Digital Transformation in Access Control for a Smart City

Wednesday, November 03, 2021 TimeTec 0 Comments

Access control has always been the first tier and last tier of security for every commercial building. Modern access control system has prevented many crimes from happening and provided the utmost security to users compared to technology decades ago. However, while advancing technology enhances security, the shortcoming is the trade-off of convenience in our daily life. In the digital transformation era, with the rising smart cities and IR 4.0 (Fourth Industrial Revolutions) concept, the access control technology has evolved from a purely ELV(Extra Low Voltage) based system to an IoT (Internet of Thing) based system that promotes connectivity in a digital building as a whole to accomplish both security and convenience concurrently.

One of the crucial problems of an access control system is its isolation. The data lives siloed on an island that doesn’t offer any insight and eventually leads to untimely and passive security. For example, in a commercial building, we have often seen door access, car park access, lift access and visitor management system operate in different systems, not to mention CCTV, alarm system, workforce management system and more, that seemingly are not related.

These system isolations create complications during the setup of the access role, access level, and access time for most property management as they have to do the same settings in different systems to ensure that nothing goes wrong. Even though modern buildings look like they have multiple tiers of security systems that could block unwelcomed visitors, unfortunately, it could not preventively deny their visit or alert the security team in real-time. In other words, the passiveness and hiccup in reaction dent the smart building management.

Nowadays, building owners have started to adopt cloud technology with edge computing capability, move access control hardware to IoT, freeing data from one activity to another activity, join the dots between different systems, and consolidate access controls and other separate systems as a comprehensive ecosystem in building management. We can envisage the following common daily scenario in a modern building: An employee of a multi-tenanted building uses a smart tenant app to invite a customer to his office by sending a WhatsApp link. By filling up the required visitor’s information and health declaration, they will receive an approved QR code (or a selfie for face recognition) to be used as an access credential later on. The pre-registered process can save them the queue time or even skip the verification process to achieve an unmanned environment by allowing them to direct access to the turnstile, lift to a specific floor, and specific doors at certain permissible periods. CCTV footage can be snapped and sent to the host in real-time; any non-compliances will be alerted. Suppose the access control system is further interconnected with a workforce management system, for example. In that case, when the host is fallen sick during the appointment date and applying for sick leave, the visitor will be automatically notified, together with their pre-approved access will be lifted immediately. And, if the visitor is a VIP, the host company can opt to pay their parking fee on behalf, and the parking barrier will be auto-opened when plate number is enrolled during pre-registration when LPR(Licence Plate Recognition) technology is applied. The automation process helps to improve the user experience while maintaining tight security.

Imagine a larger township environment involving different types of buildings like residential, office towers, shopping malls, hotels, hospitals, schools, and convention centres that are fully equipped with smart systems and access control devices. Therefore, residents in this township can order food from a store, use near field commerce integrated with automated delivery and access control process kick-in. The dwellers can also use facility booking that ties up with payment and a string of subsequent access control processes; free the season parking bay while working from home; Airbnb your home while working abroad and have a new possible income stream for all types of stakeholders, making all the impossible in the past the latest trends in the digital transformation era.

Another plus point is that the increased complexity in the access control system does not increase the investment and maintenance cost. It goes in reverse. Firstly, the subscription-based cloud solutions change the existing Capex model to Opex to save the initial investment costs. Besides, IoT device shifts computing power to the cloud, translating to a simpler hardware design and lower price than ELV, and also require fewer on-premise technicians and less maintenance staff, achieving cost-efficiency in modern building management.

(TimeTec Smart City Ecosystem)

In short, an access control system is undoubtedly one of the key components in managing people flow in a digital building, whereas multiple connected digital buildings are the key components to form smart cities. We all knew that the essence of a smart city is not defined by how advanced its ICT infrastructure is, but somewhat is shaped by hundreds of thousands of connected digital buildings, with billions of interconnected activities happening daily, due to the interactions of millions of people that live, work and breathe in the city, embracing the digital lifestyle.

Rethinking the access control system from a more holistic perspective can create a smart city that sustains more complex interaction between increased populations in a safer environment.

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About Author:
Teh Hon Seng, Group CEO of TimeTec Group of Companies. Prior to forming TimeTec, Teh led PUC Founder (MSC) Bhd to be listed on MESDAQ (ACE) market of Bursa Malaysia in 2002. Teh initiated the R&D in fingerprint technology in 2000, which later developed into a renowned global brand for commercial fingerprint product known as FingerTec. In 2008, he foresaw the trend of cloud computing and mobile technology, and over the years, he had strategically diversified and transformed its biometric-focused products into a suite of cloud solutions that aimed at workforce management and security industries including smart communities and digital building system that centered around the cloud ecosystem. Teh has more than 20 patents to his name, and he is also a columnist in a local newspaper and a writer of several books.