Access control software - Expert commentary

Smart Offices: How is mobile ID changing the way we access the office?
Smart Offices: How is mobile ID changing the way we access the office?

If you’re a security or facilities manager, you may already be aware of the quiet revolution that’s taking place across businesses and organisations up and down the country. By the end of 2020, 20% of all ID and access control systems featured mobile capability, and this is set to increase by a further 34% over the next three years. There’s no doubt that using a smartphone or mobile device in place of traditional credential and access control is a growing trend that’s only been sped up by the pandemic. It’s true that many businesses are still very much focused on remote working, although many are now starting to implement new-and-improved strategies that are better suited to protect the workforce moving forward. Mobile ID systems As the next normal becomes clearer, businesses will be reviewing procedures such as access control, occupancy monitoring, reducing touch points and tracking visitors. Mobile ID systems are ideally suited to this task. But what are the key reasons for considering such a setup in 2021? But why is this new technology so well-suited to future-proof your physical access system, and why is it becoming so popular? Eradicating outdated legacy credentials Have you seen just how vulnerable outdated Proximity card technology can be? Low-frequency 125kHz cards can be cloned in a matter of seconds with the use of cheap, readily available tools. Despite their weaknesses, they are still used by a huge majority of businesses – big and small. All smartphones include two industry-standard features that make them perfect for operating a secure, contactless credential Replacing such a system with a mobile-enabled system is one of the best ways to increase security ten-fold. Thanks to a cloud-based infrastructure, mobile ID offers best-in-class security and cryptography. All smartphones include two industry-standard features that make them perfect for operating a secure, contactless credential. Bluetooth Smart and NFC (Near Field Communication) make them the best product to operate such a credential via a secure app. If you’re looking for best-in-class security in 2021, mobile access is most definitely the way forward. Removing touch points across the business Reducing touch points and the adoption of touchless facilities has become a key priority for businesses in the wake of COVID-19. Even as businesses start to return to the office and operate a home/office split, it will be imperative that unnecessary contact is kept to an absolute minimum between staff. The traditional issuance of identification and access control credentials can pose problems in this regard. Facility and security managers who are responsible for onboarding and processing ID have done the process face to face. Mobile access makes it possible to carry this process out without people coming into direct content. First, the security manager has access to a secure portal, allowing them to create, manage and edit credentials anywhere. They can upload and remotely transfer mobile ID and access control credentials directly to users’ smartphones over the air. Via the secure app, users can view and see their credentials and immediately begin using it for ID and access control by simply placing their smartphone over card readers. Enabling a more flexible way of working The way in which we work has changed for good. Even as people more people return to the office in 2021, a majority of businesses will be operating a home/office split indefinitely. This once again reinforces the need for a smarter, more adaptable onboarding system. Implementing mobile ID is the perfect way of doing this: over-the-air delivery of credentials and security data is now a given, helping businesses create the perfect balance between the home and the office. No longer do people have to come into the office for the onboarding process. Increasing convenience and user experience More often businesses are realising the value mobile ID can have for enhancing the work experience as well as security Ok, so mobile ID is the perfect way of increasing security and adapting workplaces to a post-COVID way of working. And we’ve not even touched on the most obvious advantage yet: Convenience. How many times have you forgotten your ID card? We’re sure it’s more times than you forget your smartphone. These powerful processors have become intertwined with the way we carry out tasks on a daily basis. They’re so vital that people will soon notice if they’ve forgotten it. From an employee’s perspective, mobile ID and access control is simple, convenient and extremely user-friendly. More and more businesses are realising the value mobile ID can have for enhancing the work experience as well as security. From the employer’s perspective, mobile ID means it’s easier for administrators to manage access and credentials. Future-proofing access control now will ensure that in the longer term, mobile ID is well worth the investment. The annual expenditure of printing ID cards and purchasing credentials can be vast, while reissuance costs can also quickly add up for larger organisations. These issues are a thing of the past for businesses using mobile ID. Mobile ID perfect tool for 2021 and beyond Until mobile ID, new and improved credentials’ main focus was on increasing security. Mobile ID not only delivers that, but it also provides a more convenient way of accessing the office in a way that’s perfectly suited to returning to the office in 2021. If there was ever a time to upgrade, now is the time. Summing up, mobile access is changing the way we access the office by: Eliminating weak links in security systems such as outdated legacy card technologies Eradicating the need for touch points across multiple areas of the workplace Enabling a smarter, more flexible approach to onboarding Increasing convenience – for both employers and employees.

We have the technology to make society safer – how long can we justify not using it?
We have the technology to make society safer – how long can we justify not using it?

