Access control software - Expert commentary

The retail industry: securing life after lockdown
The retail industry: securing life after lockdown

For bricks and mortar retailers, there’s no going back to how it was anytime soon.  Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, they had been fighting a fierce battle against online shopping and significant e-commerce players.  The high street has done a pretty good job of evolving over the years. From its humble beginnings in the late 19th century to its boom in the late 20th, it’s constantly adapted to meet changing consumer needs. The risk to retail But, it’s now reported to be at risk. Sales and footfall started to dwindle decades ago. The dawn of internet shopping in the mid- 2000s saw numbers drop even more dramatically. Indeed, we have heard and seen reports repeatedly on ‘the death of the high street.’ Footfall went down to virtually zero, thanks to this year’s nationwide lockdown Making matters worse, footfall went down to virtually zero, thanks to this year’s nationwide lockdown.   Even Primark, the international ‘hero of the high street,’ saw their average £650m in weekly sales nosedive to nothing without an online presence. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Primark for one came back fighting, and is now expected to hit £2bn by the end of the year.  "After a period of store closure, we are encouraged by the strength of our sales," it’s owner AB Foods said in its latest trading update. And continued: "In the latest four-week UK market data for sales in all channels, Primark achieved our highest-ever value and volume shares for this time of year." The threat of new restrictions As we come to a ‘pivotal point’ in the fight against COVID, with threats of new restrictions, it’s time to think about what the next generation of our high streets will look like. The current crisis gives us some clues: it’s local, it’s data-driven and it’s tech-enabled.  Crucially, it’s proven to work. The digital high street One of the biggest changes the high street has had to adjust to is the digital revolution. New technologies have massively disrupted the way we spend. 82% of consumers now shop online, compared with just 53% ten years ago, with more than half of people aged 65 and over saying they shop online. Age is no longer a barrier. That’s meant that not only have in-store sales dropped, but shopping patterns have become erratic and harder to predict. From opening times to managing stock and staff – everything has had to adapt. We had to pivot quickly to create an online model The issue was exacerbated over lockdown, as consumers had little choice but to shop online. Digital retailers struggled with resources to fulfil orders, case in point was the endless wait times for supermarket delivery slots. But together, we managed to evolve. As nimble businesses, we had to pivot quickly to create an online model that could operate in conjunction with traditional stores, either via click and collect or similar operatives. And now, we are reaping the rewards. Countless high street pubs and restaurants are now allowing customers to order online and finding ways with new openings to take orders online and deliver a table service. It’s undoubtedly an adjustment, and one that will be easier for some to make than others – but those that can establish an omnichannel presence now will be in a strong position for the future. Online versus the high street Historically, in-store has come second to online for a lot of retailers: even those with omnichannel strategies tend to treat the in-store experience like something of a second-class citizen. Now’s the time to change that. The new online stores that have popped up are unlikely to go anywhere, even once lockdown ends. Their success is proof that getting online and in-store more aligned is an opportunity for, not a threat to, the high street. There needs to be the removal of the ‘physical versus online experience’ for brands, and instead blend the two together, which is made possible through mobile technology. Digital transformation grants a huge opportunity for traditional retail. And no better an example than Amazon, the poster child of online retail. Amazon had previously acknowledged the value of a physical retail channel and had opened physical locations for its books and fresh produce business streams. In August 2020, post COVID-19 lockdown, it has continued with its plan to open thirty physical stores in the UK. High street trends Alongside digital, many trends that were perhaps bubbling under the surface of the retail high street have now made their way to the forefront of securing the new landscape.  Sustainable shopping has been accelerated by the crisis. In the last couple of years, retailers’ attention has shifted to focus on making their supply chain and working practices eco-friendlier and socially responsible. Lockdown and our post-retail experience has seen a call for shopping and supporting our local businesses Lockdown and our post-retail experience has seen a call for shopping and supporting our local businesses. Shoppers are more engaged with their local high street now and visiting it more than ever before. Motivated by the instinct to protect their local community. Data has also been key to the new high street. This works both ways, as shoppers are now more informed and in control than ever before. The power of smartphones and increased data coverage has lead to simple but powerful capabilities, like being able to run a price comparison quickly and conveniently. Since a majority of consumers now operate with the ‘mobile mindset’, gone are the days when they will settle for what’s available. Surviving in this new world To survive in this new world, data can support creations of compelling omnichannel experiences.  It can help to build loyalty based on customer values, wants and needs.  And, it allows ways for retailers to understand how customers are moving around the high street to better predict their requirements. Data proves a holistic view of how, where and when customers spend.  Knowing where consumers spend time in store and in which department, demonstrates an understanding of their interests and purchasing choices.  Knowing these preferences, creates the foundation for any great customer experience. The technology-led high street In theory, with so many different opportunities for the high street, it is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change. To deliver in practice, retailers need to lay the foundations for more efficient operations, to meet consumer demands quickly, efficiently, and cost (and time) effectively. Technology arguably holds the key to the challenges of raising standards.  And it’s in small ways that it can make a difference.  For example, instead of keeping customers waiting while members of staff hunt for a charged-up tablet device to look for stock levels or product information, an automated retail asset management solution means this essential knowledge is right at hand. Even seemingly simple processes can be automated to deliver service and improved business efficiency. For example, on average, it takes staff members six minutes to find a key or working device. That is equal to 42 minutes in productivity time every week for each employee, which can cause losses of up to £40,000 a year. This is where an effective key management system minimises downtime and cuts unnecessary costs. Traka is supporting businesses, including Primark and leading department stores, to implement new strategies for the critical control of access to key and equipment, enabling more effective use, and in turn quicker customer response times. Asset management solutions With a fully automated asset management solution in place, valuables such as keys, cash trays, stock and equipment (e.g. handheld scanners) can be monitored and maintained. A full audit trail with real-time reporting means retailers can see exactly who has removed which device, when it was taken and when it has been returned. This results in staff becoming more accountable and equipment being utilised more efficiently, eliminating the need for arduous and costly manual administration. Reshape the bricks-and-mortar infrastructure and breathe new life into the high street By streamlining processes and effectively protecting business assets, Traka supports in-store retail in their ambition to becomes a ripe opportunity to “innovate, delight and create stronger ties with customers.” And become an integral touchpoint in the future of commerce, helping retailers to adapt to the new retail landscape. In summary, there’s the opportunity to reshape the bricks-and-mortar infrastructure and breathe new life into the high street. The industry needs future-focused visionaries who can provide a fresh perspective and reinvigorate bricks-and-mortar retail in the years to come, utilising tools available to them to enhance their proposition to the new post-lockdown consumer.

