Biometrics Offer Facility Managers More Than Just Access Control

19 Apr Biometrics Offer Facility Managers More Than Just Access Control

The security of buildings, facilities, staff and data is rapidly becoming a priority for Building and Facility Managers. Fortunately, the rise of biometric technology is giving them an additional tool to enable not only highly secure multi-level access control but also, by integrating time and attendance software, invaluable data for Health & Safety, payroll and other HR requirements.

Shaun Oakes, Managing Director of ievo Ltd, the Newcastle-based manufacturer of biometric recognition systems, explains how modern fingerprint scanners prove a highly cost-effective and superior alternative to traditional access control methods.

Key fobs, swipe cards or even the old style punch cards are all open to abuse with users sharing access which can produce completely false data. Numeric codes can be forgotten causing costly reprogramming, cards and fobs can be swopped or lost whilst even professional security staff are not infallible, resulting in possible security breaches.

Yet, modern biometric access control, linked to time & attendance software, provides a highly cost-effective alternative. Fingerprints are unique to the person and cannot be forged. Our own CPNI-approved ievo ultimate™ uses an advanced sensor which employs multispectral imaging (MSI) technology to scan and capture data. MSI uses multiple light sources to read not only the surface of the skin, but also data points from the subsurface level (up to 4mm deep) of a finger. The different light sources can penetrate levels of moisture and debris present on the skin to read data points below. This advanced method allows for a high number of uniquely identifiable data points to be recognised and used for a more accurate, reliable and efficient verification process.

The readers are also designed for both external and internal use and are equipped with an internal thermostat controlled heater allowing them to operate in conditions as low as -20˚C and, being IP65 rated, they also function in adverse weather conditions.

The readers can be installed to work with a variety of access points such as turnstiles, barriers, doors etc. and integrate into existing access control systems from well-known manufacturers such as Paxton, PAC, Honeywell and Nortech, with more integration options constantly being released. The access systems can be customised with a variety of options depending on requirements to provide a deeper level of security using biometric data. Facility managers and tenants can be sure that only those with permissions will be able to access specific areas without the additional cost of dedicated access control staff.

The result is a highly secure recognition system unaffected by lost or stolen fobs or swipe cards and one that cannot be deceived by the entry of fraudulent PIN’s into numeric keypads, coupled with a data acquisition system that supplies real-time reliable information for payroll, flexi-time, absenteeism control and holiday planning. Just as importantly, this flexible integration eliminates the need for multiple systems and installations, which can prove costly to both time and resources, and can be adapted or upgraded as businesses or properties grow and develop.

Commercial premises hosting large workforces, such as call centres, provide a good example of the effectiveness of biometric technology for access control. They provide not only security for the personnel and the facility but also the time & attendance data for payroll and other HR functions. In addition, the data is instantly available to emergency services in case of an emergency evacuation and complies with many modern insurance provisions, thus potentially reducing premiums.

Biometric access control is particularly important in cases of multiple occupancy facilities where certain areas may be occupied on a continuous 24/7 basis but other offices may only work to a standard working week and need reassurance that their premises will be secure from other users who have access to the building. Integrated biometric systems allow multi-level access producing infallible data as to exactly who was in what part of a facility and at what time – priceless date for any security system which also gives the workforce themselves assurance of the security they require.

A typical installation for ourselves was for the Referral Management Centre of Newcastle-based Connect Health Ltd, an 18,000 sq. ft. facility which includes a large call centre, open to staff who work different hours across a 12 hour day, in a multi-occupancy four-storey complex. Connect required a failsafe security system to both ensure staff safety and comply with fire regulations which require an accurate count of personnel on the premises.

Andrew Walton, Executive Chair of Connect, explained, “We now deal with over 250,000 referrals per year and treat some 3 million people annually. The growth of the company required the move last year into the new centre where the different teams of Patient Care Advisors and support staff tended to work different hours. Without ‘line of sight’ into all areas, it would have been impossible to ensure the building was cleared in case of fire, and we looked very carefully at available systems which, included numeric pads, key fobs and swipe cards. Each of these, however, came with inherent problems of being able to be bypassed whilst a biometric fingerprint reader would present an ideal solution due to having no reliance on secondary credentials. The ievo readers were particularly impressive and very easy to integrate into our security system – they were also manufactured locally!”

“We’ve been delighted with their performance since installation and the whole process has exceeded our expectations. With access to sensitive patient data, we are also shortly seeking accreditation to ISO 27001 for our Information Security Management System (ISMS) and the integration of the ievo fingerprint readers gives us a good start in demonstrating the importance we place on our data security.”

With data security now becoming so important to all organisations, ISO 27001 accreditation not only helps businesses manage the security of their data but will also advertise this expertise to existing and potential clients. The standard looks at a number of core sections, which include IT systems, business processes and, most importantly, people, as an integral part of the accreditation process (Section A.11) deals with access control, looking at key areas such as user access management, user registration and password management and here the use of biometric security systems with fingerprint recognition readers enables organisations to comply with the Standard’s requirements and add another layer of safety to the businesses access controls. Visitor movements can be accurately monitored in real time with access to certain areas within a site strictly controlled and recorded allowing the organisation sophisticated levels of personnel movement information and accountability.

Biometric recognition systems are also becoming the favoured choice in transport and logistic hubs where goods are being moved in and out of secure areas by recognised personnel only. For such facilities or any critical infrastructure, it is obviously vital that in an era of increased security threats, identity credentials can’t be shared or stolen as can happen with cards, key fobs and numeric PINs.

Sports and leisure facilities are also benefitting from the new technology. Not only do biometric systems free staff for more productive tasks – especially in leisure clubs and gyms etc – but the resultant information produces invaluable data for management as to customer attendance to enable them to plan future provision.

Sporting and event arenas are also increasingly using the technology for their own staff some of whom may well themselves be then employed in security positions to ensure the safety of the audience.

Biometric access control is the technology of first choice for facility managers for not only the security of their buildings or facilities but also the organisations based there and the staff that those organisations employ.

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