Beyond security: merging video and access control

Jun 25, 2019

As physical security gets smarter, it creates significant opportunities for innovation that can have impact beyond its traditional purpose and deliver real business benefits on a broader scale.

The digitalisation of video camera data, for example, means that it can be combined with other business functions to improve the way they work, often delivering significant cost savings at the same time.

Consider access control. Typically, access control is a part of a building or office manager’s responsibility, but the process is often simple and has little oversight. If a keycard is presented, a door will open, regardless of who is using the keycard or whether or not they are supposed to be at work on a given day. Managing the system and looking for potential security breaches is often a manual task, which is a low priority.

Improving on an existing function

Alternatives do exist. Fingerprint readers offer a second factor of authentication, confirming the card holder’s identity, but they require extra investment in hardware which isn’t always accurate and can’t be remotely maintained. They aren’t always practical either, in environments where there are large numbers of people moving around, or protective gear must be worn.

As business functions digitalise, however, better ways of securing the workplace via access control emerge. IP-networked video cameras, which can be connected to cloud platforms for analytics and other features, as part of a VSaaS (video surveillance as a service) model, provide a wealth of real-time information that can be put to use beyond the traditional applications of surveillance.

Digital transformation of access control

In the case of access control, what the digitalisation of physical security and cloud computing enable is a far more elegant solution, in which data from the video surveillance network is combined with data from access control – and other sources – into a single platform for a truly smart, efficient and secure system.

In this scenario, facial recognition software provides the second factor guarantee of the card holder’s identity. It’s seamless for the employee, and overcomes many of the challenges of fingerprint biometrics, not least from a cost perspective, as an organisation is leveraging equipment that it already owns via a software platform, rather than having to invest in new hardware and installation. Even better, security protocols, such as who has access to which areas and at which time, can be managed remotely too.

Expanding the remit of Access Control

These functions can be further extended, for example, by adding in HR records as a source. Access control can then become a way of automating timesheets, or monitoring for suspicious behaviours – such as an employee keycard being used while that worker is on annual leave. The application of machine learning and AI can further increase awareness of unusual activity within a building or workplace.

This model is just one example of how the digitalisation of physical security can deliver wider business benefits. Access control in the cloud is highly scalable and unlocks a new “as a service” business model, in which security is delivered on a pay-per-use basis, rather than as a large up-front investment. This makes it simple for organisations to add in new temporary workspaces or immediately reduce their costs when an office is closed down – all managed in one simple, centralised place.