operated by local servers to personalized cloud-based access control systems with numerous high-end features. Although local systems require one-time investment, the smartphone access is much more economical for long-term applications.  The major variants of smartphone access control system include IP systems, control panel systems and mobile access credentials. The following segments offer a brief insight into the all of these systems.

IP Systems

For start-ups or small companies, who work with only a handful of suppliers and clients, managing contacts is hardly a difficult task. However, big companies those deal with thousands of clients across the globe might fail to work with local systems. The cloud-based IP systems are specially designed for giant business, enabling them to access and manage data in the cloud.

Control Panel Systems

Control panel systems have a number of applications. They are often installed locally, allowing users to manage credentials and generate reports. These computerized systems, which are installed at workspaces, can be integrated into the security systems, ensuring the safety of the workforces.

Mobile Access Credentials

For many reputed institutions, controlling the access of office spaces can be a big concern. Mobile access credentials can be a boon to companies, enabling operators to keep a track of the entry/exit of the employees. Mobile access credentials are a secure way for license key holders to access a particular location. Some common advantages of these systems include ease of operation, improved security, and remote control of a specific location. The mobile-enabled employees can enter into a specific physical location with a few clicks on their phones. All accesses are generally managed in the cloud with an administrator granting and revoking mobile credentials.

With more and more companies, both small and big, appropriating mobile access control systems, these systems have become an indispensable part of security systems in the corporate world. As opposed to printed identity cards and physical documents, mobile access control offers a more convenient experience for both workers and administrators.   

Understanding the Differences between a Regular Access Control System and a Mobile-based Access System 

Access control has only one purpose, allowing/revoking access to resources or locations within the office premises. Access control can be broadly classified into two categories, physical access and smartphone access. While the former restricts access to rooms, areas and valuable assets, the latter can also limit access to computer networks, digital files and classified data. In this ever-growing digital world, it is crucial for businesses to shield discreet information. 

mobile phone access
Figure 2: Mobile Phones Used as Security Keys

Physical Access Control 

Physical access control regulates the entry and exit of employees to a particular space. Some common examples of physical access control systems are: 

  • Fob controlled gates
  • RFID doors
  • Password Protected Systems 

Although physical access control can be a reliable option, proper access control measures must be taken to ensure an effortless transition from one space to another.  

Cloud-based Mobile Access Control 

The mobile access control mostly comprises of identification, authentication, and authorisation systems. This type of access control is very different from physical access control which uses badges, keys and other physical tokens to get access to a particular location or asset. Businesses and other institutions accommodate a wide array of mobile access control systems, including password protected programs, biometric security systems, and other identification tools. With mobile access control systems, all accesses are regulated in the cloud by specialised security agents.     

mobile access control how it works
Figure 3: The Mechanism of a Mobile Control Access System

The Technology behind Mobile Access Control Systems

Mobile access control systems come with a variety of technologies to enable smart access to restricted spaces and data. The following segment discusses the major technologies used in the cloud-based mobile access control systems.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

Generally, mobile access control manufacturers rely on Bluetooth to enable smartphone-enabled worker to communicate with a remote reader. Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE allows devices to communicate with remote users without the hassles of manual pairing.  Long ranges of communication, including several feet, are done effortlessly with this Bluetooth technology, as it provides sufficient bidirectional bandwidth to power a secure connection.  

Near Field Communication (NFC)

Apart from Bluetooth, other technologies like NFC can be used in mobile access control. NFC, the abbreviation for Near Field Communication, enables to set up a communication between a reader/lock and a mobile device. One disadvantage of NFC is that it only supports a limited range of communication, usually between a few of inches, and is unavailable to iPhone users that use iOS technology.  

NFC access control
Figure 4:  NFC Technology

Mobile access control technology overview

Some popular technologies used in these control systems include:

- Transmission standards: Bluetooth, NFC, RFID

- IT equipment: Internet Switches, Cat6-cable, PoE in Access Control

- Technologies: Wireless Access Control, PACSInternet of Things (IoT)

Some of these control systems also come with QR-code detecting capabilities. In such cases, the reader is provided with a QR-code scanner for reading the employees’ code. This technology has the widespread popularity for allowing abundant flexibility to users. Today, almost all major platforms rely on a cloud-based service to generate a personalized security number. The reader or the lock is provided with this specific number to enable access to specific locations/assets. 

The Benchmarks of the Best Mobile Access Systems

With the growing popularity of mobile access control, the market is booming with cloud-based logical access control systems. Under such circumstances, it is quite difficult to select a reliable system that will allow the best mobile access solution. What are the benchmarks of a standard mobile access system? Discernibly, there are some essential criteria that enable consumers to distinguish a good selection from a bad one. For the customers’ convenience, here are the features that all good control systems embody: 

  • Credential options
  • Access reporting solutions
  • Visitor management options 
  • Provisions for time tracking
  • Customer support
  • Self-service documentation

Before installing any high-end security system, it always recommended to carry out a thorough research to ensure a good selection.  

How do Users Deploy a Mobile Access System?

With smartphone users reaching 4.7 billion in 2017, the use of phones as security keys comes across as a convenient alternative to physical badges. Mobile access systems can be installed in all major commercial sectors, small start-ups to affluent organisations, to enable enhanced security. Let’s check out some ways to deploy the mobile access system. 

  • Such smartphone-enabled systems can be appropriated in the office buildings for ordering, distributing and managing users’ credentials.
  • With mobile access control, providing mobile credentials to the workforce is primarily done through emails. Generally, the identification number or code is securely sent to users’ smartphones, granting them access to specific locations and IT assets. 
  • Administrative bodies or security professionals can use batch uploads via CSV or Excel files when adding users. 
  • With these systems, employees don’t need to check in to remote locations to flash temporary physical tokens. The access will be regulated virtually in the cloud, ensuring an outstanding user experience.  

With abundant flexibility and advanced security, mobile access control signals a revolutionary leap in the security management. 

Final Thoughts 

The physical access control systems have given way to more advanced cloud-based systems that ensure smooth access to restricted spaces and classified documents, guaranteeing a convenient end user experience. Equipped with leading-edge technologies, such as Bluetooth, NFC, RFID, Internet Switches, Internet of Things (IoT), PoE in Access Control, PACS, Wireless Access Control and Cat6-cable, mobile access systems are widely adopted by all leading brands worldwide for the efficiency of their operations. Consumers seeking such advanced security solutions are recommended to gather sufficient insight into these systems before installation to ensure best results for their companies. 

Sources: 

http://vitanigroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Mobile-Access_UK.pdf

https://www.hidglobal.com/solutions/hid-mobile-access

http://www.nedapidentification.com/news/insights/the-truth-about-mobile-access-control.html

http://avigilon.com/news/IT/going-mobile-with-access-control/

https://www.mistralsolutions.com/access-control-mobile-phones-future-near-field-communications/

https://www.axis.com/in/en/solutions-by-application/mobile-access-control

http://mintcontrols.com/understanding-the-difference-between-physical-access-control-and-logical-access-control/

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