The new marriage between AI and stadiums
The new marriage between AI and stadiums

Stadiums around the world are still paralysed from the effects of COVID-19. Fans and spectators in masses have been absent from stadiums since April and there doesn’t seem to be a concrete plan on how or when they’ll be able to return to near capacity. The NBA recently opted to form a bubble philosophy concept in Disney’s facilities, although it’s been a relative success, it’s also been a $200 million temporary solution. This then begs the question: How long can stadiums survive like this without spectator’s present? History tells us that stadiums, venues and sport recover from disasters, so what can stadiums do to speed up the process? This is the catalyst for AI to be integrated on mass level to stadiums around the world. AI is the answer AI’s role in getting fans and spectators back is huge, through capabilities such as: Social Distance Monitoring Crowd Scanning/Metrics Facial Recognition Fever Detection Track & Trace Providing Behavioural Analytics Technologies such as IREX.ai is now working alongside National Leagues, Franchises and Governing Bodies to implement AI surveillance software into their CCTV/surveillance cameras. This is now creating a more collaborative effort from the operations team in stadiums, rather than purely security. Stadiums around the world are still paralysed from the effects of COVID-19 AI surveillance software such as IREX.ai when implemented into the surveillance cameras can be accessed by designated users on any device and on any browser platform. Crowd metrics Arming stadiums with AI-powered surveillance tools can detect crowd metrics such as “people counting” and “group statistics”. This ensures stadium personnel can monitor social distancing with precision, accuracy and immediately. Alerts can be set up throughout parts of the stadium to alert senior staff members when overcrowding can appear with real-time videos, analytics and photos to their hand-held device, such as a smartphone. Fever detection Thermal cameras have been implemented throughout facilities including stadiums and are helping assist to spot people with elevated temperatures. What IREX.ai implements is an alert system, coupled with facial recognition of any individual(s) that read an elevated body temperature. This alert system then provides security and health officials with a photo of the individual with the elevated body temperature, meaning staff can react quicker to the situation prevent this individual from entry. Pandemic monitoring by facial recognition  Thermal cameras have been implemented throughout facilities including stadiums and are helping assist to spot people with elevated temperatures Through facial recognition, staff members will be able to locate individuals through simply uploading a photo. It has never been easier to find a person of interest. With masks becoming an everyday part of society, facial recognition has come under scrutiny regarding the accuracy when a mask is worn. Irex.ai still maintains a 96% accuracy with individuals wearing masks and can set up alerts for any individuals not wearing a mask. Another important aspect of facial recognition is finding persons of interest quickly through technology like IREX.ai’s “searchveillance”. The future is here. Designated staff can track a person from when they enter the stadium by simply uploading their photograph. An example of how this can assist stadium personnel is to help relocate lost children inside the stadium with their guardians/parents when they are separated. Another attribute would be any individuals banned from entering the stadium would trigger alerts once they appear under surveillance, a fantastic collaborative tool to use with Law Enforcement.    Return on investment With security solutions, one of the biggest issues with any security investment is a lack of an ROI. This is where AI security is breaking the mould. The ability to provide business analytics, consumer/fan behaviours, traffic patterns, etc, allows other departments within the organisation to gain vital information that can assist with their strategies and practices. Stadium security will never be the same in a post-COVID world, so why will its practices stay the same? AI & Stadiums is no longer the future, it’s the 2020 solution.

