Access control software - Expert commentary

4 ways to keep your workplace protected from COVID-19
4 ways to keep your workplace protected from COVID-19

The unprecedented global impact of COVID-19 has taken its toll on all of us, but as cases of the virus thankfully recede, employers are now forced to confront how they can enable a safe return to work for employees. For many employers, this means they will have to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, redesign workspaces to maintain social distances, carry out more frequent cleaning, manage the transmission risk and find alternatives to touch-based security devices. Protecting workplace occupants in any emergency requires preparation and clear communication. This is especially critical in a health crisis involving an infectious disease. These are some of the essential best practices that could help organisations reduce the impact on their employees and operations during this pandemic. 1. Use a visitor management system With a visitor management system, organisations have a single source of real-time and historical insights into who is, or was recently, in the workplace. This is especially important because of the need to perform contact tracing should anyone in the organisation show symptoms of COVID-19, meaning everyone they have been in contact with needs to be contacted and asked to isolate. Yet still, first impressions are made at the front desk or lobby, where the visitor experience needs to be a positive one. At the same time, though, any emergency event requires that there be strict control over who is entering the workplace. This policy also needs to be clearly communicated to visitors. Doing this minimises risk to visitors as well as the workforce. In addition to delivering a high-quality visitor experience, the ideal visitor management system must: Enable organisations to meet regulatory compliance mandates and facilitate check-in at a self-service kiosk to minimise wait times. Customise the visitor experience to support specific security needs, such as accelerating and simplifying check-in or requiring additional security pre-checks. Automate compliance as it relates to visitor access rules with historical visit reports. 2. Pre-check questions at visitor registration kiosks Organisations can strengthen security at the registration kiosk using a flexible, enterprise-grade visitor management system to add visitor sign-in steps. This has proven successful in the past when used to control the spread of infectious disease during an outbreak. An example of this is a U.S. children's hospital which managed to reduce facility infection rates by 25 percent over a two-year period using a commercial, off-the-shelf physical identity and access management (PIAM) solution from HID Global. The solution provides two particularly important capabilities that can be used by organisations to protect their workplace from the uncontrolled spread of an infectious disease: Enhance visitor registration policy with additional mandatory questions to help identify any visitors who may need other screenings. Extend the visitor registration kiosk with a mandatory pop-up asking further questions during visitor check-in. 3. Understand who has visited your workplace Successful controlling the spread of infection throughout a facility requires the ability to automatically maintain an auditable trail of activity. This can be done using an enterprise-grade visitor management system that makes it easy to retrieve historical visit reports. This provides a timeline of who was in the workplace, and when they were there. Key features include: A single dashboard providing useful visitor insights at your fingertips. Historical reports that provide visitor details including location and contact information, all in compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other privacy regulations. 4. Clearly communicate how infection risks can be reduced Global organisations must actively communicate with visitors and employees on the outbreak of infectious diseases and follow best practices outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO). Here are several things organisations can do in this area to help maintain a safe and healthy workplace: Re-enforce and communicate WHO best practices with guideline posters in the front lobby and throughout the workplace. Add posters that also encourage regular and thorough washing of hands. Encourage everyone to cough or sneese into their shirt sleeve in their flexed elbow or cover their mouth and nose with a tissue. Encourage everyone to keep a relatively safe distance from each other and use alternatives to handshakes when saying hello. Organisations must contend with a variety of workplace challenges during the outbreak of an infectious disease. These challenges can be solved with best practices that include a comprehensive visitor management system that automates critical check-in policies and maintains an auditable trail of visitor activity.  

The role of building systems to ensure safety as employees return to work
The role of building systems to ensure safety as employees return to work

