SRI recently launched a biometrics-embedded tablet equipped with its (IOM) technology
A biometrics-embedded tablet can tag a guard upon entering the building & feed video
of what’s happening beyond secure doors as he/she moves through the facility

The best way to make the case for biometrics is to consider a physical and logical access control scenario, according to biometrics vendor SRI Identity, a program from SRI International, one biometrics company. With advances in security technology, access control systems have come to play a bigger role in organisational efficiency and strategies.

Expanding role of access control systems

Imagine an employee sitting at their desk after entering a facility. The organisation can tailor access and information to that employee across all devices and interfaces (access points, laptops, tablets, smartphones) in a way that not only improves security, but also enables the organisation to track time and attendance, manage inventory control, and, in effect, to integrate biometrics into a broader operational system. SRI Identity's (IOM) solutions offer an efficient, fast and non-invasive method of controlling physical and logical access, says Steve Perna, Executive Director, Products and Solutions Division, SRI International.  “Enterprises can maintain high security without slowing things down,” he says.

Consider the efficiency and productivity gains for a workforce with the use of biometrics. In hourly and shift-based businesses such as retail, hospitality and manufacturing, time and attendance becomes more accurate (no more “buddy punching”) and automated. It also becomes more convenient, eliminating all the extra steps between punching in, recording hours, processing payroll and performing analytics.

SRI Identity technology

The ability to push information out to the edge based on the individual’s access level, location and other factors is a powerful capability, says Perna. A biometrics-embedded tablet could, for example, tag a guard upon entering the building, and feed video of what’s happening beyond secure doors as he/she moves through the facility to better situational awareness.

SRI’s recently launched a biometrics-embedded tablet – equipped with its (IOM) technology – combines the accuracy and convenience of iris biometrics with the functionality and customisation of the Android enterprise computing platform. This enables one device to support workflows including physical access control, time and attendance, inventory control, company messaging as well as addition customisable applications.

Today, biometrics are seeing heavy use in mobile devices as well as banking applications, says Robert Fee, Director of sales, access control, Zwipe. Applications have seen the greatest uptick in replacement of passwords and log-ins, specifically in web and mobile based applications. Biometrics, as a form of security, has the potential to replace current forms of security, including physical, logical and web, he says. Therefore, considering the number of physical keys, access cards and credit/debit cards currently in the marketplace, the potential is excessively large.


Biometrics, as a form of security, has the potential to replace current forms of security, including physical, logical and web
The primary value proposition of using biometrics over traditional security is that it
dramatically enhances security by providing two-factor biometric authentication

Enhanced security with biometric solutions

Fee says the primary value proposition of using biometrics over traditional security (in the case of access control) is that it dramatically enhances security by providing two-factor biometric authentication: your fingerprint. The days of using a PIN for two-factor are gone since PINs can be passed on from employee to employee to non-employee. “The vast majority of electronic access control (EAC) systems in place today authenticate the badge, not the person holding the badge,” says Fee. “Where is the security in that?” Solutions such as Zwipe biometric credentials allow implementation of two-factor authentication without replacing a single reader. No database integration, protection, installation, wiring or maintenance agreements required. It provides more security without any additional steps. Taking the same amount of time to use a biometric product as a traditional PIN-based card or swipe card, a biometric solution will offer greater security and ease of use, according to Zwipe.

Zwipe specifically addresses privacy concerns by never storing a person’s fingerprint. The company creates unique templates that, by themselves, have no value other than within a Zwipe-based solution. Plus, the biometric engine within a Zwipe device is independent of the RF transponder that communicates to an external device, such as a physical or logical access reader. There is no biometric data being communicated between a Zwipe device and reader. Zwipe is the biometric reader.

Entering physical access control market

“We have physical spaces and virtual spaces, and the differences between them are becoming fuzzy,” says Jason Chaikin, President of biometric company Vkansee, which specialises in fingerprint capture for payment, data and other sectors, including physical access control. He notes that biometrics might be used to control an entrance to a building as well as entry into a network on a computer in the building. Additional safeguards can include confirming that a person trying to access a network from a computer in the building is also on record as having entered the building. “It brings together silos of information so we don’t have the weak links we have now,” he says.