While the application of facial recognition within both public and private spheres continues to draw criticism from those who see it as a threat to civil rights, this technology has become extremely commonplace in the lives of iPhone users. It is so prevalent, in fact, that by 2024 it is predicted that 90% of smartphones will use biometric facial recognition hardware. CCTV surveillance cameras  Similarly, CCTV is a well-established security measure that many of us are familiar with, whether through spotting images displayed on screens in shops, hotels and offices, or noticing cameras on the side of buildings. It is therefore necessary we ask the question of why, when facial recognition is integrated with security surveillance technology, does it become such a source of contention? It is not uncommon for concerns to be voiced against innovation. History has taught us that it is human nature to fear the unknown, especially if it seems that it may change life as we know it. Yet technology is an ever-changing, progressive part of the 21st century and it is important we start to shift the narrative away from privacy threats, to the force for good that LFR (Live Facial Recognition) represents. Live Facial Recognition (LFR) We understand the arguments from those that fear the ethics of AI and the data collection within facial recognition Across recent weeks, we have seen pleas from UK organisations to allow better police access to facial recognition technology in order to fight crime. In the US, there are reports that LAPD is the latest police force to be properly regulating its use of facial recognition to aid criminal investigations, which is certainly a step in the right direction. While it is understandable that society fears technology that they do not yet understand, this lack of knowledge is exactly why the narrative needs to shift. We understand the arguments from those that fear the ethics of AI and the data collection within facial recognition, we respect these anxieties. However, it is time to level the playing field of the facial recognition debate and communicate the plethora of benefits it offers society. Facial recognition technology - A force for good Facial recognition technology has already reached such a level of maturity and sophistication that there are huge opportunities for it to be leveraged as a force for good in real-world scenarios. As well as making society safer and more secure, I would go as far to say that LFR is able to save lives. One usage that could have a dramatic effect on reducing stress in people with mental conditions is the ability for facial recognition to identify those with Alzheimer’s. If an older individual is seemingly confused, lost or distressed, cameras could alert local medical centres or police stations of their identity, condition and where they need to go (a home address or a next of kin contact). Granted, this usage would be one that does incorporate a fair bit of personal data, although this information would only be gathered with consent from each individual. Vulnerable people could volunteer their personal data to local watchlists in order to ensure their safety when out in society, as well as to allow quicker resolutions of typically stressful situations. Tracking and finding missing persons Another possibility for real world positives to be drawn from facial recognition is to leverage the technology to help track or find missing persons, a lost child for instance. The most advanced forms of LFR in the market are now able to recognise individuals even if up to 50% of their face is covered and from challenging or oblique angles. Therefore, there is a significant opportunity not only to return people home safely, more quickly, but also reduce police hours spent on analysing CCTV footage. Rapid scanning of images Facial recognition technology can rapidly scan images for a potential match Facial recognition technology can rapidly scan images for a potential match, as a more reliable and less time-consuming option than the human alternative. Freed-up officers could also then work more proactively on the ground, patrolling their local areas and increasing community safety and security twofold. It is important to understand that these facial recognition solutions should not be applied to every criminal case, and the technology must be used responsibly. However, these opportunities to use LFR as force for good are undeniable.   Debunking the myths One of the central concerns around LFR is the breach of privacy that is associated with ‘watchlists’. There is a common misconception, however, that the data of every individual that passes a camera is processed and then stored. The reality is that watch lists are compiled with focus on known criminals, while the general public can continue life as normal. The very best facial recognition will effectively view a stream of blurred faces, until it detects one that it has been programmed to recognise. For example, an individual that has previously shoplifted from a local supermarket may have their biometric data stored, so when they return to that location the employees are alerted to a risk of further crimes being committed. Considering that the cost of crime prevention to retailers in recent years has been around £1 billion, which therefore impacts consumer prices and employee wages, security measures to tackle this issue are very much in the public interest. Most importantly, the average citizen has no need to fear being ‘followed’ by LFR cameras. If data is stored, it is for a maximum of 0.6 seconds before being deleted. Privacy Privacy is ingrained in facial recognition solutions, yet it seems the debate often ignores this side of the story Privacy is ingrained in facial recognition solutions, yet it seems the debate often ignores this side of the story. It is essential we spend more time and effort communicating exactly why watchlists are made, who they are made for and how they are being used, if we want to de-bunk myths and change the narrative. As science and technology professionals, heading up this exciting innovation, we must put transparency and accountability at the centre of what we do. Tony Porter, former Surveillance Camera Commissioner and current CPO at Corsight AI, has previously worked on developing processes that audit and review watch lists. Such restrictions are imperative in order for AI and LFR to be used legally, as well as ethically and responsibly. Biometrics, mask detection and contactless payments Nevertheless, the risks do not outweigh the benefits. Facial recognition should and can be used for good in so many more ways than listed above, including biometric, contactless payments, detecting whether an individual is wearing a facemask and is therefore, safe to enter a building, identifying a domestic abuse perpetrator returning to the scene of a crime and alerting police. There are even opportunities for good that we have not thought of yet. It is therefore not only a waste not to use this technology where we can, prioritising making society a safer place, it is immoral to stand by and let crimes continue while we have effective, reliable mitigation solutions.  