Returning to work after the global pandemic will not be business as usual, and security systems are an important asset when it comes to helping to keep occupants and buildings safe. For example, video analytics can provide insight into how spaces have previously been used and can help to predict where and when occupants encounter each other or congregate. These foot-traffic patterns can inform settings for a variety of devices – like ventilation and temperature controls – and even help owners create social distancing plans and monitor personal protective equipment (PPE) compliance. “While the ‘new normal’ is still being defined, we believe there will be a greater focus on creating healthier environments while also complying with new regulations,” says Marcus Logan, Global Offering Leader, Honeywell Commercial Security. “Temperature, humidity, energy efficiency, security, safety, comfort, productivity, and demonstrating compliance with regulations are all a part of a healthy building.” For example, social distancing is a new concept for the workplace. How do you make that happen in an open work setting, in breakrooms, elevator lobbies and meeting spaces? Optimised systems create healthier environments Anxious employees will need reassurance about returning to the workplace Building owners will need to look at how they can optimise their systems – or deploy new ones – to create a healthier environment. Building technologies, like those provided by Honeywell's Healthy Buildings solutions, provide building owners with more control over critical factors to encourage sustained compliance with changing building standards, safety guidelines, government-issued regulations, and a company's risk management policies. These solutions also provide transparency for occupants into a building's status, says Logan. Hygiene will be a critical issue: People will want to know that the spaces are ready for their return. Increased cleaning procedures and schedules will evolve, and a way will be needed to demonstrate the procedures are effective and that they have been strictly adhered to. Identifying ways to measure effectiveness of sanitisation and track compliance to the procedures will be a key challenge to solve. This is a space that will evolve significantly in the coming months and years, says Logan. Access control and video analytics Contact tracing is a new requirement in some businesses, and security technology – like access control and video analytics with advanced reporting – can help. Access control technology integrated with video analytics can be used to trace occupant movements within a facility. These technologies capture data that can be used with advanced reporting to provide a digital footprint of where a person has been within a facility and if they may have been exposed to someone identified as being infected with a contagious virus. Building owners can then proactively notify exposed individuals evolve to self-quarantine and minimise further spread of an infection. Video analytics can help to predict where and when occupants encounter each other Anxious employees will need reassurance about returning to the workplace. They will not only seek confidence that the building is optimised for a healthier environment but also that processes are in place to quickly identify and respond to potential issues. Transparency and visibility into how the building works and the health of the environment will help to reassure occupants returning to the workplace. “One way to do this is to share building analytics with occupants – to help them understand factors about the indoor air quality or occupancy density,” says Logan. Controlled health, safety and security Honeywell’s solutions provide building owners with more control over critical health, safety and security factors to encourage sustained compliance with changing building standards, safety guidelines, government-issued regulations and a company’s risk management policies, Logan adds. Visibility into how the building works and the health of the environment will help to reassure occupants returning to the workplace Every day there is new information coming from the medical and scientific community about COVID-19, and the building industry is just starting to learn what it all means. Logan warns that there is no single solution that will keep every environment healthy and safe. A good strategy features deploying a combination of solutions, optimising systems and being vigilant to make sure that companies are sustaining compliance to new and changing regulations, says Logan. “Today more than ever we must be mindful of the changing culture of how buildings are managed by making apparent the need to be mindful of health and well-being in all aspects of our lives,” says Logan. Honeywell has developed outcome-based solutions that allow building owners to transparently address building quality factors while supporting their business continuity needs in the uncertain environment. “We’re giving them the data they need to confidently reassure their employees to accelerate their business operations,” he adds.

Elevated temperature screening is paving the way to Britain’s reopening
Elevated temperature screening is paving the way to Britain’s reopening