Chaikin says physical security devices are on his company’s radar. “I think biometrics should be on a lot more doors than they are now. Our new smaller size sensors can add biometrics for an extra $20 or so per door. The ability to locate the sensor safely under glass opens the doors to outdoor applications in a variety of harsh environments.”

“People are willing to give a new look to biometrics, but the physical access control market is more conservative, so it will take more time,” says Chaikin. “When you contact companies, they are willing to give it a shot. Agile companies will start adopting new biometrics that work quite well – you will see a quick rampup.”

Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

Larry Anderson Editor, SecurityInformed.com & SourceSecurity.com

An experienced journalist and long-time presence in the US security industry, Larry is SourceSecurity.com's eyes and ears in the fast-changing security marketplace, attending industry and corporate events, interviewing security leaders and contributing original editorial content to the site. He leads SourceSecurity.com's team of dedicated editorial and content professionals, guiding the "editorial roadmap" to ensure the site provides the most relevant content for security professionals.

In case you missed it

The physical side of data protection
The physical side of data protection

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated our digital dependency, on a global scale. Data centres have become even more critical to modern society. The processing and storage of information underpin the economy, characterised by a consistent increase in the volume of data and applications, and reliance upon the internet and IT services. Data centres classed as CNI As such, they are now classed as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) and sit under the protection of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI). As land continues to surge in value, data centre operators are often limited for choice, on where they place their sites and are increasingly forced to consider developed areas, close to other infrastructures, such as housing or industrial sites. Complex security needs One misconception when it comes to data centres is that physical security is straightforward One misconception when it comes to data centres is that physical security is straightforward. However, in practice, things are far more complex. On top of protecting the external perimeter, thought must also be given to factors, such as access control, hostile vehicle mitigation (HVM), protecting power infrastructure, as well as standby generators and localising security devices to operate independently of the main data centre. Face value How a site looks is more important than you may think. Specify security that appears too hostile risks blatantly advertising that you’re protecting a valuable target, ironically making it more interesting to opportunistic intruders. The heightened security that we recommend to clients for these types of sites, include 4 m high-security fences, coils of razor wire, CCTV, and floodlighting. When used together in an integrated approach, it’s easy to see how they make the site appear hostile against its surroundings. However, it must appear secure enough to give the client peace of mind that the site is adequately protected. Getting the balance right is crucial. So, how do you balance security, acoustics and aesthetics harmoniously? Security comes first These are essential facilities and as a result, they require appropriate security investment. Cutting corners leads to a greater long-term expense and increases the likelihood of highly disruptive attacks. Checkpoints Fortunately, guidance is available through independent accreditations and certifications, such as the Loss Prevention Certification Board’s (LPCB) LPS 1175 ratings, the PAS 68 HVM rating, CPNI approval, and the police initiative - Secured by Design (SBD). Thorough technical evaluation and quality audit These bodies employ thorough technical evaluation work and rigorous quality audit processes to ensure products deliver proven levels of protection. With untested security measures, you will not know whether a product works until an attack occurs. Specifying products accredited by established bodies removes this concern. High maintenance Simply installing security measures and hoping for the best will not guarantee 24/7 protection. Just as you would keep computer software and hardware updated, to provide the best level of protection for the data, physical security also needs to be well-maintained, in order to ensure it is providing optimum performance. Importance of testing physical security parameters Inspecting the fence line may seem obvious and straightforward, but it needs to be done regularly. From our experience, this is something that is frequently overlooked. The research we conducted revealed that 63% of companies never test their physical security. They should check the perimeter on both sides and look for any attempted breaches. Foliage, weather conditions or topography changes can also affect security integrity. Companies should also check all fixtures and fittings, looking for damage and corrosion, and clear any litter and debris away. Accessibility When considering access control, speed gates offer an excellent solution for data centres. How quickly a gate can open and close is essential, especially when access to the site is restricted. The consequences of access control equipment failing can be extremely serious, far over a minor irritation or inconvenience. Vehicle and pedestrian barriers, especially if automated, require special attention to maintain effective security and efficiency. Volume control Data centres don’t generally make the best neighbours. The noise created from their 24-hour operation can be considerable. HVAC systems, event-triggered security and fire alarms, HV substations, and vehicle traffic can quickly become unbearable for residents. Secure and soundproof perimeter As well as having excellent noise-reducing properties, timber is also a robust material for security fencing So, how do you create a secure and soundproof perimeter? Fortunately, through LPS 1175 certification and CPNI approval, it is possible to combine high-security performance and up to 28dB of noise reduction capabilities. As well as having excellent noise-reducing properties, timber is also a robust material for security fencing. Seamlessly locking thick timber boards create a flat face, making climbing difficult and the solid boards prevent lines of sight into the facility. For extra protection, steel mesh can either be added to one side of the fence or sandwiched between the timber boards, making it extremely difficult to break through. A fair façade A high-security timber fence can be both, aesthetically pleasing and disguise its security credentials. Its pleasant natural façade provides a foil to the stern steel bars and mesh, often seen with other high-security solutions. Of course, it’s still important that fencing serves its primary purposes, so make sure you refer to certifications, to establish a product’s security and acoustic performance. Better protected The value of data cannot be overstated. A breach can have severe consequences for public safety and the economy, leading to serious national security implications. Countering varied security threats Data centres are faced with an incredibly diverse range of threats, including activism, sabotage, trespass, and terrorism on a daily basis. It’s no wonder the government has taken an active role in assisting with their protection through the medium of the CPNI and NCSC. By working with government bodies such as the CPNI and certification boards like the LPCB, specifiers can access a vault of useful knowledge and advice. This will guide them to effective and quality products that are appropriate for their specific site in question, ensuring it’s kept safe and secure.

