Smartphones in the workplace have the potential to improve employee mobility, job satisfaction and productivity. Pip Courcoux, sales and product manager at Abloy UK, looks at how we should integrate them into our IT systems to create more flexible and efficient security solutions.
Smartphones became mainstream in 2008, and since then no piece of technology has had a bigger impact on the way we live our lives. We use them to stay connected to our friends and family, our home, look after our personal wellbeing and even our entertainment.
The numbers reflect this, with 78% of people owning a smartphone – rising to 95% of all 16-24-year-olds – and 95% of people use them every day. This is only expected to rise with the introduction of 5G, as users benefit from more reliable, faster connections.
However, while consumer use continues to grow, many organisations haven’t been as fast to tap into the uses and benefits smartphones can provide – in particular when they are embedded within a company’s infrastructure.
Though smartphones are a ready-made productivity tool in all our pockets, they seldom reach their full potential in workplace. For the past decade, this technology and its benefits has passed by the access control sector. But we should always be looking for the next ‘big thing’ that will make our lives – and work – more efficient.
How would it work?
I believe that the next generation of access control systems will rely much more on smartphones. They are capable of so many functions that have become a central part of businesses network infrastructure.
A simple to operate smartphone app is the perfect platform for keyless technology – as long as it is encrypted to the highest standards. This will allow businesses to increase the flexibility and efficiency of their on-the-ground teams, such as short-term contractors.
Meanwhile, a keyless access control system replaces traditional keys and lock cylinders by giving people access by using a key card, smartphone or a fob. This type of access control is becoming much more commonplace in every type of organisation as the technology becomes more sophisticated and affordable.
Smartphone usage continues to increase. Organisations could even stop using traditional key management and deployment systems altogether. Alternatively, employees could access an app which will grant them permission through a network to access restricted areas, including padlocked remote sites.
This type of innovation will lead to a more streamlined, flexible and efficient infrastructure where anyone, anywhere in the world, can receive an activation code via SMS. They would also be able to display a list of access credentials, connect to a lock and use their phone to unlock it, receive rights from backend services, or even install a firmware update.
To build trust, keyless technology users should demand maximum security. This could include a number of authentication systems, such as the correct electronic access combined with biometric authentication, requiring a pin and facial recognition technology. It’s possible to achieve this without relying on internet access, allowing the process to function even in remote sites.
Smartphones will also play a vital role in the world of hybrid integration. This is a framework to allow for more innovative and efficient integration with less risk. A hybrid integration platform pulls third party systems together to utilise common APIs and technologies, and in many cases the smartphone could fulfil this role.
A smartphone app could serve as the middleware to bridge the operating systems, databases and other applications. Furthermore, if this is done many times over using all the smartphones within a business, it would create wide scale benefits.
In fact, we’ve probably only realised a fraction of the value that smartphones can bring, providing the edge computing and connectivity necessary for true digital transformation – all for a manageable cost.
To reach their full potential, they should also integrate with cloud technology. This hugely increases their flexibility and allows users to connect form anywhere in the world and also means that companies don’t need to rely on establishing their own costly and complicated networks between locations.
The system can be improved further by integrating with mapping software, such as OS Cloud, so operators have access to a live database that monitors and manages all users at all sites. It also presents an opportunity for significant financial saving, as often the cloud utilises a multi-tenancy, shared production environment, splitting the costs a across many organisations.
Compatibility is key
At Abloy UK, we are creating a portfolio of solutions which are backward compatible. This means that when you work with us, you can be confident that in addition to providing robust security our products will be compatible and seamlessly integrate with one another.
Abloy’s CLIQ technology is the perfect tool to help critical infrastructure sites overcome operational obstacles, by providing a system that manages, monitors and maintains security for sites which span large geographical areas.
The one-key-solution allows staff to have their own key, while being granted access to assets only when and where they are needed. This small change can have a big impact, by reducing the need for risk assessments and minimising in person key collections or attended visits.
These keys can also be activated through a smartphone using CLIQ® Connect technology and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE): a revolution that brings remote access control into the mobile era. Using this technology, the keys and wire free products can even yield a real-time audit trail and grant access rights to the user while they are on-site.
The future of access control
Though traditional keys will always have their place, smartphones are a big part of the future. They will help organisations meet regulatory compliance, provide cost savings, improve operational efficiencies, reduce health and safety incidents and ensure assets are maintained and kept secure.
Integrating smartphones into our infrastructure will build up trust in the security sector, allowing the industry to benefit from the same convenience that consumers have had for years.