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Involve users in design
November 2017, Access Control & Identity Management

One of the biggest obstacles to the successful operation of an access control system is the end user not being involved in the design of the solution. This is especially significant given the current trend towards adopting an IoT (Internet of Things) approach to technology deployment.

Ingo Mutinelli.
Ingo Mutinelli.

“It’s all very well being able to go online for ease of use across a platform that integrates solutions, but without the know-how to leverage all the features of the technology and to use it correctly, it will quickly become a liability rather than an asset,” says Ingo Mutinelli, business development director at Elvey. “After commissioning the system, the installer leaves site and the end user is then faced with actually implementing the access control system. Increasing frustration by end users when trying to use access control systems may result in the system being deferred.”

The first step in the process is naturally a risk assessment and this should be a collaborative effort between the installer/integrator and the end user. Subsequently, the end user, for example, security manager, estate manager or facility manager, needs to set up authority rights to ensure that the correct people are using the system and that the right technology is being used in the right places.

“If you want to use a T&A (time & attendance) system to increase efficiencies and reduce time ‘stolen’ by employees, then it is important for the end user to consider the main entry and exit points, the areas of congregation, the high-risk areas, and the areas where easy access is necessary to improve ­traffic flow. It is important that, when attempting to mitigate security risk, one does not implement a system that aggravates bottlenecks in specific high-traffic areas. This will simply lead to employee frustration and furthermore could have serious health and safety implications in the event of emergencies and evacuation procedures,” says Mutinelli.

Most installers will impress on the end user that they need to implement certain changes in their daily lives to accommodate the new access control system. Resistance may be found when end users realise that the system, because it is geared around either increasing security or providing a T&A service, will no doubt result in stricter control around entry and exit points.

End users are often suspicious around technology adoption, regarding it as invasive and a hindrance. A mindset and behavioural change is therefore required to ensure that the system is used to its full potential. The system user needs to be comfortable with using the system and this can be ensured through thorough training on the use of the system, by both the employees and the people responsible for the enrolment process.

“On this note, while in many business environments the human resources department may be the obvious choice for capturing personnel fingerprints, I strongly advise that the enrolment process be undertaken in conjunction with guidance from either the company’s technical team or security division. Successfully capturing the employee’s fingerprint credentials becomes an exercise in bridging that gap of disconnect,” says Mutinelli.

Hand-in-glove with this is the importance of deploying a system that is fit for purpose. Mutinelli cites an office environment where access using biometric fingerprint readers and RFID cards is generally quite straightforward. However, if one considers an industrial environment where employees often have dirty hands or there is lots of dust present, then one needs to use suitable solutions that can overcome the issues experienced with the higher rejection rates typically experienced here.

Mutinelli advises that regardless of why an end user is using access control technology, they must prioritise selecting tried and tested biometrics brands which are developed to suit specific environments. An example here would be the ruggedised units designed to withstand arduous conditions on construction and mining sites. In addition, all solutions should be configured and customised to the end user’s needs, taking into consideration how people move through the building, relative to those areas where technology is required to protect high security areas.”

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Further reading:

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