Thermal screening: The technology that will lead us out of lockdown
Thermal screening: The technology that will lead us out of lockdown

Across the world, the impact of the current pandemic has majorly disrupted how we function in our everyday lives, as a society, and the ways in which we do our jobs. Throughout, our personal safety and wellbeing, as well as that of our families, neighbours and colleagues, has been paramount - and adapting our day-to-day lives to meet social distancing measures has been a learning curve for us all. As we start to reassemble normal life, precautionary measures will continue to be put in place to achieve the universal aim of mitigating the spread of the virus as much as possible. As different countries reach new stages of this process, some parts of the world continue to live and work in lockdown, whilst some are beginning to open up. This means governments, as well as businesses and organisations, will need to think beyond one-way systems and sanitation stations to contain the risk of infection as more people begin to return to the outside world. Tracing the spread of COVID-19 Of course, this will need to be driven by higher-level support from leaders in government, healthcare and technology to develop innovative ways of tracking and tracing the spread of COVID-19. From contact tracing solutions, to self-reporting apps and thermal screening cameras – governments and businesses across Europe have a new responsibility to seek and reinforce the most effective ways to ensure people’s safety. These measures are particularly pertinent to those reopening their doors as lockdown eases, and those returning to a daily routine of commuting to and serviced office spaces. As more and more people begin to move through public and commercial areas, we will rely more on technology to run in the background to ensure safety and wellbeing is monitored - much like that of the everyday CCTV camera. Thermal temperature screening cameras One piece of technology that we can expect to see as more commonplace is the thermal temperature screening cameras and monitoring system. An example of this kind of device, is D-Link’s recently launched all-in-one, intelligent fever screening kit – which includes a dual-lens thermographic camera, blackbody calibrator, as well as integrated management software. Governments, as well as businesses and organisations, will need to think beyond one-way systems and sanitation stations to contain the risk of infection The premise of temperature screening cameras like this one, is to harness thermal imaging technology coupling it with AI to identify if a person is experiencing elevated temperatures, and raise the alarm automatically when someone at risk of spreading is detected. To monitor the progression or depletion of COVID-19, technologies such as AI facial recognition will play an important role in mitigating the risks of the virus spreading. Thermal cameras that use AI can easily capture and manage employee’s temperature and stop their entrance if a fever is detected. For this reason, such devices are normally installed in a doorway or entrance to a building to quickly detect and identify those displaying symptoms before entering a building. This type of surveillance will be detrimental to the management of COVID-19 in the world of a ‘new normal’ – as companies feel their way out and learn as they go along with people’s health and wellbeing continuing to be centre of the mind. Just as lockdown has had an impact on physical as well as mental health, so too will the adjustment to living life post-pandemic. Not only in getting used to and dealing with the emotional and mental pressures of life on the ‘outside’ as they leave lockdown, but they also face the very real risk of contracting the virus and the worries they may have of spreading it. Appropriate installation of temperature screening Companies and organisations have a responsibility in these times to play a supportive role towards employees, such as allowing them to continue working from home until they feel comfortable to work in an office setting. Equally, as restrictions ease, employers have a duty to make the workplace a safe place that is able to uphold the wellbeing of staff, which is where, as we wait for a vaccine, we must make use of the available technology. However, in the case of the thermal camera, in order for it to deliver effective results, it must be installed appropriately. To support this, we have outlined some key points to consider when deploying a temperature screening camera here: Choose a solution that features a blackbody calibrator – a vital part for any temperature screening device. A blackbody calibrator is the basis for accurate calibration of infrared thermography devices and allows the device to accurately detect a fever. Check for facing windows or doorways and heat sources such as radiators as these increase the risk of stray heat or cold sources throwing off readings according to the ISO standard associated with this type of equipment Be wary of weather and changes in climate as the device will need time to acclimatise – in order for readings to be clear individuals coming in from outside must wait five minutes before being screened When mounted, the camera must face individuals head-on and in parallel with their face to capture the inner eye area which is crucial for temperature reading Consider an option using AI which will automatically recognise individuals based on photos in the system Check applicability and legality of temperature screening cameras before deploying There’s a long way to go before life will fully return to normal. In the meantime, and to help everyone along the way, it’s essential that the right measures are in place to protect the physical and mental wellbeing of those we are responsible for. For anyone who is exploring options, know that there is help out there to provide guidance and expertise on the solutions that will be right for you and your business - now, as we go through the remainder of lockdown, and as we slowly move back into everyday lives.

