In security, the first goal is safety. A few months ago we only saw safety through the lens of building access and cybersecurity, but now, all things security need to be framed in the context of public health. The reality is that employers will need to invest in technology from doorknob to desk that keeps employees safe against COVID-19 and other viruses in the coming years, leading to opportunities for security integrators.
While all 50 states have begun to reopen, Global Workplace Analytics reports that 25 to 30 percent of the workforce will work from home a couple times a week by the end of 2021. Even if the number of people in offices is reduced, the security risks will not abate. Employers are charged with finding security and access control systems that protect against physical and cyber issues, and now, health safety concerns.
For a security integrator, one of the first steps is to focus on helping organizations manage the employees and visitors as well as the surfaces they touch upon entry. Touchless entry systems enable employees to access doors and elevators with the help of a mobile app while allowing administrators to limit access to facilities based on privileges. The goal in the future is to make all doors and elevators automatic, so there is no touching of buttons or handles required. In doing so, the traffic flow to entrances and exits can be staggered in groups or shifts.
Biometrics adds an additional layer of safety and protection. Rather than using key fobs or passcodes, an employee’s physical characteristics are used to verify their identity. For example, individuals are granted access with biometrics where facial and fingerprint scanning features already embedded in mobile devices can be utilized for authentication. Once verified, automatic door detection and voice commands will eliminate the need for individuals to touch or select a door to open.
Instead of a receptionist greeting a visitor, a visitor management system is capable of photo capturing, badge printing, delivery management, and logging all data to a remote security database. With visitors and employees in the office, companies can integrate video systems to access live footage feeds and receive remote activity alerts that help them maintain social distancing measures.
The second step is for security integrators to help organizations ensure that those who might be contagious can be identified. Thermal cameras are an increasingly popular, no-touch way to take body temperatures. Measurements can be accessed remotely as well, making the process safe for employees, visitors and administrators. The cameras will serve as a frontline defense against viruses and infections we cannot see, but need to monitor. If an employee is infected or contagious, the access control systems integrated with these cameras will allow users to generate contact reports. These reports will help identify what entryways an infected employee accessed, which employees were in the area, and inform employees who could be at risk for infection.
If the organization doesn’t have the budget for thermal cameras, there are other ways an integrator can help them ensure employees are screened. For example, personnel access can be suspended automatically until an employee visits a screening checkpoint inside or outside the facility. Visitors and employees can also be required to answer health screening questions before access is granted to the premises. While in the past these screening tests may have been prohibited due to anti-discrimination laws, the Equal Opportunity Commission ruled that due to COVID-19, employers could screen temperatures with no penalty.
REMOVING SILOS THROUGH INTEGRATIONS
The third step for security integrators is to help an organization connect its security plan to its larger technology strategy. The convergence of physical and cybersecurity will make it possible by enabling access to previously siloed data into one, unified system.
Technology integrations through APIs simplify data interactions between software, automating the maintenance of security and safety control systems. Companies can expand their security plans into additional platforms like elevators, intercoms and other smart devices. Unlike server-based access control systems of the past, you can now integrate tools that are necessary for employees and visitors to use and monitor them in the same way, all while maintaining control of your security.
Using integrations like identify connectors, users can link identity and access management (IAM) solution like Okta, Microsoft Azure Active Directory, and G Suite to employees’ physical security access rights so they are always up to date.
Companies trying to follow social distancing protocols can control the flow of employee traffic by integrating their touchless security with their identity management solution, ensuring only select people have access to specific buildings, floors, or elevators. Another technique as new employees slowly return to the office is to configure the intercom to automatically download the employee directory each day, ensuring your directory is always accurate. These integrations allow for past and real-time data to be collected into one database to extract insights, visualize through business intelligence tools, and inform policy changes.
These types of integrations are only possible through cloud technology. Systems not based on the cloud collect their own data in the hardware or server, limiting access to the data. Cloud-based solutions allow companies to collect data from multiple systems — access control, visitor management, or video surveillance — and identify anomalies in the data.
As organizations and employees continue to return to the workplace, safety will be at the core of employee satisfaction, more so than snacks, corporate swag and office parties. In order to prepare for these shifting expectations, security integrators can help organizations budget and invest in the right technology now to keep their workplaces safe and secure.