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Beyond convenience: The rise of mobile credentials in commercial building

June 10, 2024

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commercial building

In the ever-evolving world of commercial building security, contactless and keyless access control systems are rapidly gaining ground. Chris Edwards of CIE-Group reveals the key factors behind this trend.

Mobile credentials, the use of a secure digital key stored on a smartphone or other mobile device, is driving a significant shift in commercial and residential building security.

This move is increasingly prompting security managers, building owners and facilities managers to adopt contactless access control systems.

This trend offers substantial benefits for all those responsible for securing office buildings, warehouses, and other commercial and residential spaces.

MDU (multi-dwelling units), apartment living, and build-to-rent developments are adopting contactless due to several key advantages.

Ultimately, contactless access control systems, enabled by the rise of mobile credentials, are creating a more secure and user-friendly experience for tenants and property managers alike. 

The pandemic undoubtedly accelerated the adoption of touchless technologies due to hygiene concerns.

However, the advantages of touchless technology extend far beyond virus prevention.

Contactless systems, particularly those utilising QR codes, eliminate the need for physical keys or key fobs, which can be misplaced, stolen, or require costly reprogramming.

This trend has translated into a more streamlined security operation for facilities managers, a reduced administrative burden and a lower need for physical key management. 

The smartphone advantage 

Alongside this trend, the widespread adoption of smartphones as a reliable and convenient access credential has also fuelled the rise of contactless access control.

Here, mobile credentialing comes into play. Mobile credentials are secure digital keys stored on a user’s smartphone.

They can be used in conjunction with contactless readers or QR codes to grant access to buildings and specific areas. 

QR codes, especially now they can be scanned using native phone cameras, provide a convenient and secure temporary or limited-use authentication solution for commercial building operators.

They offer several key advantages over traditional systems: 

  • Users simply scan a unique QR code with their phone to unlock doors, eliminating shared touchpoints. 
  • Unlike traditional key cards, QR codes can be dynamically generated and revoked, offering superior control over access permissions. Granting temporary access to deliveries, contractors, or visitors becomes effortless with QR codes. No need for physical cards or cumbersome key management procedures. 
  • QR codes are easy to generate, manage, and distribute, making them adaptable and versatile. 

Beyond hygiene: Long-term benefits for security management 

The initial adoption of contactless access control was certainly fuelled by hygiene concerns. However, the value proposition extends far beyond this initial driver. Facilities managers are discovering a wealth of benefits that improve not only security but also efficiency and cost management. 

QR code-based systems eliminate the need for physical key cards – a significant expense that encompasses production, distribution, and inevitable replacements. This translates to immediate cost savings. Furthermore, the beauty of mobile credentials lies in their inherent scalability. 

Mobile credentialing with QR codes offers additional advantages: 

Reduced reliance on concierge services: QR codes, which offer temporary access permissions, can greatly reduce the reliance upon the human concierge resource, typically an overhead of the property owner or management company.

QR code access credential use in managed residences is also growing.

When a resident is not at home, a concierge would normally have to manage all access and receipt of parcels. 

Streamlined access control processes: Wait times at entry points become a thing of the past as building occupants gain access with a quick scan.

Facilities managers also benefit from a simplified system that requires less maintenance and empowers them to manage access remotely, creating a more efficient and manageable security operation from start to finish. 

Enhanced security and flexibility 

Keyless access control systems, including mobile credentials, can effortlessly adapt to the dynamic needs of a commercial building.

Adding new employees, accommodating departmental shifts, or creating restricted access zones is easy with this type of system.

Gone are the days of complex key management or reprogramming procedures.

In addition, with a QR code-based system, temporary codes can be programmed to expire after a specific time or after a single use, ensuring access is only granted for the intended duration.

QR codes are simple to generate and deactivate. Lost or compromised credentials can be easily revoked, maintaining a secure environment. 

Contactless access control, including mobile credentials, is transforming commercial security, MDU, apartment living and the build-to-rent sector.

It offers a secure, cost-effective, and user-friendly solution that goes beyond hygiene concerns.

For facilities managers, this translates to enhanced security, streamlined operations, and significant cost savings.

As technology advances, touchless access control stands to become a cornerstone of modern commercial building security. 

In practice 

A good example of this trend is Burlington House, an MDU project in the heart of Manchester, which includes 91 luxury waterfront apartments featuring the latest in smartphone access control and intercom technology from 2N.

Set over 11 floors, these high-specification contemporary 1, 2 & 3 bedroom apartments offer city living with unrivalled security and access systems. 

It is located in the city’s fashionable Piccadilly Basin area which is rapidly establishing itself as the new creative quarter for Manchester.

Designed to appeal to a young, tech-savvy audience required the highest specification for each apartment, combined with style and technology.

These requirements were the driving influences in choosing the 2N integrated intercom and access control system throughout the development.

The system called for latest technologies to be presented at all stages of the door entry user experience, whilst also ensuring contactless authentication at all access points. 

The solution 

IP Security specialist – Security Design – worked in partnership with CIE’s team of in-house system architects to specify and design an integrated apartment intercom and access control system using the market-leading 2N range of Verso Modular Intercoms, Indoor Touch Answering Units and Access Unit 2.0 panels.

Internally, each of the 91 apartments at Burlington House is fitted with the 2N luxury Indoor Touch device which allows high-definition video and audio communication with any visitors to the site who call the apartment via the outdoor intercom devices.

These stylish touchscreen answering units enable residents to quickly allow access to visitors.   

In addition, for any residents installing home automation devices into their apartments, the 2N Indoor Touch can be fully integrated with platforms such as Control4, Savant, RTi and Crestron. 

Smartphone authentication 

Positioned at the main entrance, lobby and car park access – the 2N IP Verso Intercom devices feature HD colour camera, microphone and speaker for direct communication with residents, Bluetooth & RFID authentication and touchscreen Digital Phonebook/Keypad Module which can be fully programmed with resident names and apartment numbers, etc, allowing visitors to easily search and dial the correct residence. 

The Burlington House security system also features 16 2N Access Units which provide residents and service staff with fast and easy smartphone or PIN entry to communal areas such as residents’ lounge, car park, bike & bin stores, postal room, etc. 

“The 2N access ​system ensures quality protection for our residential complex,” says Edite Muceniece, Property Manager, Burlington House.

“As a system administrator, simplicity of use was my main focus. 2N Access Commander is a well-designed system that allows the status of devices in the access control system to be monitored in real time.

“We appreciate the wide range of options offered by the application interface, which allows us to link and update the access components with other technologies in the building.” 

This article was originally published in the June Edition of Security Journal United Kingdom. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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