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Should We Be Aiming for Frictionless Access Control?

Author: John Davies

Should We Be Aiming for Frictionless Access Control?

The idea of ‘Frictionless Access Control’ is not a new one, but in the wake of the COVID pandemic we are all more aware of the need for security systems that operate and rapidly adapt to changing needs, without causing users unnecessary inconvenience. The key issue, and indeed balancing act, with this approach is always ensuring security continues to actually be ‘secure’, whilst also making life easier for the authorised people that rely on it as part of their daily routine. 

So, have we reached true Frictionless Access Control yet? We need to start by understanding what the concept actually means.

What is Frictionless Access Control?

Frictionless Access Control refers to a set of technologies and systems designed to provide secure access to physical spaces (such as buildings, offices, or restricted areas) with minimal or no inconvenience to authorised individuals. The goal is to streamline and simplify the process of gaining access while maintaining a high level of security.

What powers Frictionless Access Control?

The obvious answer is technology advancements. Over the last decade or so there have been significant advancements in access control technologies, including biometrics (such as fingerprint and facial recognition), contactless card systems (like RFID or NFC), and smartphone-based access control credentials (such as Apple Wallet, Google Wallet, and the introduction of Ultra-Wide Band – UWB – for highly effective short-range communications). These technologies aim to reduce the friction associated with traditional access methods like keys or PINs.

Implementation is of course another key factor. The effectiveness of Frictionless Access Control depends on how well it is implemented, be that the close integration of hardware and software, user training, and security protocols, all of which play a crucial role in achieving seamless and secure access control.

Sector driven demands are also an important element in driving Frictionless Access Control. For example, the Proptech (property technology) sector uses technology to optimise the way people buy, sell, research, market, and manage a property. This includes looking for ways to deliver a better user experience by improving how people interact with the built environment, so effortless access control  technology is very well placed to help with this.

Making it work

As we have already discussed, security versus convenience is the crucial question here. There is often a trade-off between security and convenience and achieving higher levels of security may require additional authentication steps or slower access processes, which can introduce some friction. Striking the right balance between security and convenience is essential.

This of course depends on the type of security deployment and the value/vulnerability of the people and property it protects. For example, Frictionless Access Control may work well in certain situations such as corporate environments, where users are familiar with the technology and the access points are well-maintained. However, it may face challenges in more complex or high-security settings such as financial institutions, military installations, or sites with vulnerable people (such as schools and colleges).

Potential stumbling blocks

Careful consideration needs to be paid to how using a frictionless approach could compromise security. For example, biometric technologies used in Frictionless Access Control can raise concerns about privacy and data security (there are many ethical debates over the collection and storage of such personal data). Ensuring that user data is protected and used responsibly is critical and will always need to take precedence over user convenience.

Cost is another key consideration. Implementing Frictionless Access Control systems can be expensive, particularly if it involves the deployment of advanced high security biometric or contactless technologies. Organisations need to weigh the cost against the benefits and available budget. The convenience of employees will not always be the prime concern!

Is Frictionless Access Control achievable?

The short answer is yes, absolutely! In fact, although it was accelerated by the desire for ‘non-touch’ solutions thanks to COVID, Frictionless Access Control was already a reality well before the pandemic and is quickly transforming the way we, as users, interact with our Access Control Systems. The rapid development and integration of advanced technologies such as Facial Recognition and Smart or Mobile credentials, with traditional access methods, are evolving into seamless, touchless experiences.

Although these advanced technologies are often more secure than the traditional card or fob-based credentials, true frictionless access is only as good as the speed and accuracy with which the technology can function – which in the past has often been a limiting factor to its mass adoption.

Any organisation considering whether Frictionless Access Control is right for it needs to carefully assess its needs, risks, and resources when considering the adoption of these systems and must ensure that they are deployed and managed with a focus on both security and user experience.

At TDSi we provide everything you need to implement the right type and level of Frictionless Access Control for your needs – why not contact us on +44 (0) 1202 723535 or by emailing sales@tdsi.co.uk to see how we can help you!

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