Latest ASSA ABLOY news

ASSA ABLOY announces acquisition of Olimpia Hardware, Latin America’s renowned glass hardware and accessories brand
ASSA ABLOY announces acquisition of Olimpia Hardware, Latin America’s renowned glass hardware and accessories brand

ASSA ABLOY has announced acquiring Olimpia Hardware, renowned glass hardware and accessories brand in Latin America and the Caribbean. "I am very pleased to welcome Olimpia into the ASSA ABLOY Group. This constitutes an important next step in our strategy to grow market leadership in emerging markets,” said Nico Delvaux, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ASSA ABLOY. Acquisition of Olimpia Hardware "The addition of Olimpia complements our business in Latin America, further supporting the growing trend of openings utilising glass and aluminum products," said Lucas Boselli, Executive Vice President of ASSA ABLOY and Head of the Americas Division. Olimpia Hardware was established in 1999 and serves Latin America and the Caribbean regions. ASSA ABLOY will continue to sell Olimpia branded products across the region. Sales for 2019 amounted to about 13 MUSD (approx. 125 MSEK) with a good EBIT margin. The acquisition will be accretive to EPS from start.

LEAF Identity Consortium enables interoperability with encrypted smart cards
LEAF Identity Consortium enables interoperability with encrypted smart cards

Can a smart card be used securely for multiple applications (and among multiple companies)? End users are demanding such interoperability, and they also want openness to switch out their access control systems in the future without being “locked in” to one vendor. Those are the goals of the LEAF Identity consortium, a collection of companies that can share encrypted access codes for numerous applications to enable MIFARE DESFire EV2 chip cards to be used across multiple vendors. Smart card systems - more secure Almost everyone in the industry now knows that low-frequency (125 kHz) “prox” cards are not secure; in fact, low-cost cloning equipment is readily and inexpensively available. As the industry transitions to encrypted cards, challenges of interoperability persist. Keeping smart card systems more secure are encrypted “keys” – strings of 32 alphanumeric characters encoded onto the card chips. Information is exchanged via radio frequency (RF) in a challenge-response interaction when a card is presented to a reader. The most recent EV2 card enables one encrypted key to be used for up to 16 devices (and among a variety of manufacturers). LEAF Identity Consortium enables interoperability with encrypted Smart Cards LEAF consortium enables encryption sharing using protocols that ensure each manufacturer’s systems can interface with a card chip in the same way. Specifically, each card has a “shared data structure,” which means that the location of information is arranged on a card chip in a predictable and consistent manner. Member companies adhere to that structure in order to be interoperable using a single credential. There are no license fees or intellectual property rights involved.  Secret key The approach involves a LEAF Custom Cryptographic (Cc), a “secret” key owned by the end user but managed by a third party. “When we present these concepts to integrators, they realize that, first, they need to get their clients to pay attention to the risks around proximity cards and to migrate to encrypted card technology,” says Laurie Aaron, Executive Vice President, WaveLynx Technologies Corp. “Then we explain the benefits of custom-owned keys and of the LEAF data structure. Then integrators can differentiate themselves by selling the value of the end user staying in control and having unlimited interoperability.” Access control manufacturer WaveLynx is implementing the LEAF concept, which is the brainchild of CEO Hugo Wendling, who saw the advantages of leveraging the ability of an EV2 chip card to authenticate access to multiple applications. Key management service WaveLynx set up the specification, maintains the website, and is involved when a manufacturer wants to become LEAF-enabled. They provide a key management service (for life) to end users based on LEAF capabilities. End users “own” the keys and can ask to share them with any other manufacturer. Sharing a key involves two key custodians (engineers), each of whom only has access to half of the encrypted key in order to keep it secure. Combining capabilities The LEAF consortium provides a way for smaller manufacturers to work together to increase their market share without putting anyone’s intellectual property at risk. Working together, smaller manufacturers can assemble systems to compete more effectively with larger manufacturers. In effect, they combine their capabilities rather than compete. LEAF Consortium partners include Allegion, ASSA ABLOY, Brivo, Eline by DIRAK, Linxens, RFIDeas, and Telaeris. Biometric partners include Idemia and IrisID. Biometric devices may either store their biometric on the card or on a central database and access it through the badge number. The LEAF standard continues to evolve in terms of where a biometric template is stored on the chip. Although the standard does not currently offer mobile credentials, mobile functionality will be available by the second quarter of 2021 (or sooner).