Data explosion: Futureproofing your video surveillance infrastructure
Data explosion: Futureproofing your video surveillance infrastructure

Video surveillance systems are producing more unstructured data than ever before. A dramatic decrease in camera costs in recent years has led many businesses to invest in comprehensive surveillance coverage, with more cameras generating more data. Plus, advances in technology mean that the newest (8K) cameras are generating approximately 800% more data than their predecessors (standard definition). Traditional entry-level solutions like network video recorders (NVRs) simply aren’t built to handle massive amounts of data in an efficient, resilient and cost-effective manner. This has left many security pioneers grappling with a data storage conundrum. Should they continue adding more NVR boxes? Or is there another, better, route? Retaining video data In short, yes. To future proof their video surveillance infrastructure, an increasing number of businesses are adopting an end-to-end surveillance architecture with well-integrated, purpose-built platforms for handling video data through its lifecycle. This presents significant advantages in terms of security, compliance and scalability, as well as unlocking new possibilities for data enrichment. All of this with a lower total cost of ownership than traditional solutions. Security teams would typically delete recorded surveillance footage after a few days or weeks Previously, security teams would typically delete recorded surveillance footage after a few days or weeks. However, thanks to increasingly stringent legal and compliance demands, many are now required to retain video data for months or even years. There’s no doubt that this can potentially benefit investigations and increase prosecutions, but it also puts significant pressure on businesses’ storage infrastructure. Data lifecycle management This necessitates a more intelligent approach to data lifecycle management. Rather than simply storing video data in a single location until it’s wiped, an end-to-end video surveillance solution can intelligently migrate data to different storage platforms and media as it ages. So, how does this work? Video is recorded and analysed on a combination of NVR, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and application servers. Then, it’s moved to resilient file storage for a pre-determined period, where it can be immediately retrieved and accessed for review. Finally, based on policies set by heads of security, data is moved from file storage to highly secure, low-cost archive storage such as an object, tape or cloud. Data is moved from file storage to highly secure, low-cost archive storage Long-term storage This process is known as tiering. It allows businesses to use reliable, inexpensive long-term storage for most of their data, whilst still enabling security pioneers to retrieve video data when the need arises, such as during a compliance audit, or to review footage following a security breach. In a nutshell, it offers them the best of both worlds. Scaling your video surveillance infrastructure can be a headache. Businesses that rely on NVRs – even high-end units with 64 or even 96 hard drives – are finding themselves running out of capacity increasingly quickly. In order to scale, security pioneers then have to procure new boxes. With NVRs, this inevitably involves a degree of guesswork. Should they go for the largest possible option, and risk over provisioning? Or perhaps a smaller option, and risk running out of capacity again? Common management console Security pioneers can easily add or remove storage capacity or compute resources – separately or together As businesses add new cameras or replace existing ones, many end up with inadequate surveillance infrastructure made up of multiple NVR boxes along with several application servers for running other surveillance functions such as access control, security photo databases, analytics, etc. This patchwork approach leaves security pioneers scrambling for