Access control systems & kits - Expert commentary

‘We want to become better known for access control’ - Q&A with Bosch Building Technologies’ Gregor Schlechtriem
‘We want to become better known for access control’ - Q&A with Bosch Building Technologies’ Gregor Schlechtriem

Gregor Schlechtriem has worked in the access control market for over 20 years and is now responsible for the Access & Intrusion Business Unit at Bosch Building Technologies. In this interview, the expert talks about key industry trends, the impact of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, technical innovations and his company’s strategy. Mr. Schlechtriem, you have many years of experience in the security technology market. What is your background and what are your responsibilities as Senior Vice President at Bosch Building Technologies? Gregor Schlechtriem: I am a trained engineer and electrical technician, and have been involved with access control in the broadest sense, since I started my career in the late 1980s. I started in the field of parking garage technology and then switched to security technology in 2001, as Managing Director of micos GmbH, which specialised in traditional access control. micos GmbH was known for its highly available and highly secure access control systems, for critical infrastructure and government applications. Many systems from that time are still in use today and continue to be supported and upgraded. Bosch is continuing micos’ business here? Gregor Schlechtriem: Exactly, micos was taken over in 2004 by Bosch Security Systems, now known as Bosch Building Technologies. Since then, we have continuously been developing the access control business. Being part of the Bosch Building Technologies division, we benefit a lot from international cooperation with colleagues Being part of the Bosch Building Technologies division, we benefit a lot from international cooperation with colleagues and from overlap with other product lines, such as intrusion detection technology and video security. This gives us the opportunity to implement outstanding project solutions for demanding customers in an international environment. In developing this business, I rely on my experience from other interesting roles at Bosch that I took on, after micos was bought in 2004. For a time, I worked in the European System Integrator Business, which I also had the privilege of managing for several years, as well as being directly responsible for business units. In Fairport, USA, I had the overall responsibility for intrusion detection technology for many years, as I later did in Eindhoven for video systems. Since 2018, the global access control and intrusion detection business has once again been my direct responsibility. At Bosch Building Technologies, we have in the meantime assigned sales to the respective business units, so that we can develop our product and solution portfolio, in close cooperation with sales and our regular customers. Our main task now is to make our access control portfolio accessible to a broader market. We want to make Bosch much better known, as an access control provider, in the international market. After all, with our own access product portfolio, the power of the Bosch Group and over 40 years of experience in this sector, we have a lot to offer. As an expert in access control, how do you see the industry developing? In which direction is it currently evolving? Gregor Schlechtriem: First of all, I see that security requirements are constantly increasing. Whereas there are currently still simple ‘key replacement systems’ that merely record card numbers, such an approach, to a large extent, no longer meets today’s security and user experience requirements.The core task of access control has not changed over the years In the beginning, access control was more or less a kind of key replacement. Later, there was the possibility of increasing security via a pin code, i.e., via verification through simple data inputs. The next step in this direction was biometrics, which is another key step up, because it allows verification by means of unmistakable characteristics. However, the core task of access control has not changed over all the years and has basically always remained the same: access control means determining who has an access request and checking whether this request can be fulfilled. What’s next on this path to greater security? Gregor Schlechtriem: Biometrics-based access control is becoming increasingly powerful and user-friendly through the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Here, data protection plays a major role, as wherever identities are established and movement data is recorded, it is necessary to reconcile the evolving technology with data protection.Biometrics-based access control is becoming increasingly powerful and user-friendly through the use of artificial intelligence The question of data protection is becoming even more significant, as systems increasingly migrate to the Cloud. Bosch puts particular emphasis on ensuring that, even in the cloud, the data generated in access control is always in line with data protection rules, regardless of where it is located. In my opinion, this trend towards the Cloud will continue, because companies are increasingly looking for complete service offerings, so that they can focus on their core business. Also, a system in the Cloud is easier to maintain and always up-to-date with the latest software, which makes cloud solutions even more attractive for providers and users. How can higher security be reconciled with a good user experience? Gregor Schlechtriem: Today, the card still plays a central role in the user experience, as the essential credential. Another current trend is ‘one card for everything’: with the increasing availability of secure multi-function smart cards, the possibility arises to use cards beyond the pure access function, for example, for payment in the canteen, at the catering and coffee machines, and in the parking garage, as well as simple access to other properties and so on.The security of cards has evolved significantly and kept pace with requirements The security of the cards, the reading and encryption processes, has evolved significantly and kept pace with requirements, although we are also facing an installed base that no longer meets these requirements, due to outdated systems. Today, it is standard for communications between reader and card to be encrypted. In some cases, the keys are also only held centrally to further increase security. The security systems industry was also affected by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. How do you think the industry has changed? What technical solutions have emerged during this time? Gregor