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Access Control Technologies for a Post-COVID-19 World


The COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly changing the world in a range of ways: people are needing to adapt the way they do pretty much everything. Many businesses have been working offsite to comply with lockdown and stay-at-home restrictions, but as governments are starting to plan to reopen their economies, businesses need to plan what this means for them. As offices and other businesses return to work onsite, there are a number of factors that need to be adjusted for the post-COVID-19 landscape.

One of these is access control: access control devices are critical for businesses because they keep the business’ assets safe while allowing it to function as efficiently as possible. However, hygiene and other new concerns mean that businesses will need to reassess the way we manage access control.

Thankfully, access control technologies have developed greatly in recent years and there are a number of tools and technologies that will be helpful in this context. Let’s dive into the access control technologies that we will be seeing more of as we manage the COVID-19 pandemic as well as its recovery.

The Implications of COVID-19 for Access Control

Even as economies and countries reopen, the way we work, live, shop, and go about our daily business will need to change in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even when (and if) the pandemic is brought under control, strict measures will need to be introduced to limit its spread and stop the disease from flaring up once more.

This has two major implications for access control. Firstly, COVID-19 is believed to live for up to 2 days on certain surfaces such as plastic and some types as metal, meaning that access control devices could harbour the coronavirus and cross-infect users of the same system. This means that new, touch-less and remote systems will need to be used –we will look at these technologies in more detail later in this article.

Secondly, there are now new concerns about limiting interactions and movement of people in order to control the spread of the pandemic. In this context, businesses are likely to require stricter methods of access control in order to stop people from freely mixing on the premises, therefore risking more transmission of the disease. This will impact not just workers, but also clients, visitors, suppliers and delivery or maintenance contractors.

A Shift From Touch Devices

In the last few years, access control has relied heavily on devices like pin pads and key cards: devices that we touch with our hands. This makes them a big threat in terms of the coronavirus, as it becomes the perfect surface for transmitting the virus as dozens or even hundreds of people touch the same keypad every day. In the post-COVID-19 era, we can expect pin pads and key cards to be greatly limited, if not eliminated all together.

Touchless Technologies

There are a range of access control technologies that will allow workers and visitors to access sites and offices without needing to touch anything at all. These technologies have existed for a while, but we can expect to see a greater uptake in the coming months, as well as the development of even more innovative devices and tools.

Touchless access control tools include those that use an app on your phone to access a door or gate without needing to touch or swipe the device. There are also types of readers that allow you to unlock them with a touchless wave of the hand, or by touching the reader with an elbow or another covered body part. Facial recognition may also be used in the future as a form of touchless access control: there has been some speculation recently about the many applications of facial recognition tools in the post-COVID-19 world.

Two factor authentication will be another trend that is set to rise in the post-COVID-19 context. Businesses looking to replace stringent security measures such as fingerprint readers may not be satisfied with just one touchless access control method. A combination of two different authentication measures could be the solution, by adding another level of control. For example, a system may use a combination of facial recognition and a personal passcode on their smartphone.

Remote Control

Remote control methods of access control also present solutions to the complex challenges of a post-COVID-19 world. Cloud a mobile-based security systems allow businesses to manage their sites and keep their assets secure will protect themselves and the community from the spread of COVID-19.

Remote access control systems have functions such as remote unlock, which means doors and other entry points can be unlocked remotely from a central point, eliminating the need to touch devices or keypads. Remote technology also allows businesses to instantly issue mobile credentials to allow access via the user’s smartphone, even on a last-minute or temporary basis.

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