The coronavirus has dramatically altered our personal and professional views and expectations about healthy buildings and transmission of diseases in high traffic environments. As a result, “touch-free” is no longer just a catch phrase when it comes to access control solutions.

Often, the touch-free conversation is tied with the need for mobile access solutions. While the two approaches are not interchangeable, both are ideal choices to reduce hand-to-door contact in high traffic public areas such as office lobbies and entry ways, healthcare facilities, restaurants, schools, and restrooms. When combined, they offer contactless, barrier-free and user-friendly access that assure secure entry, minimize high frequency touchpoints, and reduce the spread of germs.


Initial Considerations for Touch-Free Access

Touch-free access solutions can be easily added to your existing facility and integrated into your plans for new construction. When properly planned, they can offer convenient, unimpeded access while maintaining the appropriate level of security and productivity. Given all excessive number of doors in your facility and budget constraints, how can you maximize your investment in a healthy facility while achieving the level of security and productivity required? Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Which openings have the highest traffic and touch points within the facility?
  • Which openings have a higher potential to spread disease (washrooms, food preparation)?
  • Which openings, such as washrooms, cause the greatest concern for employees and guests of the facility?
  • What is the function of each opening that you consider upgrading?
  • What elements of the existing opening can be integrated into the new solution?
  • Does an opening that you want to upgrade to touch free need specific credentials or access requirements?
  • Can your plan be enhanced by building traffic management?

From touch-free operated low energy operators, to barrier-free washroom controllers, to mobile credentials and beyond, moving to touch-free access solutions on critical openings will create a safer, more secure and comfortable environment for employees and guests. 

Simplifying the Transition to Mobile Access Solutions

Mobile Access Solutions, sometimes referred to as “smart solutions,” are touch-free, secure, end-to-end mobile credential applications often utilizing Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Transitioning to mobile access solutions is becoming a highly desired accommodation of tech savvy employees, guests, and residents across multiple vertical markets. Mobile access strategy development uses a clear three-step approach based on these fundamental questions:

  • How will your customers use and maintain the system?
  • How do user needs match up to your building’s security requirements?
  • Is your infrastructure mobile-ready?
  • Is your mobile key integration partner positioned to meet your needs?


Step One: Understand Your Users

A rapidly growing number of users appreciate a property that is a mobile technology innovator because:

  • They have a high comfort level with smartphone use for purchases and an endless variety of apps.
  • They have a desire for the efficiencies mobile access brings and give them control over their entry and exit

Step Two: Establish a Mobile-Ready Infrastructure

Infrastructure includes a property’s network (wireless and cable), PMS, and other property software applications. It also includes the staff involved to establish and efficient mobile-ready property.

Questions a property may consider before implementing mobile access are:

  • Do you have RFID BLE door locks?
  • Is your PMS Mobile-Ready?
  • Who needs to receive training to use the new system? How will it be maintained?


Step Three: Select an Integration App Vendor that Meets Your Needs

If your property does not have in-house mobile app-based programs and functionality, third party app integration partners can package the functions and services (including secure mobile door keys) that a property wants to include in its mobile app. Consider asking the following key questions to potential app integration partners:

  • Will the app interface and communicate with existing property systems?
  • Can your integrator partner securely collaborate with your lock provider to deliver encrypted mobile keys?
  • How does the app maintain and update the property’s user database with relevant statistics such as traffic patterns or service requests?
  • What safeguards are in place for a secure interface with your property’s operations platform?

Shifting to a mobile access environment requires a corresponding shift in a property’s approach to security. Under existing keycard systems, the property controls and is responsible for all security aspects, including cards and activation procedures. Mobile keys change this.

In the mobile world, security extends to off property entities that will generate an encrypted mobile key credential. That credential, or key, moves through your app provider’s platform to be delivered over a mobile carrier’s network to a smartphone owned by your user. With multiple third-party systems involved, it is essential to closely examine security measures and responsibilities throughout the process.


Choose the Right Provider

Whether security officers or property managers implement touch-free or mobile access control or a hybrid model utilizing both technologies, choose a smart solutions provider who controls the end-to-end process.

Smart solutions include three parts: firmware, software, and hardware. Companies who control the manufacture of all three in their electronic access control products can assure the highest performance and quality. They also develop their technology to integrate seamlessly with leading property operating systems. In addition, they offer service efficiency – if there is a problem, owners and property managers only have to make one call for support.


This article originally ran in Security, a twice-monthly security-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security Magazine. Subscribe here.