Schlechtriem: First of all, there is a certain need for retrofitting in the industry due to changes in how buildings are used. For example, American retailers used to be open around the clock and always had staff on site. Now, due to COVID-19, stores are also closed, and this results in a whole new need for intrusion detection and access control systems to protect the buildings. For access control, an obvious task has arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, namely to track contacts, as far as this is compatible with data protection. We actually expected more to happen here, but in our observation, many companies did quite little, despite clear and simple steps that could have been implemented relatively quickly. The installed access control systems clearly lag behind the technical possibilities. Another topic that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus is hygiene Another topic that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus is hygiene. Companies should actually have invested in contactless systems here and retrofitted speed gates or motorised doors. But in many cases this was not put into practice. The door opener is still often used, which has to be operated manually and therefore, is touched multiple times. But, if everyone presses the same button, that doesn't help hygiene. Surprisingly, this is different in North America. Here, ‘request-to-exit’ proximity detectors are used almost everywhere, which avoids this problem completely and releases the door, when an authorised person approaches it. Mobile access and smartphone-based access control are also growing markets. What kind of developments do you see in these areas? Gregor Schlechtriem: I already mentioned that users increasingly want to be able to use one card for several applications. But, what we are seeing here is that even with the most modern cards, which have a lot of applications loaded on them, we are reaching performance limits and the user experience suffers. If you compare the card with the smartphone as a credential, you have a much more attractive integration platform there, which is significantly faster and delivers much better performance. For us, the mobile credential or the smartphone is the future, because it simply offers more possibilities that the card will not be able to provide in the long term. What is the specific direction Bosch is taking here? Gregor Schlechtriem: We are currently working on a broad implementation. A whole team is working on the user experience around the smartphone, because it’s understood that smartphone-based access has to work just as easily, as it currently does with a card.A whole team is working on the user experience around the smartphone In theory it does, but if you look at some of the actual implementations, this topic is still relatively complex. In terms of user experience and automation, we still have quite a way to go, and we are working hard on that at the moment. The user experience is one side of the coin, the other side concerns establishing security in the smartphone as a whole. In other words: How do I make the smartphone secure enough as a mobile credential, to meet my access control requirements? We are also working intensively on this. That's actually an IT task. Do you do this yourself at Bosch or do you work with external experts here? Gregor Schlechtriem: We have our own powerful Bosch IT, which also manages our company smartphones. If our company smartphones are lost, the data on them is automatically deleted. The devices use biometrics to identify users, before they can access the data. It is a sound security concept that a card cannot offer. Moreover, we are working with other partners in the IDunion project, to create the additional infrastructure around mobile credentials as well. What exactly is the IDunion and what role does Bosch play? Gregor Schlechtriem: Digital identities must be openly accessible, widely usable, interoperable, and secure. This applies not only to access control, but to the digitised economy in general. The IDunion project has set itself the task of creating the infrastructure for this, in the form of an independent wallet, i.e., secure identity storage on smart devices. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWI), because digitisation is also a critical social issue. We are intensively involved in the ‘Physical access to the building’ work package in this consortium. Through this involvement, we want to ensure that our access control systems benefit from this infrastructure and are open to future digital business models. Does ‘digital identity management’, which includes biometrics and mobile access, also play a role for Bosch? Yes, it plays an important role for us, and I wouldn’t consider these topics separate Gregor Schlechtriem: Yes, it plays an important role for us, and I wouldn’t consider these topics separate. For me, a mobile device has the advantage that it has already ensured and verified my identity from the moment of interaction. That’s the fascinating thing about it. If I only allow the device to communicate with the access control system, if I have identified myself first, I have implemented biometrics and access control together in a widely accepted process. From my point of view, this is a very interesting perspective, in terms of security and user experience, because the biometrics procedures in smartphones are, I think, the best currently available. In my view, the smartphone has the potential to take over central functions in access control in the future. What are your goals for the access control business of Bosch Building Technologies in the near future? Gregor Schlechtriem: We will continue to focus on specific solutions for large customers. That is the continuation of our current strategy. In these projects, we will introduce new topics as I have just described, i.e., primarily new technology elements. I believe that, precisely because of the longevity of access control, a long-term migration capability is also of particular importance. We want to reach out to the broader market and make more widely available, what we have developed in terms of technology and innovation. We are currently in the process of setting up and optimising our sales organisation, so that it becomes much more widely known that we at Bosch have our own powerful access control portfolio, which can be used for all kinds of applications. In addition, we want to differentiate ourselves in the market with our systems, in line with the motto of our founder, Robert Bosch: ‘Technology for life’. The user experience with Mobile Access should be simple, straightforward, and secure: You hold your smartphone in front of the reader and the door opens.

