Shaping the future of access control for security and facility managers

The sheer range of choice available to security professionals regarding physical access control can be overwhelming.

With technological innovations, especially regarding smart-building and cloud connectivity, the pace of change can create uncertainty when assessing how companies can best implement these solutions.

Starting in 2017, Nedap Security Management began benchmarking using third-party research to collect comprehensive data on how access control can help organisations improve their business processes. This research was undertaken against the backdrop of a swift and relentless progression of technology which has both opened the doors of opportunity and hindered through added complexity.

Uncertainty acting as a blocker

Analysing the research results, this uncertainty can be seen in the discussion over decentralised v centralised access control systems. Centralised access control systems offer myriad benefits, such as better risk mitigation, increased accuracy, and enhanced convenience, not to mention the cost savings resulting from simplification and tapping into economies of scale. In addition, maintenance and future-proofing are more easily manageable.

Despite this wide range of benefits, the research undertaken on behalf of Nedap Security Management indicated that fewer companies than expected have taken steps to centralise their access control. There may be several reasons, such as perceived cost or reliance on legacy systems. However, one major blocker to a shift towards centralisation is complexity, or at least perceived complexity. This is where choosing the right security partners and seeking appropriate and effective support is critical.

There is a broader trend towards centralisation – the research report indicates that more than half of respondents are working towards a centralised global access control system, yet outliers remain. Concerns over cost, complexity or lack of belief that a centralised system will benefit specific businesses likely arise through a lack of clear understanding of how a centralised access control system could transform security infrastructure.

Optimisation in automation

There is a wider global shift towards future-proof solutions, especially in support of international efforts to combat climate change, improve social inclusion or improve resource efficiency. The security industry is no different. Companies are increasingly seeking future-proof systems, to complement new infrastructure or provide effective support for legacy infrastructure.

Recent global events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or the war in Ukraine, have shown business leaders that threats to business continuity can emerge rapidly and with little warning. A future-proof access control solution provides robust support, resilience, and reactivity. Automation is a key driver of optimisation and goes hand in hand with future-proofing. Automated systems can respond more efficiently to evolving needs and empowers businesses to be more reactive and responsive to potential risks and challenges. This is also true for opportunities.

Despite this, the research indicates a lack of support for automation, with 69% of respondents reporting not using an automated model. Interestingly, this contrasts with the number of respondents who stated that their current systems are future-proof (51%). Companies should explore the benefits of automation – by integrating aspects of their business, they can optimise security and broader business processes.

A future-proofed way forward

This global move towards future-proof solutions leans heavily on using smart systems and ‘smart buildings’. By using an access control system as either a central hub, or as an integral part of a wider ecosystem, businesses can experience the benefits of enhanced security and better optimisation of their processes designed to contribute to better use of resources.

Facilities management is increasingly being integrated into access control systems, with touchless technology such as biometric identification becoming more widespread. Mobile access and improved system mobility have become more important, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. Access control has many opportunities to tap into emerging technology and facilitate streamlined use of wider systems. This sphere of technologies can integrate systems such as parking management, occupancy control, heating, air conditioning and lighting, amongst many others.

Beyond standard visitor control and infrastructure security, access control systems can empower businesses to take full advantage of the opportunities technology presents to align themselves with the demands and responsibilities of today and the future.

What comes next?

Looking forward, it is clear that access control systems are becoming more than just the concern of security professionals. An effective access control system can be an enabler for businesses to align themselves with the shifts and trends of today. By recognising the benefits it brings for facility management, businesses can maximise the efficiency of current systems or construct modular, forward-thinking processes and systems that allow for integration depending on evolving business needs.

The world has shown us that being flexible, responsive and adaptable is key to success. It is likely that this trend will continue into the future, so taking full advantage of technological innovations while also being robust and resilient in the face of uncertainty or unexpected events should be at the heart of businesses’ strategy as they enter the new world.

About the Author

Michael Lee is UK Sales Consultant Manager at Nedap Security Management. We bring freedom to everyday life, by protecting people, places and possessions. We control access to any physical location that needs to stay secure – from businesses to government offices, hospitals, airports, schools, industrial sites and public venues. For us, security isn’t just about technology. It’s about people and how they live their daily lives. It’s about fulfilling your basic human need for security so you feel safe enough to make the most of life and work. In a way, true security is when you don’t have to think about it.

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