capacity, maintaining various hardware footprints, repeating updates and checks across multiple systems, and taking up valuable time that could be better spent elsewhere. By contrast, flexible HCI surveillance platforms aggregate the storage and ecosystem applications to run on the same infrastructure and combine viewing under a common management console, avoiding ‘swivel chair’ management workflows. Plus, they offer seamless scalability. Security pioneers can easily add or remove storage capacity or compute resources – separately or together. Data storage solutions Over time, this ensures a lower total cost of ownership. First and foremost, it removes the risk of over provisioning and helps to control hardware sprawl. This in turn leads to hardware maintenance savings and lower power use. Many security pioneers are now looking beyond simple data storage solutions for their video surveillance footage. Meta tags can provide context around data, making it easier to find and access when needed Instead, they’re asking themselves how analysing this data can enable their teams to work faster, more efficiently and productively. Implementing an end-to-end video surveillance architecture enables users to take advantage of AI and machine learning applications which can tag and enrich video surveillance data. These have several key benefits. Firstly, meta tags can provide context around data, making it easier to find and access when needed. Object storage platform For instance, if security teams are notified of a suspicious red truck, they can quickly find data with this tag, rather than manually searching through hours of data, which can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Plus, meta tags can be used to mark data for future analysis. This means that as algorithms are run over time, policies can be set to automatically store data in the right location. For example, if a video is determined to contain cars driving in and out of your premises, it would be moved to long-term archiving such as an object storage platform for compliance purposes. If, on the other hand, it contained 24 hours of an empty parking lot, it could be wiped. These same meta tags may be used to eventually expire the compliance data in the archive after it is no longer needed based on policy. Video surveillance architecture Continuing to rely on traditional systems like NVRs will fast become unsustainable for businesses Even if your organisation isn’t using machine learning or artificial intelligence-powered applications to enhance your data today, it probably will be one, three, or even five years down the line. Implementing a flexible end-to-end video surveillance solution prepares you for this possibility. With new advances in technology, the quantity of data captured by video surveillance systems will continue rising throughout the coming decade. As such, continuing to rely on traditional systems like NVRs will fast become unsustainable for businesses. Looking forward, when moving to an end-to-end video surveillance architecture, security pioneers should make sure to evaluate options from different vendors. For true futureproofing, it’s a good idea to opt for a flexible, modular solution, which allow different elements to be upgraded to more advanced technologies when they become available.

How can the security industry provide affordable and cost-effective solutions?
How can the security industry provide affordable and cost-effective solutions?

Cost is a reality to be managed. No matter how powerful or desirable a technology may be to a customer, the sale often comes down to the basic question: Can I afford it? And affordability extends not just to the purchase price, but to the cost of technology over its lifespan. In addition to advances in technology capabilities, the security industry has also achieved inroads to make its offerings more worth the cost. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the physical security industry doing to make more affordable and cost-effective technology solutions for end users?