Protect physical assets from cyber-attacks
Protect physical assets from cyber-attacks

Recent cyber-attacks have disabled and even shut down physical assets. Robust foundational security and training staff, able to recognise an attack can help mitigate the threat, as ABB’s Rob Putman explains. Edge devices and data analytics As cyber security specialists, we must navigate an ever-changing threat landscape, one that is made even more complex by the increased interconnectivity between Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT), as companies look to leverage edge devices and data analytics, as well as remote connectivity, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the threat surface evolves, the industry must guard against attacks on key physical infrastructure, carried out by a range of malicious actors, including nation states and criminals intent on blackmail. The chemicals sector, a high-value target for cyber-criminals Cyber-criminals view the chemicals sector, as a high-value target, because of the potential cost In 2017, not long after a ransomware attack that targeted Maersk, the world’s largest shipping firm, made the news around the world. Another cyber-attack, this time targeting physical industrial assets, generated fewer headlines, and yet could have resulted in both real, as well as financial, damage. Cyber-criminals view the chemicals sector, as a high-value target, because of the potential cost, both financial and reputational, to the operator, should production be interrupted or stopped entirely. Cyber security vulnerabilities put physical assets at risk The attack in question, a ‘Triton’ custom malware attack on a petro-chemical facility in Saudi Arabia, targeted a safety system, taking over system controllers. Bugs in the code triggered an emergency shutdown, but could have led to the release of toxic and explosive gases. It was a vivid reminder of how cyber security vulnerabilities are increasingly putting companies’ key physical assets at risk. Two more-recent high-profile incidents illustrate my point. In February, a Florida water treatment plant was hacked. The malicious actor remotely accessed the system for three to five minutes, during which time they opened various functions on the screen, including one that controls the amount of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) in the water. The hacker changed the NaOH from about 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million, which could have resulted in a mass poisoning event. Colonial Pipeline cyber-attack incident Then, in May, the Colonial Pipeline system that originates in Houston, Texas and carries gasoline, and jet fuel, suffered a ransomware attack. Using a VPN, hackers targeted back-office IT systems, forcing Colonial to shut down IT hosts and network infrastructure, severing communication with those OT systems that are responsible for communicating ‘transactional data’ associated with fuel delivery. In this instance, a single compromised password disrupted Colonial’s ability to invoice its customers. This dependency on OT data stopped pipeline and business operations, and the company was elected to pay the hackers an initial ransom of US$ 4.4 million, in order to restore operations. The Colonial attack was multi-dimensional, in that it not only impacted Colonial’s business, but also the wider US economy and national security, since the pipeline transports nearly half of the east coast's fuel supplies. Outdated IT system elevates physical risk The increased interconnectivity between IT and OT can also create vulnerabilit Attacks such as these prove that, armed with little more than a laptop, an email account and access to the dark web, determined hackers can cause disproportionate damage to physical infrastructure. As mentioned at the outset, the increased interconnectivity between IT and OT can also create vulnerability. Producers often want to know: Is it risky to connect a production asset or their operational environment to the Cloud? My answer is, if you do so without having done any risk audits around people, processes and technology, or without enhancing and maintaining that environment, then yes, that is risky. For example, we often observe that the life cycle of a production asset far outlasts the IT systems that are used to run it. Take a cement kiln. Several generations of plant operators may have come and gone, but that asset may still run, using legacy software, such as Windows XP and why not? Need to replace aging distributed control systems Well, that’s fine, if you are not concerned about having that asset compromised, and all that entails. A ‘flat’ IT network, an aging distributed control system, and machines with legacy versions of Microsoft Windows, all these elements, which are still commonplace in many industries, make it much easier for