Smart buildings need smart security systems

November 2007 Access Control & Identity Management

Simplicity and comfort are the main objectives of smart buildings, which provide occupants with quality of life through automation and improved security.

Smart buildings function through high levels of electronic microprocessor-based control systems that operate a wide range of services such as lighting, heating, ventilating and airconditioning (HVAC), power, vertical transportation, fire and life safety and most importantly, security. Traditionally, these systems have been an integral function of most buildings, however only recently have these individual systems become increasingly more intelligent and can now also be integrated to share information and communicate between themselves. It is when this high level of integration occurs, that you have a 'smart building'.

In the commercial sector, pressure on property developers to build smart buildings is growing exponentially. The key driver behind this demand is the security and convenience that smart buildings offer residents of high-technology establishments. In South Africa, the advantages that smart buildings provide for increased safety and security give these properties the competitive edge over 'traditional' developments.

One of the major focuses in the development of smart buildings is a fully integrated security system that caters for complete physical access control in and around the individual property.

Requirements for security systems in smart buildings include simplicity, high-level security, accuracy, ease-of-use and speed. Of all the available technologies, biometrics is being considered as the only real alternative for truly smart security. Of the biometric options available, fingerprint-based identification offers unrivalled cost-effectiveness, accuracy and ease-of-use. Leading property developers are turning to fingerprint identification to control access onto large residential properties and commercial office parks.

An example of how biometric fingerprint technology is being used to provide integrated security is at the new and exclusive Emperor Apartments building in Sandton which integrates readers to provide secure access to the building as well as individual apartments. Residents at Emperor Apartments are required to register their fingerprints on the system, which controls access to the building, the lifts as well as the individual apartments. The first point of identification is one of the six lifts that go up to the apartments. Once in a lift the resident places his/her finger on the fingerprint reader, which activates the lift. The 'smart building' controls the lift and will only allow that resident access to the floor on which they are authorised to access. Access to the basement and car park is also controlled in this manner. Biometrics also enables the controlled access of domestic workers and garden staff, without having to provide them with keys to the property.

New developments in biometric identity management are extending the boundaries of smart building access control. For example, there is technology available that is aimed at replacing the tired method of the visitor's book. Instead of the usual parade of Nelson Mandela's and Harry Potter's that seem to regularly visit business premises (if you believe the visitors book), the true identity of a visitor is captured by a terminal - the ID number and a fingerprint. The details are verified immediately and the system can be integrated with appointment systems and parking allocation. The solution has been developed from a big loophole in how traditional systems deal with visitors. EVIM closes this loophole by running an automated identity check on the visitor and capturing a fingerprint signature.

Having your identity confirmed and the details registered electronically is not an attractive prospect for the criminally minded. Property developers can employ advanced systems such as this to effectively manage visitor access to these smart buildings.

Indeed, the application of biometrics to secure smart buildings is virtually limitless and the growth of fingerprint technology to manage access is a direct result of the technology's proven results in the field. Fingerprint biometrics is definitely paving the way as the solution is a cutting-edge security system for smart buildings.




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