Use your phone for access control

First some basics

Access control regulates who’s allowed access to an organisation, at what locations and when. To do this, an access control system uses some form of identification to recognise and verify the person requesting access. When choosing your access control system, it’s important to consider carefully which identification methods suit your organisation best, both now and in the future. There are a variety of identification options – ranging from access codes to access cards, biometric data and mobile phones – and some are more suitable for some applications than others.

Your phone as an identifier

Mobile phones function well as access badges. It’s a simple, easy-to-use option that’s convenient for most people, but there are still some drawbacks. First, as there’s a wide variety of phone models, not every phone responds in the same way to badge readers. Secondly, depending on the technology you’re using, security can be a real issue. Lots of phones are vulnerable to cyber threats and they can be skimmed from a greater distance than access cards. Thirdly, you should provide a backup option in case the person’s phone battery is dead or their phone is malfunctioning.

Which technologies are most common?

Near Field Communication (NFC)

NFC is similar to RFID (radio frequency identification). However, some characteristics, such as user convenience, reading distance and durability, depend on how NFC is implemented in the access control system.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

BLE uses a wireless signal over a short distance, but has a larger range than NFC. The advantages of this technology are user convenience, a reading distance of several metres and the potential to combine it with RFID card technology.

Readers that support mobile phones
 
Phones don’t just replace access cards straight out of the box. You need readers developed for mobile access control such as the MACE reader developed by Nedap Identification Systems or any other mobile phone reader that uses open standards. There are several other aspects to consider too, particularly which technologies are supported and also the option to adjust the reading range to a convenient level. Proper encrypted communication is particularly valuable when you don’t want keys hanging around.
 
Open standards

An access control system based on open standards gives you the freedom to choose how you implement different identification methods such as mobile phones. It also allows you to adapt and add to the methods of identification you use in the future. Opens standards make managing your access control system easier too because you can link it to your other information systems.

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