attackers to find and infiltrate a company, without needing sophisticated tools. The age-old mantra of not interfering with a piece of equipment or software that appears to be working, often applies to the individual assets. For example that cement kiln that are still controlled by the same Windows XP-based control software. However, if we’re honest, things have changed quite a bit, not because something was broken, but because innovation came in. That same kiln control system is most likely connected to other systems, than when first commissioned and that opens it to exposure to threats that it was never designed for. The human element There is a misconception that IoT-connected devices can open companies to risk There is a misconception that IoT-connected devices can open companies to risk, but many recent, high-profile cyber-attacks have been conducted from a laptop, by hacking someone’s VPN, or are a simple phishing/malware attack. In all these cases, the human element is partly to blame. Take the Florida attack. The compromised computer at the water treatment facility was reportedly running an outdated Windows 7 operating system and staff all used the same password, in order to gain remote access via the Teamviewer app, which the hacker was then able to use. Physical and human assets, key to robust cyber security Discussion on the best way to mitigate the threat is often framed solely around specific technical solutions and ignores the fact that robust foundational cyber security is really driven by two very different, but equally important, types of capital: physical assets (e.g. production machinery), and human assets. The truth is that smart digital software and industry-renowned cyber security applications, while critical, are in many cases, only as good as the weakest human link in the chain. Industry would, therefore, do well to ask itself the following question: Do we have a security problem, or a complacency problem? At this juncture, it is important to point out that the majority of companies that ABB works with, are at least aware of the threat posed by cyber attackers, and the potential impact of an attack, on their revenues, reputation and bottom line. User error and human-generated exposures Making sure staff are aware of the threat and training them to respond properly, if they are targeted, is vital However, user error and human-generated exposures are where most of these attacks occur. Those human failures are mostly not due to malicious intent from employees, but to the lack of training of the employees on secure behavior. Making sure staff are aware of the threat and training them to respond properly, if they are targeted, is vital. However, there are also age demographics at play here. Much of the operations employee base is heading towards retirement and often, there is no plan or ability to backfill these people. Need to invest in new digital and automated technologies If you think you don't have enough people now, in order to stay on top of basic care and feeding of the OT environment, with regards to security, what is that going to be like in 20 years? For this reason, there must be a major industry reset, when it comes to its workforce. Companies must invest in new digital and automated technologies, not only to ensure that they stay ahead of the curve and mitigate risk, but also to attract the next generation of digitally literate talent. Robust cyber security is built on solid foundations When we talk about foundational cyber security, we mean fundamentals, such as patching, malware protection, high-fidelity system backups, an up-to-date anti-virus system, and other options, such as application allow-listing and asset inventory. These basic controls can help companies understand their system setup and the potential threats, identify vulnerabilities, and assess their risk exposure. The Pareto principle states that around 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes. In the context of cyber security, that means 80% of exposure to risk comes from 20% of the lack of security. If companies do the foundational things right, they can manage out a significant amount of this risk. Importance of maintaining and upgrading security controls However, having basic security controls, such as anti-virus software in place, is just the first step on that journey. Equally important is having someone within the organisation, with the requisite skill set, or the extra labour bandwidth, to operate, maintain and update those security controls, as they evolve. Educating, training and recruiting existing employees, and the next generation of talent, along with forging partnerships with trusted technology providers, will ensure that industry can leverage the latest digital technologies, in order to drive business value, and secure physical assets against cyber-attacks.