Technology has played a vital role in how businesses have enabled their employees to work productively from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those of us who can do our jobs from home you only have to look at the ‘Zoom Boom’ to see how much our working lives have changed compared to the beginning of the year. Despite the fact that those companies that can are now productively and efficiently operating remotely, the country is now facing the next challenge in this crisis: how to safely reopen workplaces for those who can’t. There is no argument that the economy hasn’t taken a hit during this unpredictable time. Shops, restaurants and entertainment facilities have been forced to close, and 23% of the country’s workforce (6.3 million people) has been furloughed. It’s no surprise that the Bank of England has warned that the UK is heading towards its sharpest recession on record. To counter this economic risk, the government is taking steps to slowly and cautiously reopen the economy by easing lockdown measures, sending people back to work and allowing businesses to reopen. With non-essential retail outlets now able to open from the 15th June, the question business owners face is how to operate safely and maintain social distancing practices, which are set to remain in place until such time as a vaccine is widely available. With lockdown easing and a ‘new normal’ on the horizon, the health of the country’s workforce mustn’t be forgotten in a bid to save the economy. This is why technology that can allow for a controlled return to work, while mitigating any risks to the health of consumers and employees, must play a part in the easing of lockdown. Temperature screening in the new normal Elevated temperature screening is one technology that should play a key part in return to work strategies and the safe reopening of businesses. This valuable solution uses a thermal and optical camera to analyse body temperature, which is a key indicator of the presence of a potential illness, and discreetly alerts the operator when the set temperature threshold is exceeded by someone screened by the tool. With temperature screening technology in place, the exposure of potentially infected individuals to others can be dramatically decreased and the risk of a localised outbreak minimised. Furthermore, for businesses such as retailers whose success is dependent on customers feeling safe to visit the premises, it has the added benefit of giving them additional assurances that visible measures for their protection are in place. In combination with other solutions, such as vigorous testing and screens to protect employees and customers, returning to work can be safe and controlled. With temperature screening technology in place, the exposure of potentially infected individuals to others can be dramatically decreased The reality of a ‘new normal’ may already be visible in some industries, such as grocery retail where one-way systems, plastic screens and constant cleaning are already in place. However, elevated temperature screening has countless applications for both essential and non-essential industries, ranging from offices and train stations, to hospitals and pharmacies. This screening technology allows businesses to take preventative steps to minimise the chances of the wider workforce and customers coming into contact with someone exhibiting symptoms of a potential illness. A number of businesses are already deploying this technology, such as Vodafone, which has deployed heat detection cameras at key UK sites to protect its employees. The camera used by the telco can screen up to eight people at once and 100 people per minute, while judging body temperature in less than half a second – all of which makes it ideal for congested and high traffic areas. Not all solutions are created equal Over the past few months, we have been inundated with images and videos of temperature screening taking place within key industries, which have continued to operate through the pandemic. However, the hand-held thermometers commonly being used require the device to be within an extremely short range of the subject and are only able to screen one person at a time. This is why remote elevated temperature screening solutions are so valuable – especially given that social distancing guidelines are unlikely to be relaxed in the near future. Stand-off solutions can enable temperature screening to take place without the need for close human interaction, further safeguarding employees and reducing the risk of contact with potentially infected individuals. Elevated temperature screening has countless applications for both essential and non-essential industries, ranging from offices and train stations, to hospitals and pharmacies Along with remote capabilities, there are a number of other crucial factors to take into account. The solution must be quick and easy to implement, as well as being highly accurate. When paired with a blackbody, the accuracy of temperature screening solutions can be within 0.3°C. Connectivity is also key and adopting an end-to-end solution linked to a centralised command and control location is invaluable. With holistic connectivity, these solutions can encompass cameras installed in multiple locations, and alarms can be viewed locally, remotely or on a smartphone app. This means that staff don’t need to provide direct supervision to the device on-site. With the guidelines regarding which industries and sectors can reopen changing on an almost daily basis, it’s important that these protective solutions can be installed without overhauling the surveillance infrastructure already in place. Looking ahead, adopting a solution with an upgrade path to other enhancements, such a facial recognition, is favourable as they can be used in conjunction with future and existing security measures.  Shop local Stand-off solutions can enable temperature screening to take place without the need for close human interaction Businesses have plenty on their minds as they prepare for the uncertainty that is sure to continue throughout the rest of the year and beyond. However, due diligence can’t be left to the wayside when looking to adopt an elevated temperature screening solution. There are high-risk vendors present in the market, many of which have been blacklisted in the US, and they must be given a wide berth. Buying British-made technology can alleviate these security concerns, as well as avoiding any logistical issues caused by the breakdown of global supply chains.  As the economy cautiously reopens, the country will have to adapt to a ‘new normal’ over the coming months. Elevated temperature screening solutions should be implemented by businesses to protect the health of the workforce and customers alike – ultimately paving the way to a safe and controlled return to work.

Latest Idesco news

Idesco secures Infobric’s construction site with its transparent reader
Idesco secures Infobric’s construction site with its transparent reader

