As employers consider a return to the physical workplace, they must adapt to new requirements, implement new procedures, and leverage technology to alleviate their employees’ concerns related to public health in response to COVID-19.

Access control plays a critical role in creating a safe back-to-work strategy. With the help of Convergint and HID, organizations can leverage touchless physical access technologies, including mobile credentials along with location services, to provide employers with an experience that supports a healthy and safe work environment.

Location Services

Key to keeping people physically distanced is knowing where they are at any given time. Much how GPS is used in outdoor settings, location services leverage BLE beacons to ping off gateways that in turn can identify the location of individuals in a physical space. An individual’s identity can be based on an ID card which broadcasts continually, creating a virtual map of location relative to the fixed gateways. 

The same system can be used to make space utilization more efficient. Connected  beacons could broadcast room occupancy, letting people know which spaces are free and which are in use.

There is also significant forensic value in this capability. Should an individual test positive for COVID, contact tracing can be automated via location services.

Location services can also support monitoring usage of hand sanitizing stations by embedding a BLE sensor in a soap or sanitizer dispenser. With hand-hygiene being a key way to prevent the spread of infection, enforcing consistent usage is vital to a safe workplace.

Over-the-Air Credentialing

Most credentialing processes rely on a high degree of human-to-human interaction: someone in IT or the card office prepares the card, then passes it to HR or the front desk for delivery to the user. Whether it is an employee or visitor, the credentialing process is typically a high-touch operation. Modernized systems enable digital  credentialing solutions, so credentials can be issued and remotely managed without a high degree of in-person contact.

Mobile Access

Mobile access likewise reduces the need for employees to physically touch cards and communal readers. “The phone is something that belongs solely to the individual. If you only have to touch your own mobile device, then you’re pretty safe. You don’t need to touch anything else,” said Henrik Hjelte, HID solution manager, mobile access.

Organizations that rely on keypads or two-factor authentication may find mobile credentials and mobile capable readers to be a more hygienic alternative. The user unlocks the phone, then uses the phone to unlock the door, thus delivering two-factor security without the need to touch a shared keypad.

In the same way, mobile also allows for a biometric layer to be added to the access experience. “You can configure the mobile credential to only work when the device is unlocked, thereby requiring the owner to authenticate using their enrolled biometric, whether fingerprint or facial recognition,” Hjelte said. “That mitiates the risk of a lost, stolen, or shared mobile device from being used. And by leveraging the technology on the mobile device instead of at the door, you’re only touching your own device, and not a touchpoint that is shared with every other occupant.”

Touchless credentials, including mobile-based, shouldn’t be limited to opening doors. Organizations may also find that touchless credentials support more hygienic protocols for logging in to networks for vending, or activating printing.

Best Practices for PACS Technology

Implementing and overseeing physical access control technologies for a safer workplace can be a challenging task. While the technology plays a significant role in supporting social distancing and other efforts, policies are at the core of a successful return-to-work effort. Having solid audit systems in place is key. PACS systems generate logs, reports, and archives. Building managers must leverage this key data in order to build a full picture of the operational risks.

For more information on how HID’s physical access control solutions can be implemented to help your organization maintain compliance with safety mandates related to COVID-19, contact a Convergint access control expert today.

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