ASSA ABLOY’s brand Yale Home announces Smart Delivery Box and Cabinet Lock available for purchase
ASSA ABLOY’s brand Yale Home announces Smart Delivery Box and Cabinet Lock available for purchase

Yale Home announces that the Yale Smart Delivery Box and Yale Smart Cabinet Lock are now available for purchase. Both are available with a Yale Connect Wi-Fi Bridge and are supported by the Yale Access App, enabling customers to manage and monitor their package deliveries and cabinet contents directly from their phone, from anywhere in the world. These new smart storage offerings take the safety and convenience Yale customers have come to know and expect from the brand and extend them into new parts of the home, providing users with further peace of mind. “Over the past 180 years, Yale has become synonymous with secure door locks,” said Jason Williams, President of the Smart Residential Group U.S., ASSA ABLOY. Non-invasive solution “It was a natural decision for us to integrate everything we’ve learned from protecting homes from the outside, to other elements around your home. Additionally, online shopping has steadily increased over the years – in 2020 it’s become more prevalent than ever before and extends beyond the traditional online orders to include grocery deliveries and more. Our new Smart Delivery box will be a necessity for consumers looking for a way to secure their increased deliveries.” The Yale Smart Delivery Box, designed in partnership with Kingsley Park The Yale Smart Delivery Box, designed in partnership with Kingsley Park, a Step2 Company brand, provides a secure, non-invasive solution to the 36% of American households who have experienced package theft. Placed outside wherever the user commonly receives packages (e.g. porch, garage), the box can be tethered or weighted with sand in the base. With a design that seamlessly fits into any home style, the Smart Delivery Box keeps packages hidden from plain sight and protects items from inclement weather like rain and wind. Using the Yale Access App, users can enable. Accommodating perishable items ‘Delivery Mode’ which will leave the box unlocked until a delivery is made, from any carrier. Once the delivery is made, the box will Auto-Lock, securing the package, and the user will receive a notification. Each box also includes a Yale Connect Wi-Fi Bridge, so users can lock, unlock, share access with others at will and receive notifications from anywhere. A third option for secure delivery is to provide delivery personnel with an entry code for the Yale Smart Keypad (included with select models). Whichever method chosen, the box gives flexibility and accessibility to all kinds of delivery personnel as well as any friend/family member who may want to retrieve or deliver a package. The box is available in two designs, Kent and Brighton, both of which can be outfitted with an insulated cooler, sold on Amazon, to accommodate perishable items. Guarding valuable items The Yale Smart Cabinet Lock is installed inside cabinets or drawers to guard valuable items The Yale Smart Cabinet Lock is installed inside cabinets or drawers to guard valuable items, such as jewellery or important documents. It can also help keep children away from items like medicine, alcohol, or cleaning supplies. It’s particularly useful for owners of vacation rentals. The Smart Cabinet Lock can not only be used to secure valuables from renters and guests, but also store cleaning supplies for maintenance workers. Mounted on the cabinet’s interior base with either 3M adhesive or screws, customers can unlock and lock it from anywhere, grant access to trusted parties, and be notified whenever it’s opened with the Yale Access App and Yale Connect Wi-Fi Bridge. Smart storage line “By introducing the new Smart Cabinet Lock, Yale is committing to not only securing your home, but also your valued items inside of it,” added Jason Williams. “As our customers grow their families and open up their homes to outside parties, they can confidently trust in Yale to secure their valuables and ensure their children don’t get into something they shouldn’t.” “As people are increasingly renting out their homes to vacationers, our new Smart Cabinet Lock makes it so they no longer have to pack up and move specific items each time a booking is placed – they can now simply lock them up and know they’ll still be there upon their return.” The third member of Yale’s new smart storage line, the Smart Safe, will be available in 2021.

Related white papers

A brief history of access control credentials

Boosting on-site safety and security

5 reasons to integrate mobile technology into your security solution