What do you think about using your mobile phone as access credential? These days, a smartphone is more than just a phone - it’s a mobile office, an organizer, a music and movie player, a digital notepad, game console, camera , even a virtual wallet and much much more. You could say it’s the swiss knife of gadgets.
Who would have thought that mobile technology would transform our lives in the way that it has already done from just 20 years ago?
And now it’s being used as an access control credential. If you think about it, it makes sense. The mobile phone has become almost an extension of our arms and you are very unlikely to forget it at home or leave it at your desk, unlike an access fob or smart card.
Mobile Phone As Access Credential - How it Works
A mobile phone credential operates much like the usual smart access card. It uses Near Frequency Communication (NFC) and/or Bluetooth technology to communicate with the reader to verify and authorize a credential.
However, unlike the typical smart card reader, it is the smart phone that tells the reader what information to look for. If the information checks out, access is granted. An app is used to receive information through a cloud based server.
Bluetooth Versus NFC readers? What’s the difference?
Bluetooth readers have a wider read range. They can work up to 30 feet away and you can use your smartphone to gain access to areas like car parking lot entrances or garage doors without the need to even take your phone out from your pocket or purse.
NFC on the other hand works from just a few inches away. This necessitates taking out your phone from your pocket or bag to gain access. For some, this works better than with bluetooth readers when a long range may not be recommended for security purposes. This is the better option for schools or universities, hospitals and even work places, as examples.
Why Make the Change?
As already mentioned above, it’s already always with you and you’re less likely to leave your phone behind at home or on your desk at work. Plus, there’s no more fumbling for your smart card or punching in a code whenever you need to gain access.
Because everyone has a smart phone and access information is already carried on it, companies, schools and any other commercial establishments no longer have to deal with the costly process of issuing individual cards to each and every user.
Smart phones can be protected with a PIN. In case of loss, the finder will not be able to access the contents of the phone, nor use it to gain access. Misplaced phones can easily be taken offline to prevent anyone else using the credential.
And because a phone is such a personal thing, you are less likely to let anyone borrow it to possible allow someone else access.
Advantages Over Other Systems
While the system you ultimately use for your building or facility is still dependent on your needs and budget, and a smart phone system may or may not be for you, here are just a few of the advantages of using a mobile phone as access credential over the existing systems available:
Keypad systems are fairly inexpensive access control options. However, security might be less than with smartphone access because PIN’s can easily be shared. Further, if an employee leaves, if the pin is universal, then all keypads need to be reprogrammed with a new pin. And there are those who don’t like touching a key pad that others have touched.
Compared to keypads, proximity reader systems offer a much higher level of security. To date, this is still the most widely used option. And though lost cards do not present a security risk because they can easily be deactivated, the cost of replacing lost cards adds up over time.
Because human characteristics cannot be duplicated, biometric readers offer the the higher level of security. However, biometric readers can still be more expensive than other options.