As the company rebrands, Forge’s Founders Paul Speariett and Wayne Lee explain how it’s solution is creating a safe return to work.
2021 was a tricky year for everyone, but the technology sector seemed to bypass this as the need for digital technologies for security, health and safety and working patterns were prioritised. So, what can we expect in 2022? More of the same or more stability? Moreover, what will be the role of technology providers in the visitor access space?
Forge is a technology company with over 10 years’ experience providing cloud-based visitor management and occupancy counting software to the commercial real estate, retail and education sectors. In June 2021, the company was acquired by Yardi Systems, a global real estate technology provider which is allowing the team to grow and scale its offering.
In January 2022, Forge is rebranding as Yardi Bluepoint and has become part of the company’s family of solutions, helping to manage and shape the property sector.
In this interview, Security Journal UK caught up with Forge founders Paul Speariett and Wayne Lee, who between them have over 50 years’ experience in the security technology sector, to talk about the trends for 2022 and how they are helping to give confidence to people returning to buildings with safety and security at the forefront.
What was the experience for Forge and the visitor management and access control sector during 2021?
Paul Speariett (PS): There definitely was an acceleration in businesses looking at software to help manage various strategies, ensuring health and safety compliance and giving people the confidence to return to their spaces.
We successfully won the tender for Landsec, one of the leading real estate companies in the UK and rolled out Bluepoint to 19 buildings in London; this was to provide Landsec a consistent approach to visitor management and short term access, integrating with the existing CCure access control system. We also expanded to Eastern Europe, working with Inner Range and Nedap to implement Bluepoint at three HB Reavis buildings, including the tallest building in Europe, Varso in Warsaw, Poland.
Not only did we expand our list of access control integration partners – LenelS2, Gallagher, Paxton, Inner Range, Nedap, CCure and TDSI – we were acquired! Yardi saw the scale we were experiencing and the opportunity to include a front-end software solution as part of its property management technology offering.
Wayne Lee (WL): From a technology perspective, we were able to take the time to look at our product and redevelop how we could integrate more easily with access control. We have greatly simplified the integration so we can have our customer sites up and running within the space of a few hours.
The integration is now fully configurable directly with Bluepoint and can be tailored by the customer to suit their needs. Credentials for visitors can be automatically created and deleted in real time upon checking in and checking out. Leveraging the latest API’s has allowed us to permit sites to use their existing access control infrastructure and access passes as well as allocate QR codes to visitors. This saves on any initial budgetary constraints to allow a secure visitor environment.
What are the advantages of using a cloud-based system in an access/visitor management setting?
PS: We have seen the definition of a “visitor” broaden. Effectively synchronising access control and visitor management allows for a more secure process for the building, ensuring visibility and flexibility for all users of the system. With this new level of synchronisation, we can take visitors securely beyond the reception desk to their destination. Using the existing site infrastructure, we can issue access control cards directly from Bluepoint; this ensures that visitors have the right access for the right duration, all from one system.
A great example of the synchronisation of the systems would be an access scenario for a contractor. Previously, the reception team would have to create a temporary card in the access control system as well as the visitor management system. With Bluepoint, it’s all done in one place.
The implementation of contactless technologies is a growing request from customers and this can be facilitated through integration. We currently use QR codes as this is the most efficient and effective way to ensure people have the access without having to download an app.
How are access control technologies helping to create safe return to work strategies?
WL: Contact-free or touchless has become high on the list for creating a safer return to the office and it has also given people confidence. It also increases visibility for building management so they can see who is in the building and be able to ensure the air quality or ventilation is catering for the occupancy. With Bluepoint, you can also look historically, or ahead, to predict what you might need for the visitors coming to the site.
PS: What we know from our customers is that a hybrid approach is best so that you don’t have a single point of failure and you empower people with a choice. Not everyone wants to download an app to use their mobile to access a space and some businesses want to ensure their visitors still have a humancentric experience that’s enhanced by technology.
The Gherkin is a good example of this; visitors must go to the reception desk and receive an access card which allows the reception team to meet any additional needs and provide the visitor with information on where their meeting is being held. The Gherkin also uses the system to book restaurant goers to Searcy’s on the top floor.
How important is it for access control technologies to be able to provide actionable insights and real time data?
PS: Data is vital to make strategic decisions on how you manage, stay compliant and ensure efficiencies or ROI. We try and make the data simple. You can fall into a trap of providing too much data and leaving the customer confused or without the resource to interpret it to benefit. That’s the beauty of Bluepoint – it takes the access control data and feeds it back in an easily digestible and actionable format. In real time you can see how many additional people are in the building for occupancy and compliance which helps planning reception and security resources.
Providing data that is actionable and easy to understand is key to empowering stakeholders to make decisions that drive real world change.
How does Bluepoint integrate with other smart technologies?
WL: API seems to be the new buzzword thrown around by tech companies. I think it’s important to note that API’s are not all made equally and it is therefore important to understand the level of integration possible and what is exposed and possible between API’s. We work with our partners and customers to ensure that our API is aligned with the needs of the project.
With our open API,Bluepoint integrates with lift technology as part of the access control and with tenant engagement platforms like Locale, OfficeApp and HqO.
How does Bluepoint support its customers during the installation stage and beyond?
PS: The implementation stage of any project is critical to ensure the subsequent onboarding of our customers. We work with several partners at all stages; security installers who often recommend or specify us, the access control partner that we are integrating with and the landlord or building manager.
All customers are offered training, not just for the operation people but for their end users. In most cases it’s offered to the tenants of a building. Training can be face to face or online and support is offered via chat, email or phone. We have a fantastic support team who have come from the customer side so they know the product very well.
What plans are in place for expanding the brand in 2022?
WL: As we were acquired last year, we will be rebranding from Forge Bluepoint to Yardi Bluepoint with a technology stack that will allow us to scale and sell across the globe. Yardi currently services 80 countries with over 10,000 clients in the commercial and residential markets, so 2022 will be an exciting year for Bluepoint as we fully transition into Yardi’s offering.
For more information, visit: www.weareforge.io
This article was originally published in the January 2022 edition of Security Journal UK. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.