Idesco devised a transparent reader to simplify Infobric’s construction site system management, making it powerfully adaptable to widely different market needs and technology standards. For a while, construction sites have provided a textbook example of how much electronic access control systems can benefit managers. Controlling access to a site, including restricted zones, machinery access (such as lifts and elevators), increases both security and safety, while also helping track authorised personnel and even equipment utilisation. Ensuring regulatory compliance Infobric Ease possesses a wide range of functionality, from site access to energy control and much more An automatic, electric system, with that much functionality combined in a single service meets a high-value need in the construction industry. Today, Infobric provides a cloud-based digital platform, Infobric Ease, to help construction site managers monitor and secure key elements, such as site safety, while increasing worker productivity and ensuring regulatory compliance. Infobric Ease possesses a wide range of functionality, from site access to energy control and much more. In addition to simplifying site management and boosting worker productivity, it simplifies sites’ compliance with staff ledger regulation across a number of European countries. Worker productivity has been enhanced by the elimination of queues to register new staff on site and attendance. Lastly, controlled access increases worker safety while reducing theft and vandalism. Simplifying worker attendance monitoring Cloud management contributes even more to time and labour cost savings while also letting site owners conveniently fulfil their law-mandated employer obligations. To prevent tax avoidance and illegal workers, some European countries require construction site managers to upload the employee data registered in their staff ledgers – which Infobric Ease also provides, thereby also simplifying worker attendance monitoring. In short, the digital tracking of all this data saves significant time and money. The RFID industry commonly labels this type of reader ‘transparent’, because it seamlessly transmits transponder data Infobric integrated Idesco’s 9 CD 2.0 Slim Pin T reader into Infobric Ease as its vital front-end interface with construction workers. The RFID industry commonly labels this type of reader ‘transparent’, because it seamlessly transmits transponder data – fully-encrypted to ANSSI Level 1 Architecture specification – directly to a system, without any mediating keys. This lets systems themselves directly control all aspects of transactions – including data collection and reader response – resulting in both a highly secure and a cost-effective solution. Several identification card standards For integrators like Infobric, 9 CD 2.0 Slim Pin T’s direct, ‘transparent’, interaction between transponder and system not only simplifies transactions. It also lets them use more of the available features in the chips in workers’ transponders. This further benefits site owners and security managers because system updates can be implemented with greater agility and cost savings. “There are several identification card standards we adapt our products and systems to work with. So, we really wanted a card reader we could use in all our markets, without needing different hardware updates after a system upgrade or launching a new functionality across our different markets. The ‘transparent’ reader from Idesco turned out to be the perfect solution”, says Björn Hilliges, IT & Electronics Director at Infobric. Product design and expertise Every month, the Infobric Ease system handles approx. 11,000,000 card readings" “Infobric and Idesco have been co-operating for more than 10 years and through several product development projects. Over the years, Idesco repeatedly demonstrated their excellent quality in both product design and expertise, always providing us with products and solutions that reliably withstood very rough, inclement conditions amid frequent use at our customers’ construction sites,” says Björn Hilliges, IT & Electronics Director at Infobric. “Every month, the Infobric Ease system handles approx. 11,000,000 card readings. So, Idesco is a key partner for Infobric, and each day their readers fill a vital role at approx. 15,000 construction sites,” says Björn Hilliges, IT & Electronics Director at Infobric. Convenient regulatory compliance Infobric ease benefits for construction sites Convenient regulatory compliance on staff ledger registration in numerous European countries Increased productivity by reducing administrative tasks Time savings from agile system updating (despite differing card standards in different markets) because reader updates are no longer needed Enhanced reader functionality for workers with included keypads Reliability of Scandinavian-designed readers that are robust, weather-proof, maintenance-free Sites can now substantively help prevent undocumented labour and unprofessional contractors Infobric Ease features: Cloud-mediated service Seamless data collection Energy control Regulatory-compliant staff ledger Automated electronic access Mobile attendance & access Staff access control Vehicle access control Machine control Smart locks Making construction sites safer Infobric designs systems that make construction sites safer, more productive and reduce costs. Infobric’s solutions ensure the right people are in the right place at the right time at the site. Infobric provides with the best-working solution for the worksite, for both work hours and after, in packages that have been serving successfully on European construction sites large and small. Their goal is to become the digitisation partner for the construction industry in the Nordics. With 30 years of experience, RFID technology pioneer Idesco Oy makes RFID readers, transponders, controllers and touch screen devices. Every day, for customers around the world, their devices collect data and enhance security for a variety of access control, vehicle identification, logistics and inventory systems.