Unlocking human-like perception in sensor-based technology deployments
Unlocking human-like perception in sensor-based technology deployments

Like most industries, the fields of security, access and safety have been transformed by technology, with AI-driven automation presenting a clear opportunity for players seeking growth and leadership when it comes to innovation. In this respect, these markets know exactly what they want. They require solutions that accurately (without false or negative positives) classify and track people and/or vehicles as well as the precise location and interactions between those objects. They want to have access to accurate data generated by best-of-class solutions irrespective of the sensor modality. And, they need to be able to easily deploy such solutions, at the lowest capex and opex, with the knowledge that they can be integrated with preferred VMSs and PSIMs, be highly reliable, have low install and maintenance overheads and be well supported. With these needs in mind, camera and computer vision technology providers, solutions providers and systems integrators are forging ahead and have created exemplary ecosystems with established partnerships helping to accelerate adoption. At the heart of this are AI and applications of Convolutional neural networks (CNN), an architecture often used in computer vision deep learning algorithms, which are accomplishing tasks that were extremely difficult with traditional software. But what about 3D sensing technologies and perception? The security, safety and access market have an additional crucial need: they must mitigate risk and make investments that deliver for the long-term. This means that if a systems integrator invests in a 3D sensing data perception platform today, it will support their choice of sensors, perception strategies, applications and use cases over time without having to constantly reinvest in alternative computer hardware and perception software each time they adopt new technology or systems. This begs the question - if the security industry knows what it needs, why is it yet to fully embrace 3D sensing modalities? Perception strategy Intelligent perception strategies are yet to evolve which sees designers lock everything down at the design phase Well, one problem facing security, safety and access solutions providers, systems integrators and end-users when deploying first-generation 3D sensing-based solutions is the current approach. Today, intelligent perception strategies have yet to evolve beyond the status quo which sees designers lock everything down at the design phase, including the choice of the sensor(s), off-the-shelf computer hardware and any vendor-specific or 3rd party perception software algorithms and deep learning or artificial intelligence. This approach not only builds in constraints for future use-cases and developments, it hampers the level of perception developed by the machine. Indeed, the data used to develop or train the perception algorithms for security, access and safety use cases at design time is typically captured for a narrow and specific set of scenarios or contexts and are subsequently developed or trained in the lab. Technology gaps As those in this industry know too well, siloed solutions and technology gaps typically block the creation of productive ecosystems and partnerships while lack of commercial whole products can delay market adoption of new innovation. Perception systems architectures today do not support the real-time adaptation of software and computing engines in the field. They remain the same as those selected during the design phase and are fixed for the entire development and the deployment stage. Crucially, this means that the system cannot deal with the unknowns of contextually varying real-time situations where contexts are changing (e.g being able to reflex to security situations they haven’t been trained for) and where the autonomous system’s perception strategies need to dynamically adjust accordingly. Ultimately, traditional strategies have non-scalable and non-adaptable competing computing architectures that were not designed to process the next generation of algorithms, deep learning and artificial intelligence required for 3D sensor mixed workloads. What this means for industries seeking to develop or deploy perception systems, like security, access and safety, is that the available computing architectures are generic and designed for either graphic rendering or data processing. Solutions providers, therefore, have little choice but to promote these architectures heavily into the market. Consequently, the resulting computing techniques are defined by the computing providers and not by the software developers working on behalf of the customer deploying the security solution. Context…. we don’t know what we don’t know Perception platform must have the ability to adjust to changes in context, thereby improving the performance post-deployment To be useful and useable in the security context and others, a perception platform must have the ability to adjust to changes in context, can self-optimise and crucially, can self-learn, thereby improving the performance post-deployment. The combinations of potential contextual changes in a real-life environment, such as an airport or military base, are innumerable, non-deterministic, real-time, often analogue and unpredictable. The moment sensors, edge computing hardware and perception software are deployed in the field, myriad variables such as weather, terrain as well as sensor mounting location and orientation all represent a context shift where the perception systems’ solution is no longer optimal. For example, it might be that a particular sensor system is deployed in an outdoor scenario with heavy foliage. Because the algorithm development or training was completed in the lab, the moving foliage, bushes or low trees and branches are classified as humans or some other false-positive result. Typically, heavy software customisation and onsite support then ensue, requiring on-site support by solutions vendors where each and every sensor configuration needs to be hand-cranked to deliver something that is acceptable to the end customer. A new approach for effective perception strategies Cron AI is building senseEDGE, which represents a significant evolution in the development of sensing to information strategy.  It is a 3D sensing perception and computer vision platform built from the ground up to address and remove the traditional deployment and performance bottlenecks we’ve just described. senseEDGE is aware of the user application reaction plan indication to trigger an alarm or turning on a CCTV camera The entire edge platform is built around a real-time scalable and adaptable computing architecture that’s flexible enough for algorithms and software to scale and adapt to different workloads and contexts. What’s more, it has real-time contextual awareness, which means that the entire edge platform is, at any time, aware of the external context, the sensor and sensor architecture and the requirements of the user application. Furthermore, when it produces the object output data, it also aware of the user application reaction plan indication, which could be triggering an alarm or turning on a CCTV camera when a specific action is detected. This approach turns traditional perception strategies on their head: it is software-defined programmable perception and computing architecture, not hardware-defined. It is free from the constraints imposed by traditional CPU or GPU compute dictated by hardware architecture providers and not limited to the perception built defined during design time. And, being fully configurable, it can be moved from one solution to another, providing computation for different modalities of sensors designed for different use cases or environments, and lower risk of adoption and migration for those developing the security solution.  Future perception requirements senseEDGE is also able to scale to future perception requirements, such as algorithms and workloads produced by future sensors as well as computational techniques and neural networks that have yet to be invented. Meanwhile, latency versus throughput is totally software-defined and not limited by providers of computing architecture. Finally, contextually aware, it is fully connected to the real world where the reflexes adapt to even the subtlest changes in context, which makes all the difference in time and accuracy in critical security situations. This is how CronAI sees the future of perception. It means that security and safety innovators can now access and invest with low risk in a useable and scalable perception solution that can truly take advantage of current and future 3D sensor modalities.