The robotic transformation of the security industry
The robotic transformation of the security industry

The COVID-19 pandemic is only accelerating the expansion of Automation, Robotics, Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), and changing how people live their daily lives. This expansion leads the way with technologies that are developed to solve problems, improve operations, streamline processes and assist people, to focus on learning new skills, creativity, and imagination. Transformation of the physical security industry One of the latest industries to be permanently transformed is physical security. The era of utilising security cameras is slowly changing into more advanced and more efficient technological applications - security robotic solutions. SMP Robotics is a California-based company, which is a pioneer in developing robotic technologies, powered by AI, to assist, improve and deliver on new expectations in today’s world. One of their services is smart surveillance systems. This represents a proactive approach to security. The company, SMP Robotics’ Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Leo Ryzhenko, stated “Autonomous robotic technologies will become a driving force in future security solutions.” Robotics and AI in autonomous security solutions The robots can patrol 24/7, counteracting intrusion and communicating via voice message with guards The company uses robotics and AI technology to implement autonomous security solutions, which reduce liability and overhead, as well as improving the quality of services. Robotic guards are capable of patrolling all types of facilities, in both urban and rural contexts. The robots can patrol 24/7, counteracting intrusion and communicating via voice message with guards. The inspection robots, deployed by SMP Robotics, are easily integrated with many existing security technologies, armed with obstacle avoidance and anti-collision measures, automatically recharge, and can recognise faces up to 50 metres. As the world grows increasingly complex, technology like this is essential to ensure safety for all. AI-enabled autonomous video monitoring ground vehicles The advancements in technological breakthroughs of SMP Robotics position the company and its AI-powered, autonomous video monitoring ground vehicles, to be the most adaptable to any industry, cost-effective for clients’ business needs, in providing various types of services from public safety, crime prevention, to asset protection and physical security. SMP Robotics continues to implement new innovative solutions and groundbreaking technologies in its latest generation of autonomous models. Currently, many were already deployed or in a process to be delivered to a number of key clients, in various industries throughout the globe, from oil & gas, nuclear power plants to data centers, healthcare facilities, and amusement parks. Smart security robots Tal Turner, the Vice President (VP) of Business Development and Partnerships, SMP Robotics, said “We provide autonomous, artificial intelligence, all-weather, all-surface, smart security robots that are turnkey and operate independently on their own, using real-time obstacle avoidance, face recognition, and other cutting-edge technological advancements.” According to Coherent Market Insights, the Robots as a Service (RaaS) market direction will grow by 15.9% by 2028 and reach the threshold of 41.3 billion dollars. SMP Robotics stands at the forefront of the security robotic revolution, making an impactful change to make the world a safer place.

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Looking back at 2020: Security industry rises to meet the pandemic challenges
Looking back at 2020: Security industry rises to meet the pandemic challenges

