Robust and efficient control of visitors and contractors to a wide range of sites has always been a key benefit when selecting an access control solution. Never has this been more critical than today, as a growing number of businesses and organisations are tasked with operating in a COVID-Secure way.
Traditional visitor management systems rely on those attending a premises to present themselves at a reception or gatehouse, where a temporary badge or card is issued. This creates potential contamination points, both via the interaction with reception personnel and from the issued credential.
Even outside of challenging times such as during a pandemic, the visitor management process is time-consuming and labour-intensive, and the nature of temporary cards or badges makes the system open to abuse. Staff must be vigilant to ensure all issued passes are collected, and there is also the burden on staff – who often are not a part of the security or reception teams – to ensure passes used by visitors and contractors are current.
There is also the problem of pass ‘sharing’. It is not unusual for contractors and some visitors to share passes with colleagues. Even when the people using someone else’s pass are allowed on site, it creates an issue with any credible tracking or the use of transactional logs to establish people’s whereabouts or movements. It can also be problematic if occupancy management is in place.
Given the negative aspects of many visitor management systems, it is understandable that a growing number of end users are seeking more robust solutions, and these can be delivered in a cost-effective way where ‘over-the-air’ digital credentials are used.
The digital approach
Digital credentials offer businesses and organisations a simple-to-use solution which is not only visitor-friendly, but also secure, easy to manage and suitable for use in COVID-Secure applications. Digital credentials work in much the same way as standard access control credentials, in that they can have specific permissions attached, such as date and time of validity, doors or zones which can and cannot be used, visitor information, etc..
The functionality of digital credentials is the same as standard access control credentials. As well as granting access and egress though permitted doors, the cards can also report real-time location information for tracking, allow muster reporting in case of an emergency, and can have customised privileges added or removed by the operator.
The credentials allow specific time frames to be set, such as for a single day to attend a planned meeting, or over a longer period of works for contractors. Once the time window ends, the credentials are automatically voided. If there is a need, credentials can also be revoked by the issuer.
The digital credentials are loaded onto a smartphone and are accessed via an app. The issuer simply sends an email to the visitor or contractor, who can then download the app and the credential using a simple link. Using BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) connectivity, the smartphone then acts as a credential. Even when the credential is on the visitor’s phone, the issuer can still revoke it as the system will simply reject any access attempt made with a non-valid credential.
Implementing digital credentials
One of the simplest ways to introduce the use of digital credentials is via Paxton10, Paxton’s leading integrated solution for smart applications which recently won a Benchmark Innovation Award. Paxton10 readers all support the use of BLE credentials, and the Paxton Key app makes the use of digital elements secure and efficient.
The Paxton Key application allows visitors to make use of their smartphone, Apple Watch or tablet as a replacement for electronic tokens or traditional keys with a Paxton10 system. The smart credentials make use of the built-in Bluetooth wireless technology in the readers, allowing them to securely communicate with the Paxton10 system to grant or deny access.
Paxton10 is a modular smart system which allows the simple integration of access control with smart video, intruder alarms, fire alarms and building management devices. Capable of supporting up to 1,000 doors and 1,000 cameras, the flexible system offers a cost-effective path for the delivery of seamlessly integrated solutions.
The installation and configuration processes have been designed to be as simple as possible, but this does not reduce the level of flexibility on offer. Indeed, it could be argued that the simplicity only serves to make the flexibility more accessible.
Paxton10 can deliver a high level of access control and video management functionality today, but the potential for the future is huge. It allows users to enjoy a return on investment, which makes the solution cost-effective, and the cost of the hardware isn’t significantly different from the company’s dedicated access control solutions.
With the current focus on the importance of COVID-Secure sites, the use of digital credentials can reduce risks when dealing with visitor and contractor management.