The access and identity market is one of those industries that seems to keep chugging along no matter what. The fact is that controlling access, whether it is to an office, a stadium or campus is a necessity. Even upmarket homes these days are digitalising and implementing what used to be enterprise-level access control technologies to not only control who gets in, but many other aspects of a smart home.
The pandemic that defined 2020 was, however, a great time for the access market as it boosted the adoption of new technologies to address issues such as touchless access as well as COVID-19 screening. It also made many companies take a second look at Access Control-as-a-Service (ACaaS) as this model avoids large layouts of money in favour of regular capital expenditure. Needless to say, COVID-19 also gave the already growing facial recognition market an enormous boost.
When combining the pandemic, advancing technology and the need for improved access and identity management in organisations both public and private, what trends should we expect to see in the coming year?
Access more important
Nexkey is a company in the cloud and mobile access control technology space. The company released a survey it conducted, the ‘2020 Access Control Trends Review’, in which it highlights the increased importance of security for businesses after COVID-19, as well as a drive to adopt new access control technologies using mobile and cloud-based solutions.
Some of the findings from the survey highlight the ‘low-tech’ approach many still have to access control. For example, 41% of office workers surveyed use key cards to enter their office, however, the same amount of people said smartphones or smartwatches would be their first credential of choice.
Three out of four people use keys, key cards or fobs, while 41% had these keys, key cards, and fobs lost or stolen, while 34% let someone borrow them. (The company notes that people are less likely to lose or borrow their phones, or if lost or stolen, the devices are most likely protected with a PIN or some form of access control.)
A report published by HID Global, ‘The 2020 State Of Physical Access Control Report’, adds to the findings above, noting that another reason for the renewed interest in access control is that most companies are using ageing technology. From the report: “We hear from security professionals that even though parts of their organisation’s access control infrastructure are several product generations out-of-date, upgrading to a robust modern standard wasn’t a corporate priority,” said Luc Merredew, product marketing director, Physical Access Control, Americas at HID Global. “However with recent highly publicised IT compromises linked to physical access, they aren’t waiting any longer.”
Another limitation of older technology is that more organisations want to integrate their access into other solutions, which tend to be more up to date, making it challenging if your access equipment is years old. In this regard, physical access control departments are looking for closer cooperation with their IT departments.
Business intelligence analytics loom large
Part of the move to integration and closer IT cooperation is the drive (as in almost every industry) to make better use of the organisation’s data. In the physical access space we have seen this in areas such as time and attendance (T&A) as well as workforce management in the past, but companies are increasingly wanting more, and in some instances they want to know what is happening in real time.
One area that is evolving, according to the HID Global report, is real-time location services (RTLS). “Knowing the number and locations of all people in a facility during an emergency can be invaluable for safeguarding people and property. … RTLS complements access control technology and provides data that optimises space utilisation, protects restricted areas, provides visitor and asset location awareness, and can inform use of HVAC and lighting, all of which creates a more efficient and secure workplace.”
The hype around artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are part of the drive to making better use of and extracting more value from data. While the surveillance industry has the edge in talking about AI in the physical security space, we should expect more developments in this area in the access and identity management world in the coming years. Needless to say, the Internet of Things (IoT) is simply adding to the amount of data that can be collected and analysed to deliver more effective business intelligence.
Along with this, we can expect more confusion and anger around the issue of privacy, which has been and is being exacerbated by the growth of facial recognition systems. How valid privacy concerns are and how much attention organisations and governments will place on the issue remains to be seen.
The cloud is it
ACaaS is becoming more accepted as it proves its worth in access control solutions around the world as well as proving its cost effectiveness. In an IFSEC Global report titled ‘Physical security trends for 2020’, the author notes that “companies that do not have the budget to invest in costly customised applications have to rely on untraceable processes that involve a lot of human interactions to grant and then revoke access to their secured spaces and facilities. Keeping track of access on an individual basis demands a great deal of time and energy from security operators, personnel, and visitors.
“Fortunately, in 2020, the proliferation of out-of-the-box solutions will result in more small and mid-sized organisations moving to cloud-based identity management systems that they can implement easily … They can also ensure that only those individuals who have the right to access a secured area can do so by managing and automating the process.”
The value of mobile credentials
As mentioned above, mobile credentials are also expected to make their presence felt in the coming year. The reasons for this are varied, but they allow organisations to integrate card-based access systems with ‘touchless’ mobile credentials, allow for the easy addition and removal of access privileges, and, of course, users take better care of their mobile devices than they do a card.
IHS Markit states that mobile growth has been rapid, projecting that annual downloads of mobile credentials will reach over 20 million in 2020 and over 120 million by 2023. The same article notes that the areas where mobile credentials will be used will not threaten older technologies but will supplement them in the near future. In general, mobile solutions are being used for new access requirements rather than replacing older systems – so far.
This is supported in another report from IFSEC Global, in cooperation with HID Global, ‘The State of Physical Access Control in EMEA Businesses: 2020’.
The report states: “More than half (52%) of end users believe that mobile access or applications will be one of the top trends to shape the future of access control – this was, in fact, the most common answer given. 46% of respondents placed mobile access in their top three features they would require in a new system, while 28% of respondents stated that they were either in the process of upgrading to mobile technology, or already have. Even those who have yet to upgrade recognised the need for mobile-enabled readers.”
One of the worries about mobile credentials is cybersecurity, although it would be unwise to limit the cyber threats to the access and identity market only to mobile risks. The mere fact that organisations are collecting more and more data about people and things means the cybercriminal element will be paying close attention, creating risks whether the data is on a mobile device, a server or in the cloud.
And of course, the biometrics market in general will be a star in future as well. There is no slowing the growth of biometrics. MarketsandMarkets expects the biometric system market to grow from $36,6 billion in 2020 to $68,6 billion by 2025, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13,4%. The report notes that deployment costs are still high and this could delay rollouts in some cases. And, once again, the issue of hygiene when using touch-based biometrics is always an issue for the end users.
It’s therefore clear that the access and identity market is going to continue its growth path, no doubt boosted by current events and the increasing threat of crime. The Access & Identity Management Handbook 2021 will address the issues mentioned above, and more in the pages to come.
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