The coronavirus pandemic had a monumental impact on all aspects of the business world, including the security industry. However, amid the gloom and doom, many security professionals also saw opportunity: New ways the industry’s products could be applied to address the challenges of coping with the virus. This article will review some of those opportunities, based on our reporting throughout the year and including links back to the original articles. During and after the pandemic, security systems are an important asset when it comes to helping to keep occupants and buildings safe as employees return to work. 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. Role of thermal cameras 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. Thermal surveillance, a mainstay of traditional physical security and outdoor perimeter detection, began being deployed early in the pandemic to quickly scan employees, contractors and visitors as part of a first line of defence to detect COVID-19 symptoms. These systems provide flexibility and can offer integrations with multiple VMS platforms and access control devices These systems provide flexibility and can offer integrations with multiple VMS platforms and access control devices. Thermal cameras can be a tool for detecting fever, but any use of the technology for this purpose is full of qualifications and caveats. Importantly, how the camera system is configured makes all the difference in whether temperature readings are accurate, and the downside of inaccurate readings is obvious - and potentially deadly. Temperature detection systems FDA guidelines limit how the cameras are used, not to mention guidance from other regulatory/government bodies such as the CDC. One of our Expert Roundtable panelists compares the market to a “wild west scenario,” and almost all the panelists are clear about how customers should approach the market: Buyer beware. There are many companies jumping into selling temperature detection systems to the state, local governments, hospitals, airports and local businesses, but do they know how to drive one? Anyone can get behind a car and drive it into a wall by accident. The same can happen with a temperature detection system. Customers need to know what questions to ask to ensure they maximise the accuracy of body temperature detection systems. Rise of contactless Spread of the novel coronavirus has jolted awareness of hygiene as it relates to touching surfaces such as keypads. No longer in favor are contact-based modalities including use of personal identification numbers (PINs) and keypads, and the shift has been sudden and long-term. Both customers and manufacturers were taken by surprise by this aspect of the virus’s impact and are therefore scrambling for solutions. Immediate impact of the change includes suspension of time and attendance systems that are touch-based Immediate impact of the change includes suspension of time and attendance systems that are touch-based. Some two-factor authentication systems are being downgraded to RFID-only, abandoning the keypad and/or biometric components that contributed to higher security, but are now unacceptable because they involve touching. "Users do not want to touch anything anymore,” says Alex Zarrabi, President of Touchless Biometrics Systems (TBS). Facial recognition system Another contactless system that benefits from concerns about spread of COVID-19 is facial recognition. New advancement in software, specifically in the areas of algorithms, neural networks and deep learning and/or artificial intelligence (AI), have all dramatically improved both the performance and accuracy of facial recognition systems, further expanding its use for an increasing number of applications. A low-tech solution - the face mask - became a leading preventative measure during the pandemic. But, a high-tech solution is necessary to ensure that everyone is wearing them. Cameras powered by artificial intelligence can now identify whether or not people entering a facility are wearing facemasks and help enforce adherence to mask mandates. This technology is proving to be a cost-effective solution that reduces risks of confrontations over masks policies and gives managers the data they need to document regulatory compliance and reduce liability. Smart video analytics Other technology approaches, including artificial intelligence (AI), were also brought to bear during the pandemic. The German data analytics powerhouse G2K, for example, has developed a Corona Detection and Containment System (CDCS) that is ready for immediate use in record time. Detection takes place in combination with AI-supported data analysis to specifically identify virus hotspots and distribution routes, as well as to identify other potentially infected persons. One specific AI application fuels the reopening of the world and successfully keeps the spread of the virus abated One specific AI application fuels the reopening of the world and successfully keeps the spread of the virus abated. A “collaborative security” application includes a synthesis of smart video analytics, facial recognition, object identification/detection, and thermal cameras that can support the reopening of businesses globally when installed within those facilities frequented by customers. Enforcing social distancing Several applications have been successful to date and will increase in usability in the foreseeable future, creating “smart cities” working together towards a safer, more secure world. The site of one pilot programme is the 250,000-square-foot HID Global facility in Austin. For the pilot programme, 80 HID Location Services readers were installed in a wide area in the facility, including a variety of environments. Initially 30 badges and 30 fobs, all BLE-enabled, were issued to employees. If a badge identifies another nearby beacon (suggesting a social distancing failure), it emits a blinking LED light, which can be seen by the offending co-worker. To ensure social distancing, a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon is emitted from an employee’s fob (or from a badge that has the same functionality). The beacon communicates peer-to-peer with a beacon emitted by another employee’s fob or badge to alert if the location of the two employees is less than six feet apart. For contact tracing, the beacons communicate via a nearby “reader” (a BluFi BLE-to-Wi-Fi gateway) to the Bluzone cloud-based software-as-a-service. COVID-19 white papers In addition, we published several White Papers in 2020 that addressed various aspects of the coronavirus pandemic. They included: The top five security lessons learned that apply across all industries navigating COVID-19. Using video analytics to keep staff, visitors and customers safe by enforcing social distancing. How antimicrobial treatment on door handles and levers can reduce disease spread. How companies can put in extra precautions that will continue to grow and adapt with their environment over the long-term. Determining the practicalities and capabilities of today's thermal cameras to accurately detect body temperature.

COVID-19 worries boost prospects of touchless biometric systems
COVID-19 worries boost prospects of touchless biometric systems

