Back in the 1960s a lead engineer working in conjunction with the United States Navy for Lockheed’s Skunk Works team coined the acronym KISS, which translated to the design principle ‘keep it simple stupid’. 

The KISS principle embraces the concept of simplicity, stating that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than geared up to be more complicated. When it comes to physical security systems, this concept can also play a key element in its overall success.

Secure work environments

For years the tug of war in the security industry has pitted the need for a secure environment against the desire for technology that is convenient for users. However, finding a happy medium between the two has often seemed elusive.

I believe you can design and have operational convenience at the same time as achieving high security"

Jeff Spivey, a security consultant and the CEO of Security Risk Management, has this to say about it, “If there is an understanding of the security-related risks and their separate and/or collective impact on the organisation’s bottom line business goals, a resolution can be reached.” Jeff also does not think that convenience and high security have to be opposing each other. He says, “I believe you can design and have operational convenience at the same time as achieving high security.

Importance of secure access control

The premise is that for organisations and spaces to be truly secure, they must be difficult to access. So, by its very nature, access control is designed to be restrictive, allowing only authorised staff and visitors to access a facility or other secured areas inside. This immediately puts convenience at odds with security.

Most people will tolerate the restrictive nature of a controlled entrance using badge, card or biometric because they understand the need for security. When that technology gets in the way of staff traversing freely throughout the facility during the course of a business day, or hindering potential visitors or vendors from a positive experience entering the building, they become less tolerant, which often leads to negative feedback to the security staff.

Enhancing corporate security

Security consultants like Spivey and security directors all stress that understanding the threats and risk levels of an organisation will most likely dictate its physical security infrastructure and approach. All the technology in the world is useless if it is not embraced by those who are expected to use it and it doesn’t fit the culture of the organisation.

Once employees and customers are educated about what security really is, they understand that they're not losing convenience, they're gaining freedom to move safely from point A to point B.

Converged data and information shape new access options

Migration of physical access control systems to a more network-centric platform is a game-changer for security technologies

The migration of physical access control systems to a more network-centric platform has been a game-changer for emerging security technology options. The expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), Near-Field Communication devices powered by Bluetooth technology, and the explosion of converged information systems and identity management tools that are now driving access control are making it easier than ever before for employees and visitors to apply for clearance, permissions and credentials.

Wireless and proximity readers

Advancements in high-performance wireless and proximity readers have enhanced the user’s access experience when presenting credentials at an entry and expediting movement throughout a facility.

A user is now able to access a secured office from street-level without ever touching a key or card. Using a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or triggering a facial recognition technology, they enter the building through a security revolving door or turnstile. A total building automation approach adds extra convenience, as well as seamless security, when access technology is integrated into other systems like elevator controls.

Advancements in high-performance wireless and proximity readers have enhanced the user’s access experience.
A total building automation approach adds extra convenience and seamless security

How to Meet Security Concerns at the Entry

While security managers are charged with providing their facilities the maximum level of security possible, there is always the human element to consider. But does the effort to make people comfortable with their security system ecosystem come at a cost?

Does all this convenience and the drive to deliver a positive security experience reduce an organisation’s overall levels of security? And if so, how can we continue to deliver the same positive experience including speed of entry – while improving risk mitigation and threat prevention?

Door entrances, barriers

Users can slip through the door or turnstile barriers while they are still open after a credentialed individual has gone through

Let’s examine some of the various types of entrances being used at most facilities and the security properties of each. With some entrance types, there is the possibility for security to fall short of its intended goals in a way that can’t be addressed by access control technology alone. In particular, with many types of doors and barriers, tailgating is possible: users can slip through the door or turnstile barriers while they are still open after a credentialed individual has gone through.

To address this, many organisations hire security officers to supervise the entry. While this can help to reduce tailgating, it has been demonstrated that officers are not immune to social engineering and can often be “talked into” letting an unauthorised person into a facility.

Deploying video cameras, sensors

Some organisations have deployed video surveillance cameras or sensors to help identify tailgaters after the fact or a door left open for longer than rules allow. This approach is not uncommon where facilities have attempted to optimise throughput and maintain a positive experience for staff and visitors.

Security staff monitoring the video feeds can alert management so that action can be taken – but this is at best a reactive solution. It does not keep the unauthorised persons from entering, and so is not a totally secure solution.

Optical turnstiles, speedgates

Security staff should carefully evaluate its facility’s needs and consider the technology that is built into the door itself

Security staff should carefully evaluate its facility’s needs and consider the technology that is built into the door itself. Not all security entrances work the same way. And, there will always be a balance between security and convenience – the more secure the entry, the less convenient it is for your personnel and visitors to enter your facility.

For example, it takes more time to provide 2-factor authentication and enter through a mantrap portal than to provide only one credential and enter through an optical turnstile or speedgate.

Perimeter protection

So, it is an important first step to determine what is right at every entrance point within and around the perimeter. Remember that convenience does not equate to throughput. Convenience is the ease and speed of entry experienced by each individual crossing that threshold, while throughput relates to the speed at which many individuals can gain access to the facility.

A more convenient entry makes a better first impression on visitors and is good for overall employee morale. Throughput is more functional; employees need to get logged in to begin their workday (and often to clock in to get paid), and they quickly become frustrated and dissatisfied when waiting in a long line to enter or exit the premises. Considering form and function when designing a security entrance can ensure that those requiring both high-security and convenience are appeased.

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Greg Schreiber Vice President of Sales, Boon Edam

Greg Schreiber has been the Vice President of Sales of Boon Edam Inc. since 2013 and has been with the company a total of 15 years.

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