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Johnson Controls acquires Qolsys, Inc. to enhance its smart building solutions portfolio
Johnson Controls acquires Qolsys, Inc. to enhance its smart building solutions portfolio

Johnson Controls has announced it has acquired the remaining stake of Qolsys Inc., a globally renowned residential and commercial security and smart-home manufacturer, after owning a majority stake in the company since 2014. Smart building solutions expert Qolsys enhances Johnson Controls global innovation platform, delivering next generation security and smart building solutions. The Qolsys founders and leadership team will remain in Silicon Valley (San Jose, California), assuming key roles in Johnson Controls’ global intrusion business. Qolsys enhances Johnson Controls global innovation platform, delivering next-gen smart building solutions Johnson Controls continues in its mission to deliver smarter, safer, more intelligent and connected buildings, by deploying emerging technologies, such as embedded IP, artificial intelligence and machine learning through state-of-the-art solutions and partnerships. Johnson Controls is at the forefront of fundamental transformation of how spaces and places are perceived and enjoyed by balancing and responding to the flow of information, services and people that occupy buildings. OpenBlue digital platforms By applying data from both inside and outside buildings, Johnson Controls’ OpenBlue digital platforms empower customers to manage operations, while delivering safety and security in dynamic and agile environments.       "Qolsys has grown from a startup to a renowned security platform provider with over 4,000 dealers and service providers worldwide. Johnson Controls sees long-term opportunities to bring Silicon Valley innovation and culture to our broader cloud-enabled IoT solutions in building management, fire and HVAC businesses," said Jeff Williams, President of Global Products, Johnson Controls. "The opportunity to acquire Qolsys allows Johnson Controls to achieve operational efficiencies and scale across our global markets, while further enhancing the suite of products and services offered on our digital platform, OpenBlue." IQ Panel 2 Plus and peripherals The award-winning IQ Panel 2 Plus and peripherals have driven explosive growth in North America and across the globe with future-proof features, supported by over-the-air software updates, built-in panel camera, Bluetooth disarming and innovative installation, and diagnostic tools to reduce costs and increase user engagement and satisfaction. Qolsys continues to show consistent growth of services and dealers, which led to US$ 150 million in revenues during fiscal year 2019.    "As the world becomes more connected and the innovation curve continues to ramp at unprecedented speed, we are excited to join Johnson Controls," said Dave Pulling, Qolsys Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Dave will be occupying the post of Vice President and General Manager of the global intrusion products business for Johnson Controls, which had US$ 500 million in revenue in fiscal year 2019. Advanced cloud-enabled solutions firm This is a major milestone in our 10-year journey to disrupt and transform the security industry" Dave adds, "We are committed to our customers in the security channel while continuing to invest in our roadmap and emerging verticals around the globe. This is a major milestone in our 10-year journey to disrupt and transform the security industry with advanced cloud-enabled solutions that transcend traditional intrusion offerings including advanced automation, energy management, apartment management, building management and wellness for aging in place." The combined volume of Qolsys, DSC, Bentel, Visonic - PowerG and Tyco products positions Johnson Controls as the market share major in advanced security solutions worldwide. IQ Hub, Panel, Water and Router products Qolsys recently announced roadmap products, including the IQ Hub, a lower-priced, third-generation IQ Panel; the IQ Router, a next-generation mesh networking solution to elegantly address the rapidly complex connected home; IQ Water, a connected water shut-off valve designed for mass market retrofit and a fourth generation IQ Panel due in 2021 with Qualcomm chipset supporting AI, M2M and next generation connectivity. Johnson Controls will offer Qolsys products throughout global markets. The IQ Panel 2 Plus and a full line of security and home automation devices are available from authorised Qolsys distributors.