Spread of the novel coronavirus has jolted awareness of hygiene as it relates to touching surfaces such as keypads. No longer in favour are contact-based modalities including use of personal identification numbers (PINs) and keypads, and the shift has been sudden and long-term. Both customers and manufacturers were taken by surprise by this aspect of the virus’s impact and are therefore scrambling for solutions. Immediate impact of the change includes suspension of time and attendance systems that are touch-based. Some two-factor authentication systems are being downgraded to RFID-only, abandoning the keypad and/or biometric components that contributed to higher security, but are now unacceptable because they involve touching. Touchless biometric systems in demand The trend has translated into a sharp decline in purchase of touch modality and a sharp increase in the demand for touchless systems, says Alex Zarrabi, President of Touchless Biometrics Systems (TBS). Biometrics solutions are being affected unequally, depending on whether they involve touch sensing, he says. Spread of the novel coronavirus has jolted awareness of hygiene as it relates to touching surfaces such as keypads “Users do not want to touch anything anymore,” says Zarrabi. “From our company’s experience, we see it as a huge catalyst for touchless suppliers. We have projects being accelerated for touchless demand and have closed a number of large contracts very fast. I’m sure it’s true for anyone who is supplying touchless solutions.” Biometric systems are also seeing the addition of thermal sensors to measure body temperature in addition to the other sensors driving the system. Fingerscans and hybrid face systems TBS offers 2D and 3D systems, including both fingerscans and hybrid face/iris systems to provide touchless identification at access control points. Contactless and hygienic, the 2D Eye system is a hybrid system that combines the convenience of facial technology with the higher security of iris recognition. The system recognises the face and then detects the iris from the face image and zeros in to scan the iris. The user experiences the system as any other face recognition system. The facial aspect quickens the process, and the iris scan heightens accuracy. TBS also offers the 2D Eye Thermo system that combines face, iris and temperature measurement using a thermal sensor module. TBS's 2D Eye Thermo system combines face, iris and temperature measurement using a thermal sensor module Another TBS system is a 3D Touchless Fingerscan system that provides accuracy and tolerance, anti-spoofing, and is resilient to water, oil, dust and dirt. The 2D+ Multispectral for fingerprints combines 2D sensing with “multispectral” subsurface identification, which is resilient to contaminants and can read fingerprints that are oily, wet, dry or damaged – or even through a latex glove. In addition, the 3D+ system by TBS provides frictionless, no-contact readings even for people going through the system in a queue. The system fills the market gap for consent-based true on-the-fly systems, says Zarrabi. The system captures properties of the hand and has applications in the COVID environment, he says. The higher accuracy and security ratings are suitable for critical infrastructure applications, and there is no contact; the system is fully hygienic. Integration with access control systems Integration of TBS biometrics with a variety of third-party access control systems is easy. A “middleware” subsystem is connected to the network. Readers are connected to the subsystem and also to the corporate access control system. An interface with the TBS subsystem coordinates with the access control system. For example, a thermal camera used as part of the biometric reader can override the green light of the access control system if a high temperature (suggesting COVID-19 infection, for example) is detected. The enrollment process is convenient and flexible and can occur at an enrollment station or at an administration desk. Remote enrollment can also be accomplished using images from a CCTV camera. All templates are encrypted. Remotely enrolled employees can have access to any location they need within minutes. The 3D+ system by TBS provides frictionless, no-contact readings even for people going through the system in a queue Although there are other touchless technologies available, they cannot effectively replace biometrics, says Zarrabi. For example, a centrally managed system that uses a Bluetooth signal from a smart phone could provide convenience, is “touchless,” and could suffice for some sites. However, the system only confirms the presence and “identity” of a smart phone – not the person who should be carrying it. “There has been a lot of curiosity about touchless, but this change is strong, and there is fear of a possible second wave of COVID-19 or a return in two or three years,” says Zarrabi. “We really are seeing customers seriously shifting to touchless.”

Nedap partners with Touchless Biometric Systems to host Security Integration Forum 2019
Nedap partners with Touchless Biometric Systems to host Security Integration Forum 2019

Nedap and Touchless Biometric Systems (TBS) are hosting the first Security Integration Forum in the Middle East on 7th October 2019. Held at the Conrad hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, it will bring together technology businesses and experts. The aim is to enable discussion of the latest security industry trends and potential collaborations, and showcase advanced technologies and integrations. The highlight of this first Security Integration Forum is the live experience area. Here, in a live demo of a smart building, attendees can experience seamless integrations of technologies from TBS, and other manufacturers, with Nedap’s AEOS access control. Visitor registration and management The integrations on show will be from best-of-breed solution providers and security equipment manufactures It’s also an opportunity to learn more about the commercial and operational value offered by AEOS and TBS integrations. The integrations on show will be from best-of-breed solution providers and security equipment manufactures. This includes Milestone Systems, Axis communication, CNL Software, Samsotech, Traka, Assa Abloy and Boon Edam, as well as Nedap Identification Systems. The scenarios and features available to experience include: End-to-end security for access control Visitor identification and verification using biometrics Visitor registration and management Vehicle identification Key and asset management Wireless access control using online and offline locks Video management systems and CCTV Physical security information management Identifying new opportunities and partnerships All of the businesses involved will present the technology trends in their business area and market" Jochem van Ruijven, Managing Director at Nedap FZE says: “With this event, we aim to display the incredible strength and expertise of each participating technology partner. All of the businesses involved will present the technology trends in their business area and market.” “It’s an amazing opportunity for security industry experts in the Middle East to come together and get to know the people behind the leading security manufacturers. Not to mention the chance to identify new opportunities and partnerships for their business. More than ever before, decision makers must provide both security and convenience,” says Alex Zarrabi, CEO of TBS and co-host of the Security Integration Forum. “This calls for integrated rather than isolated solutions. Navigating the maze of technologies and interoperability takes more time than people have available. But during a few hours at our forum, decision makers can experience what happens when best-of-breed security manufacturers join forces to solve their challenges.”

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