Designing for Biometric Access Control

30 Jan Designing for Biometric Access Control

Shaun Oakes, Managing Director of ievo Ltd, talks to Sue Benson of Architects Datafile about how developments in biometrics have revolutionised access control in buildings.

Architects and designers of commercial buildings have a myriad of factors to consider irrespective of the original sector for which the project is destined, just as their clients must carefully consider their own priorities in the brief. Fortunately, the most successful projects demonstrate the empathy between the two parties, whether this be in internal layout, sustainability, budget or external appearance, but one factor crucial to clients, but often given less priority by designers, is the increasingly important question of access control security.

To invest hard-earned capital in structures without considering the building’s security is clearly ignoring a vital factor in the economic viability of its construction, especially considering the increased threats our built infrastructure is facing from theft, fraud, terrorism and a variety of other sources, therefore security integration needs to be considered from an early planning stage.

Traditional methods of daytime access control have varied from directly or indirectly employed personnel to swipe cards or numeric keypads backed up by CCTV.  Modern Biometric Access Control, however, is one of the fastest growing sectors within the security industry, with market research indicating that the sector will build phenomenal growth over the next five years in the face of increased security concerns and as commercial enterprises adapt to biometric technology and the benefits of advanced access control systems.

It, therefore, follows that those architects and designers who can demonstrate a knowledge of, and familiarity with, the new technology will enjoy a distinct advantage over those for whom access control is deemed of minor consequence.

The technology offers considerable advantages over the traditional swipe card/fob or numeric keypad in that while swipe cards and fobs can be lost or stolen and numeric codes are easily passed on, fingerprints are unique to the individual. Our own ievo ultimate flagship product utilises advanced multispectral imaging (MSI) sensor 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 integral thermal management systems allowing them to operate in conditions from -20˚C and up to 70˚C and, being IP65 rated, they also function in levels of heavy rain or dust/sand environments.

Biometric fingerprint readers rapidly pay for themselves and have a far lower lifetime cost as they require no additional consumables, such as additional cards, nor do they have to be re-programmed, as in the case of numeric keypads in the event of any hard reset, power outage or spike. Additionally, and probably of more importance to end customers, biometric recognition systems provide an infallible access control system that can be integrated with a number of hardware and software systems reducing the need for multiple systems and installations, which can prove costly to both time and resources.

Biometric fingerprint readers integrate with most well-known access control systems and are designed to operate (via the access control system) with a variety of entry point hardware, such as turnstiles, barriers, doors etc. This integration of hardware and software allows for a deeper level of system security and control, with the resulting data not only reliable and secure, but also able to be used to provide both multi-level access systems, with different personnel granted access to different areas of a building, and infallible Time and Attendance data for use by H&S and payroll departments.

There are countless examples of successful applications but typical locations include large building sites accessed by both contractors and sub-contractors, sports and leisure facilities to control member only entry and free staff for other duties, offices, food, drink and other process factories where unauthorised entry could prove catastrophic to product safety, transport and logistic hubs such as airports and ports where security for critical areas such airside loading is vital to combat terrorist threats, call centres and other structures housing 24 operations where the Time & Attendance data is an added benefit to the enhanced staff security, and, finally, hospitals and care homes where patient and resident security is of paramount importance and which often require multi-level access.

The list is by no means exhausted but hopefully gives a taste of where the new technology is being successfully utilised by not only security experts but also architects and M&E engineers who have realised the benefits of including modern access control technology into the initial design.

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