Touchless Access Control Solutions for Commercial Buildings

Commercial building entrance.

The pandemic has impacted every industry and commercial buildings are no exception. This is especially true when we are discussing building safety, security, and access control. Before COVID-19 a building’s access control was straightforward and revolved around long-established security principles. While it is true that remote work has drastically changed the landscape of commercial real estate, protecting valued assets is still crucial for any organization.  

The world of access control completely changed in 2020. In a matter of a few months, we went from an environment where people were comfortable touching public door handles and card readers to a situation where physical contact was being avoided at all cost. Additionally, commercial buildings had to deal with new health protocols along with traditional security vulnerabilities. 

Today’s commercial property managers face a variety of challenges, with safety and security at the top of the list. Pre-COVID, security integrators were able to advise clients and provide solutions that focused mostly on monitoring and controlling access to their building. The challenge for property managers is how to integrate touchless solutions while maintaining a strong security posture in a cost-effective manner. 

The good news is that access control technology has come a long way since the days of keys and punch codes. Innovative access control solutions that include door access systems, cloud-based access control and video survelliance, as well as mobile access control offer commercial property managers a good selection of touchless options.

Touchless Access Control Systems

Commercial building lobby.

Touchless access control systems (also known as contactless access systems) provide the same safety and security features that traditional systems offer while removing the need for physical contact. Safety guidelines requiring regular cleaning of surfaces combined with people wanting to avoid contact with heavily used objects have contributed to a higher demand for touchless technology within the commercial real estate industry.

If you recall the last time you entered an office building chances are you probably had to push a door bar or touch a switch. While this was standard practice in most commercial buildings, the pandemic created a demand for alternative ways of entering and exiting a building that required minimal contact. In fairness, this trend was already on the rise as the concept of smart buildings was trending long before COVID-19. In fact, industry experts predicted that smart building automation software and systems will reach $19.3B in North America by 2026.

The smart building transition is another way of saying that commercial buildings are rapidly updating their legacy systems to modern 5G and WiFi6 wireless solutions that leverage AI and enable enhance integration. This transition promises many benefits including cost savings and improved security integration. The bottom line is that by updating legacy security systems commercial buildings are able to improve their security posture and address today’s health concerns. 

Commercial Building Security Systems

Commercial building cloud based technology icons.

Each commercial building is unique in terms of its layout, tenants, and security vulnerabilities. Naturally, the type of access control in place varies greatly from building to building but they also share some core principles. In essence, the purpose of an access control systems is to prevent unauthorized entry and to create a clear distinction between public and private property. They are also used to track who has entered designated access points and provide administrators with analytics as well as alerts of daily activities.

Although it is rapidly changing, most access control systems still rely on card readers, electronic locks, and require physical contact. While traditional access control systems can remain effective especially with the support of professional security integrators, the future demands touchless integrations for a safer and more convenient way to manage building access.

Building Security Systems 

Security camera in commercial building entrance.

We all know the drill. You want to access a corporate building so you flash your ID badge and instantly (if you have valid access), you are able to enter the building. Before COVID-19 the process was straightforward and only required that the access control system was up to date and employees followed procedure. These systems were highly effective but most of them require an element of contact. While many commercial buildings have implemented health as well as cleaning protocols to support these systems, some are opting for touchless technologies to avoid contact altogether. 

Today’s health challenges require systems that are able to monitor and support occupancy-based energy and space utilization. Security integrators are showing commercial property managers how they can leverage advances in sensors, access control, biometrics, artificial intelligence, and scheduling technologies by updating their current access control systems.

There are several known security systems that property managers can choose to use in a commercial building. As with most technology, before purchasing a system it is best to consult with a professional commercial security integrator. This is because every system depends on different variables and environmental as well as operational factors. Professional security system installers carefully select, place, and integrate every component of your system to ensure smooth operation and compatibility.

Cloud-based Access Control

Access control image with digital locks.

In most commercial properties, the purpose of an access control system is to facilitate timely entry to authorized personnel while restricting unauthorized access. Cloud-based access control allows property managers to remotely administer their building’s security. The technology allows them to easily create schedules for doors, shifts, and events. They can also change access levels (in response to a termination or security alert), and initiate emergency response settings in the event of a lockdown. What is truly remarkable about cloud-based access control is that these features are available from an administrator’s laptop or smartphone. In addition to these features cloud-based access control:

  • Facilitates integration-Open interfaces facilitate the simple integration of external services, updates, and add-ons. 
  • Reduces IT burden-A cloud-based system does not require a local server and increases security through automated updates. 
  • Increase flexibility-With a cloud-based security infrastructure, property management is able to manage multiple properties from one platform. 

Cloud-Based Security Camera Systems

Security camera with digital icons.

Of course, a cloud-based access control system is only part of the equation. Experienced security integrators are able to help property managers leverage video surveillance technology to support their access control setup. Traditional video surveillance relied on network video recorders (NVR) for storage, but cloud solutions enable property managers to gather, analyze, and share video data remotely. In addition to these features, cloud-based video surveillance provides:

  • Connivance-Allows you to store and access your video from anywhere
  • Timely Updates-Real-time event validation via video integration.

Door Access System

People entering commercial building entrance.

Entrances are the first line of defense when it comes to the physical security of your building. Lobbies play a critical role because it is the initial area where people are screened. In today’s health and safety first environment, people are more conscious about the surfaces they touch and prefer to avoid contact if possible. This trend has created a demand for less contact but not at the expense of safety and security. This is where automatic door technologies come in.

Aside from minimizing the risk of transmission, automatic door operators have a range of advantages. They make it easier for people, especially those that are very germ-conscious, to enter and exit a building without contact. Some commercial buildings are workings with their security integrators to install hands-free automatic door opener hardware on an existing electrified door to eliminate that added touchpoint and promote a touchless, ADA-compliant workplace. 

Door Access Readers

Automatic doors may be a viable option for some buildings but for organizations desiring direct access control key fob readers and mobile passes offer a better alternative. A key fob reader system is a fast and easy solution to allow access into secured areas. Access control systems working with proximity readers use key fobs and access cards that unlock doors with minimal physical contact. They are more secure than the conventional lock and key and much more reliable than having to use a digital keypad to type in a code.

Mobile Passes

Mobile phone in commercial building entrance.

Mobile access control provides commercial buildings convenience and remote capabilities. With a mobile credential access control system in place, trusted individuals need nothing more than their smartphones to gain entry. Access can be granted through mobile devices that contain customized apps or QR codes. Mobile access control systems enable property managers to: 

  • Easily administer identity management.
  • Coordinate access control in multiple sites.
  • Adjust to events and situations with just a couple of clicks on mobile devices.

 In today’s dynamic environment, access control is not just about enabling who gets in and out of your building. Regarding door activation systems, many commercial property management teams are choosing technology that not only addresses their building’s security requirements but also helps them improve their energy efficiency and reinforce safety measures. With so much focus and attention on health and social distancing, touchless access control solutions are proving to be an effective way to reinforce safety guidelines while maintaining a secure environment. 

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