As security professionals around the globe are involved in their organization’s COVID-19 response, many security staff are contemplating how to assess their protocols and procedures, as well as what new protocols and procedures to put in place. Most successful COVID-19 response plans have included a unified response that takes on input from across the organization, assesses risks to business continuity and determines how to safely reopen or continue operations. Initiatives large and small are often the answer and include mixing and matching technology-filled solutions, with practical non-technological solutions.
While technology may be able to help detect mask or maskless staff or visitors, for example, physical barriers, signage and regular communication with employees is imperative to getting the results you want.
So how can security technologies be a part of the overall COVID-19 response for an enterprise and how can security professionals use technology now that will serve them well in the future with continued enterprise risk mitigation?
The first considerations security professionals need to make, according to Jonathan Moore, Vice President Product Management at AMAG Technology, is what your facility needs in order to be safe: do you need to require masks and PPE, do you need to reduce traffic in certain areas, reduce building occupancy, and/or have employees and visitors self-assess their health?
“When it comes to technology, there are a number of analytics that can help with mask detection, social-distancing detection, etc.,” Moore says. Aside from using your video surveillance and video management system to help with detection, using your access control system for COVID-19 response can bring a huge amount of value to an enterprise.
“If you need to control who is coming back to work or who shouldn’t be coming back to work, there is a lot of room for access control systems to help with these Return-to-Work initiatives,” Moore says. Enterprises can tie thermal detection or thermal temperature screening into their access control systems, for example. When an employee or visitor walks through the door, if their temperature is elevated, the access control system can immediately turn off their access credentials, for example.
Another area where enterprises can get value out of access control with COVID-19 response is by enabling mobile credentials. Mobile credentials allow employees to have a touchless experience, and allow security professionals to enable, disable and manage credentials all remotely.
AMAG’s new Symmetry Mobile app allows security teams to set up access control credentials directly to a mobile device, eliminating the need to interact with the security team or go to a badging office, enforcing physical distancing. Companies can even require that employees respond to a questionnaire within the app before their physical or mobile credentials are activated.
If the employee’s answers do not align with your company policies, the employee’s credential can be disabled. Companies can choose how often employees answer the questions; for example, perhaps an enterprise would like an employee to fill out a symptom questionnaire each morning before coming into the office. Such initiatives allow organizations to be proactive about risks, says Moore. “You can implement these procedures to prevent people from coming in unnecessarily and exposing others,” he says.
Mobile credentials also allow the employee to have a contact-free experience with the access control system, swapping their mobile phone as their touchless badge, rather than needing an additional ID badge.
“If certain entrances require a pin at a card reader, you can even have the user enter the pin code or biometric all on their phone so there’s no touching at all,” Moore says.
The other important piece to using access control for COVID-19 response is using the data. There is a breadth of important information garnered from an enterprise’s access control system that can be particularly helpful for COVID-19 response.
“For one thing, access control data allows you to keep track of who is where. You can see how many people are in a building at any time which is very useful for tracking occupancy and even contact tracing in the event that someone gets sick,” Moore says. Building occupancy tracking can allow security professionals to pinpoint particular times of day or areas of a building where there are too many people, allowing them to implement certain protocols or procedures based on that data.
Tools such as Symmetry’s Movement Impact Tool can track an employee or visitor and determine who else was in the same area at the same time as someone known to be infected. This audit trail is critically important because the security team can notify those who have come into contact with the infected person or put protocols in place per their response procedures.
Though this technology and data help with COVID-19 response, many technologies and solutions available at the enterprise level were made to tackle or mitigate other risks and will be just as valuable to organizations in the future, post COVID-19.
For example, the same data used to track building occupancy or help with contact tracing now, can also be used to track insider threats and risky individuals within an organization. If for example, an employee that normally works daytime hours during the week, starts coming into the building on a Sunday night, the employee can be flagged so that security professionals can take a look and see if the changed behavior garners a response.
Adds Moore, “The data has so much value and it’s immensely useful trying to plan for an unusual situation like the pandemic. But, even when the pandemic is long gone, there will definitely be a place in security for these types of technology due to the value they add to an organization.”