Mari Melakari shares her thoughts on Idesco’s supply chain
Mari Melakari shares her thoughts on Idesco’s supply chain

Mari Melakari is one of the newest to join Idesco’s SCM team. She oversees incoming component logistics and inventory, ensuring adequate supply for production members. Additionally, every day Mari expedites delivery of numerous Idesco product consignments to customers world-wide. Teamwork is integral to Mari’s work at Idesco. Every morning, Mari and her SCM team review the pending task and delivery schedule to parse assignments among individuals. Providing a healthy counterbalance to work When Mari began at Idesco, it was a new kind of job with a robust learning curve. Yet the work variety since then has also kept her job interesting. “The best days give me a feeling of achievement; it’s nice leaving at the end of the day, with everything in its place, knowing shipments left for destinations on time,” she says. Mari has a most interesting hobby. In pursuit of her life-long dream, she applied to and was accepted into the Student Theatre of Oulu. She is already in rehearsal for her sixth performance. As the performance date approaches, she anticipates a string of evening rehearsals will keep her busy. Acting, however, provides a healthy counterbalance to work, Mari concludes.

Idesco Security Key Management Service secure Evotec’s systems against cargo thefts
Idesco Security Key Management Service secure Evotec’s systems against cargo thefts

Denmark’s Evotec chose Idesco readers to complete their cargo securing system they had designed for transport companies’ vehicles. Evotec’s system does more than merely preventing cargo theft. Drivers also feel more secure when delivering because hijack risks are also reduced. This is because cargo is robustly secured when drivers leave vehicles behind. Idesco 8 CD 2.0 DESFire readers Evotec selected Idesco 8 CD 2.0 DESFire readers for deployment on delivery vehicles Danish cargo companies had been struggling with regular delivery cargo thefts. Drivers did not feel secure when delivering and financial losses were growing. Evotec decided to develop a novel vehicle security solution for cargo companies. As part of their solution, Evotec selected Idesco 8 CD 2.0 DESFire readers for deployment on delivery vehicles. Idesco readers have since been installed on several hundred Danish cargo trucks and vans. Early in their design process, Evotec had seen a clear need to strictly limit access to vehicle’s cargo space to authenticated personnel only. They had known RFID technology could provide accurate, secure user identification and authentication. They learned that Idesco’s MIFARE DESFire readers, paired with 128-bit AES-encrypted DESFire transponders, would easily repel transponder hacking or cloning. Best of all, they learned Idesco designed many of its readers for installing outdoors, reliably resisting impacts, moisture, dirt and temperature extremes. Security Key Management service Idesco’s Security Key Management service saved Evotec extensive time and resources"Bo Schønning, Evotec Aps CEO, described the subsequent cooperation of Idesco with his company, “We got great assistance in choosing the correct solution for our system”. In addition to coded readers, Evotec ApS also subscribed to Idesco’s convenient Security Key Management Service for ensure compatibility with every vehicle’s readers. Since DESFire demands readers and transponders be encoded with matching security keys, Idesco’s Security Key Management service saved Evotec extensive time and resources, freeing them to focus exclusively on installations for their customers’ vehicles without worrying about managing DESFire keys themselves. “We feel safe when Idesco handles this data for our customers”, says Bo Schønning. The cargo drivers of Evotec’s customers are assigned vehicle specific transponders to carry, which open the cargo space when presented to the reader guarding it. For increased security, the driver cabin locks automatically when the cargo space unlocks. Additionally, cargo doors automatically lock when they close and will remain locked when the vehicle’s engine is running. The system works equally well in vehicles equipped with liftgates. Opening the vehicle’s driver cabin with the ignition key doesn’t affect its cargo space: it remains continuously locked. If needed, a vehicle’s cargo space could be opened remotely via fleet management software. If a transponder is stolen, a vehicle’s readers can be reprogrammed to not recognise the transponders. Fleet management and vehicle tracking Vehicles are also equipped with GPS transmitters that update fleet software with vehicle locations and routes Vehicles are also equipped with GPS transmitters that update fleet software with vehicle locations and routes. The fleet software’s online tracking and route reporting also provides cargo companies a powerful fuel control ability that can reduce fleet costs. “This system has significantly increased drivers’ security at work while reducing costs caused by theft”, notes Bo Schønning, CEO, Evotec ApS. “Fuel costs have also been reduced, as the cars aren’t left idling anymore. It is easier to control the fleet, and our customers can also follow the quality of deliveries with this system”, he continues.” RFID technology Founded in 1989, Idesco is an experienced company in the field of RFID technology. From the very beginning, Idesco was a pioneer in using RFID, deploying it for identification in industrial applications. Down through the years Idesco continued expanding its reputation as a pioneer provider by innovating numerous technological alternatives and multiple technologies for a variety of different application areas. Every day, Idesco devices collect data and enhance security for a variety of access control, vehicle identification, logistics and inventory control systems.

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