by John Bigelow
There should be little doubt that security technology is evolving at a rapid rate. One need only look at the depth and range of new solutions on display at this year’s Security Conference and Exhibition, held at the International Conventional Centre in Darling Harbour Sydney in late July. One area that seems to be experiencing significant change is that of access control. The introduction of newer and more effective biometrics, mobile access and data analytics has seen a myriad of interesting products emerge. In order to better understand where the industry is heading, we spoke with Serra Luck, Vice President, End-User and Consultant Business for HID Global, a global leader in in trusted identity solutions.
John Bigelow: From the point of view of HID and access control, there have obviously been some significant changes in the last few years. What is HID’s vision for access control? Where do you see the market going, and why?
Serra Luck: At HID, we focus on powering trusted identities. We know and we’re thankful that millions of users are using HID every day for physical and digital access around the world. We also have more than two billion things that are identified, verified and connected with HID technology around the world. We have a large and trusted install base in education, critical national infrastructure, healthcare, utilities, transportation and financial services. I think it’s important to mention that we work with some of the most innovative companies around the world. That is quite important for us because it means we need to innovate to remain attractive to the installers and systems integrators that we are serving today.
In the few last years, we have seen a lot of changes happening in the access control market that are reflected in the evolution of HID as a business. We are seeing the emergence of trends such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things connected to smart buildings. We see a growth in robotics and changes in demographics happening around the world, so we are very much aware of the macro-trends that are impacting the global workplace as well as the security industry.
This is exciting because our customers are able to do many things they were not able to do only a few years ago. Take, for example, the introduction of mobile access back in 2014. That was a turning point for HID and the broader access control market. HID, as a business, began to move from its traditional business model involving reader controllers installed on site, requiring the use of a card, to a cloud based model which enabled users to issue a virtual identity in a matter of seconds to a person’s smartphone which that person is then able to use just like a traditional access card. That is a completely new concept for the end-user, and it introduced new economies of scale as well as new level of user convenience, without hampering the trusted identity use in security.
As a natural extension to this, HID is now moving ahead with more innovations – location services being the latest. We’re very happy with the growth we are seeing in location-based services in the Asia region especially. HID acquired a company called Bluvision at the end of December 2016, and through this acquisition, we are bringing an array of other services to the end-users who what to be able to do more with the access control infrastructure in the security space to help improve operational efficiencies.
For example, location services will enable people to know at a glance things like which rooms are currently available for a meeting, or how to get to a meeting. This sort of functionality allows building owners, facility managers and enterprise security managers to optimise the use of the building. Also, connected to this, if you know where people are going, where the meetings are happening, then you can steer the use of heat, lightning and other services around those needs. Good service, better user experience, and of course there’s lot of energy efficiency that comes from knowing this sort of information.
Connected to that, we also envision that if, during an emergency, you are able to determine where people are in your building, it is much more efficient, and again, more user-friendly for security staff and facility owners while enabling better risk management.
Another area that HID is focusing on is data analytics. If we can better understand the data that we capture, then we know that we can help our customers make better decisions based on understanding when service demands peak within a building, where and when greater investment and action might be required, how the building is being utilised and what the role of security is. With this knowledge, we are able to use data analytics to make better decisions for the tenants.
And finally, moving information and services to the cloud brings different challenges that we, as a company, are tackling from a data security point of view. This is yet another example of why trusted identities are extremely important. Moving service to the cloud can provide companies with a significant advantage as they are able to reduce their total cost of ownership for specific services. This is achieved by removing some of the services they currently maintain on site up to the cloud. Examples include mobile access, expansion of services to the cloud, changing the operational model and or getting into location services. The more services we can offer around that security and safety model, the better the experience for users.
John Bigelow: In 2014, HID introduced mobile access which, at the time was seen as a significant disruption to the traditional access control market. At this year’s Security Conference and Exhibition, we saw HID launch Location Services, but you’ve also spoken at this event about things like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and robotics. What do you envision the next major disruption will be for the access control market?
Serra Luck: While the Cloud is not new in the traditional IT space, it is definitely an area that is still new to traditional physical access control security. However, making services like those available in the IT space available on the cloud for physical security is something that takes time but it is an area HID are putting a lot of effort into.
I think we will also see a move from the traditional capital expenditure model for access to control more of an operational expenditure model. This will mean that companies do not necessarily have to pay upfront to fit out an entire building but rather, can manage expenses through a user pays type of system. Combine with this will be a challenge around how we combine the trusted identity in IT space with the trusted identity in the physical access control space. How do you make this convergence seamless for the user?
John Bigelow: So between mobile access, biometrics and data analytics, is HID moving away from traditional physical access control measure such as cards in favour of virtual credentials?
Serra Luck: With mobile access, we have already brought the idea of using a virtual credential. Our mobile access products are being used in 58 different countries, with more than 130 different phones supporting mobile access at present. However, we believe that cards, readers, and controllers will continue to be a significant part of both our business and the industry for many years to come. I say this because when we work with our large corporate clients; we see time and again, how different mobile phones bring differing complexities to access control because the devices are manufactured by a third party and don’t necessarily all possess the same capabilities. We have also seen in corporations that some staff have a corporate phone capable of being enabled with mobile access technology, while other staff don’t. We also see sites where employees and contractors work side-by-side along with people who come for temporary visits, in this scenario, how do you manage the technology when only some people have mobile access capable devices. To that end, we believe physical access card and virtual credentials will continue to reside next to each other for some time to come. However, with the launch of our HID Location Services, virtual credentials and mobile access are areas they we expect to see significant growth in across the access control industry in the next few years.
To understand more about HID Location Services: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZjdJdro2TI