Tyco to launch a wide range of access control, intrusion and video products at The Security Event 2019
Tyco to launch a wide range of access control, intrusion and video products at The Security Event 2019

Visitors to The Security Event will be among the first to see live demonstrations of some of the latest products to be launched by Tyco, the security division of Johnson Controls. A wide range of access control, intrusion and video products from the American Dynamics, Exacq, Illustra, Bentel, CEM Systems, DSC, Kantech, Software House and Visonic brands, which are supplied under the Tyco umbrella, will be on show on stand SE102. These include: Access control credential iotega, an all-in-one smart security and home automation platform for residential and small commercial properties A new camera to cloud solution which provides a cost-saving and efficient and method of managing IP cameras and securely storing video in the cloud. The recently launched Illustra Flex IR 30 x PTZ cameras which have adaptive IR illumination that adjusts the intensity of the IR in line with the operator controlled zoom setting of the camera. A new 8 channel VideoEdge Deep Intelligence Network Video Recorder (NVR), which utilises machine learning techniques with the help of a powerful Graphic Processing Unit (GPU). This optimises the ability of the NVR to display highly accurate video intelligence compared to standard methods of video analytics. Kantech EntraPass software which enables users to operate any number of doors where card access is required and provides support for a server based Go Pass mobile App that allows card holders to use their mobile phones as an access control credential. iotega, an all-in-one smart security and home automation platform for residential and small commercial properties. Commercial security exhibition Tyco is a Founding Partner of The Security Event which takes place at the NEC Birmingham on 9-11th April, 2019 and is intended to fulfil the need for a UK focused commercial security exhibition. “The opportunity to take an active role as a Founding Partner in an industry event which will be at a location which so many of our customers consider ‘home’, is extremely welcome,” said Gordon Morrison, GB Sales Director for the Tyco Security Products access control and video brands. “The concept, focus and size of the show makes it ideal for us to showcase our unified fits with our requirements and plans for a major part of our business."

Visonic, Tyco Security Products division wins 2016 ADI Global Distribution Supplier of the Year award
Visonic, Tyco Security Products division wins 2016 ADI Global Distribution Supplier of the Year award

The award recognises the enthusiasm and expertise of the Visonic sales and technical support teams Visonic, the wireless intruder detection division of Tyco Security Products, has won the 2016 ADI Global Distribution Supplier of the Year award. The award, which was announced at a recent conference attended by ADI Global Distribution staff and suppliers, recognises the enthusiasm and expertise of the Visonic sales and technical support teams. Visonic PowerG alarm systems ADI Global Distribution has been a distributor of Visonic products for a number of years and has achieved considerable success with the sale of Visonic PowerG alarm systems. Designed to meet the demand for a cost-effective, reliable wireless intruder alarm solution, PowerG is easy and quick to install, and provides central monitoring stations with remote diagnostic and maintenance tools. “The award is in recognition of the positive attitude and expertise of the Visonic pre and post sales teams,” said Mark Massie, Sales Director, UK & Ireland for ADI Global Distribution. “Visonic has done a superb job in getting Visonic PowerG specified and creating new business opportunities for us, as well as establishing close working relationships with our team. To win this prestigious award against stiff competition from a large number of other manufacturers is testament to Visonic’s efforts to provide ADI Global Distribution with the highest levels of service, as well as quality products.”

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