The forefront of access control

August 17, 2023


SJUK Editor Becci Knowles catches up with Spencer Marshall, HID Global’s Head of Europe about how the company innovates in the access control space.

Can you tell me about yourself?

I am the Head of Europe for the PACS business at HID. My team is responsible for commercial sales, business development, pre-sales, marketing communications and product marketing. We have coverage across the whole of Europe, with the added value of a multilingual team to support.

I’ve been at HID for 16 years and have held various roles, but have ultimately been focused on the sales and the commercial side of the business. We have a strong focus on our partner relationships as well as with our end users, which include large Fortune 500 companies. Our collaboration with end users allows us to offer consultation as well as best-in-class open platforms and solutions, all of which are designed to support with their challenges and meet their needs.

What are the main challenges when implementing access control systems?

In my opinion, there are six key challenges that we frequently come across and actively try to address with both our partners and our end users.

The first one is integration and compatibility. Issues can arise when an access control system is provided end to end by one provider. An end user may have software that manages the controller, the reader on the door and the card or mobile credential. However, if all this is provided by a single vendor or manufacturer, end users may see this as proprietary and become ‘locked in’. Many end users are looking for open platforms, so HID ensures integration compatibility in case an end user wants to change one aspect, meaning that they do not have to rip the whole system out.

The next challenge is around scalability. We have developed a cloud solution called Origo which ensures that we can support companies with updates that they can deploy locally as well as on a global scale.

Data privacy is naturally a concern that everyone is trying to manage in some shape or form; it’s no different for HID or our customers. We make sure that our solutions are as secure as they can be by meeting local standards. This can include making sure that they meet SOC 2 compliance, an auditing procedure that sets guidelines on how you manage your customers’ data, especially in the cloud.

That leads on nicely to my next point; regulatory compliance. We make sure to meet the relevant ISO and IEC standards. By complying with these regulations, we are not only better placed to help and support end customers, but they have the reassurance that our solutions meet these best-in-class, international standards.

Cost always continues to be a challenge and we understand that our customers seek more cost-effective solutions that allow them to do more with less. As a result we use a licensing model for our credentials enabling us to provide better pricing and allow costs to become an operational cost, rather than part of their capital expenditure.

The final challenge is maintenance which is supported by enhanced interoperability to make it less complex. Whether customers have regional offices or are globally spread, maintenance can be cumbersome. With this in mind, we have a solution called Reader Manager which allows our devices to be upgraded via a mobile device with the latest firmware. This not only streamlines the process, but ensures that equipment can quickly and easily stay up to date.

Can you explain the concept of identity management in the context of access control?

When I think about identity management, the following keywords come to mind: Identification, authentication and authorisation.

Identification is about asking: Is this the correct person? There is of course the traditional way of making sure that the right name and photo is on a plastic card, but we have also been working to digitally transform this industry by providing credentials on a mobile device. In some countries, driving licenses are being accessed digitally. Authentication is about making sure that the person in question is the recognised person. For example, some access management solutions offer two factor authentication to identify a person. Authorisation is the last step, this is when you need to be given access and permissions to a certain area. That’s not necessarily physical, this could also be digital.

How can you ensure security with different connected devices?

HID has a stake in the Internet of Things (IoT) space. One solution we have is called Identity Positioning (IDP), which essentially allows people to be located within a building. When you’ve got the HID mobile application on your mobile device and you walk around the building, we can triangulate you using our existing installed readers. It’s worth noting that this data can be completely anonymised to support with the data privacy of a specific organisation and its employees.

This solution enables organisations to have stronger insight into accurate occupancy data and make data-driven decisions as a result.

As we see employees head back to the office in a hybrid fashion, the occupancy of a building can fluctuate from day to day. By giving organisations access to reliable occupancy data, it enables them to better manage their real estate, including from a health and safety perspective. We also ensure that when we are communicating between our credentials and our devices; we make sure there’s a
secure channel (OSDP) and the data is encrypted.

How is HID promoting sustainability?

One key way that we promote sustainability is through the launch of mobile credentials, which do not use a plastic card. However, there are some organisations that need to have a blend of physical cards and mobile. That’s why we developed our sustainable bamboo eco card, which has seen a lot of interest. If you can say that you’ve got 50,000 employees who are no longer using plastic cards – which will ultimately end up in landfill, but are now moving to either a digital or sustainable material, that’s a real step change.

What does the future of access control look like?

HID is focused on digital transformation and we see a lot of people moving to digital solutions. Cloud solutions are also offered across the globe and we want to support compliance using this solution. Overall, people are looking for more convenience. At HID, we deliver frictionless access control that is also more secure. We see access control being based around open solutions that have more connectivity to aid an organisation in more ways than just access control.

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