As organizations consider a return to the physical workplace, they must adapt to new requirements, implement new procedures, and leverage technology to alleviate their employees’ concerns.
Physical access is a prime area of interest. Crowded entrances, elevators and shared working spaces are obstacles to safe social distancing. Likewise, some security processes, like credentialing, have always relied on face-to-face contact.
Access control management can help route employees, in tandem with efforts to stagger work times. Physical access control systems (PACS) can also leverage real-time location systems to support contact tracing and reduce crowding, as well as to support thoughtful visitor management.
Touchless Access Control
Automatic door operators, revolving doors, and sliding doors can all help to reduce contact at high-volume entry and exit points. These can be coupled with contactless credentials and readers to ensure security while minimizing surface contamination.
Another strategy involves the use of long-range capable readers that leverage Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connections to deliver read performance at a distance. With a read range of up to several feet, BLE can further distance employees who might otherwise crowd around readers and doors.
Touchless credentials also support more hygienic protocols for logging into networks, paying for vending, or activating printing.
Modernized systems can send credentials to any authorized device, anywhere, so employees and visitors can have their credentials delivered contact free. Watch this webinar recording to see how easy this process is.
Visitors introduce a new variable. They must be credentialed upon entry, and their whereabouts throughout the building must be known for security reasons, should contact tracing become necessary.
Sound policies and advanced technologies can ensure safe movement of visitors. Visitor management solutions can be used either standalone or in conjunction with an organization’s access control system. Visitors self-register in the lobby and hosts are notified when they arrive. Driver’s license scanners, barcode scanners, cameras, and printers all help support those front desk processes.
Key to keeping people physically distanced is knowing their whereabouts at any given time. Similar to how GPS works in outdoor settings, location services leverage BLE beacons to ping off gateways that in turn can identify the location of individuals in a physical space. An individual’s identity can be based on an ID card which broadcasts continually, creating a virtual map of location relative to the fixed gateways.
Location services give management a means to be proactive rather than reactive in their efforts to promote physical distancing by knowing at any given time how many people are in a particular space.
Connected beacons could also broadcast room occupancy, for example, letting people know which spaces are free and which are in use. What’s more, these systems can automate contact tracing based on knowledge of whether individuals have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
While the pandemic presents formidable challenges to building management and security, it also presents a unique opportunity.
In addressing the new needs around social distancing, contact tracing, and space utilization, there is also the chance to examine access control in depth. A holistic view of PACS can help to create workplaces that are safe and secure, empowering building operators with the knowledge they need to minimize crowding, to trace the whereabouts of individuals, and to manage the use of space according to well-defined best practices.