Technology, people on the move

February 2011 Access Control & Identity Management

Access control and regulation of resources are cornerstones of modern commercial security strategies and are driving growth within ICT infrastructure solution development and implementation. Experts in the field of biometric-based security systems believe that knowing the movements of people within the company or business is, especially from a security perspective, of paramount importance to decision makers.

Marius Coetzee, COO, Ideco Biometric Security Solutions (IBSS), says that biometric infrastructure is being used daily by millions of South Africans for fast, accurate and secure access in the workplace. Part of the reason for this is because of the practical value that biometric technology offers and the strength it has in comparison with alternatives such as cards, PINs and/or passwords, says Coetzee.

Marius Coetzee, COO, Ideco Biometric Security Solutions
Marius Coetzee, COO, Ideco Biometric Security Solutions

“The monitoring of people’s movements and their access to areas has become increasingly sophisticated in the past few years through the use of fingerprint biometric identification systems. Unfortunately, the traditional alternatives are just not secure enough methods of access control as they can be lost, stolen or forgotten. With a competent, robust biometric system based on fingerprints, you simply cannot cheat the system.

“Fingerprint readers are relatively non-disruptive to employees once implemented, because unlike systems such as iris scanning machines, fingerprint biometric systems are practical, fast and accurate.”

While much of the general focus of the industry has been on control of access to and from buildings and places of work, there is a general shift in mindset and now more emphasis on people’s movement and whereabouts within an organisation. Coetzee agrees that access control is not only necessary for an organisation’s employees, visitor management (knowing exactly who is entering the premises, and when) is just as important.

“In addition to employers knowing who is where at any given point, access to specific pre-determined areas can also be controlled. For example, in the interest of protecting a company’s intellectual property, only the IT staff may be allowed into the server room, so only the fingerprints of users registered for that area will grant access,” says Coetzee.

The evolution of security technology and application means that would-be investors in security systems and access control technology are spoilt for choice in terms of available infrastructure. IBSS advises consumers to consider what, precisely, is required for the business and whether this solution can grow with the organisation. Other questions such as whether the solution can be integrated into existing infrastructure or not and whether there is local support for the products and/or solution, are all relevant.

“Competent access systems will have a facility to enrol visitors and then control their access rights within the premises. However, do companies know who these visitors are, can they be positively identified? At best, the old-fashioned visitors’ book lacks any of the rigorous, systematic structures that are built into managing employee access. At worst, it will allow armed visitors to walk among you at your place of work. However, by far the most widespread method of managing visitor access has no link into the employee access system but is rather via a standalone, paper-based ­register, and these are inherently insecure,” Coetzee continues.

According to Ideco, the local private and public market shows continuous growth and strength within biometric technology. Given that security remains a critical consideration for decision makers, the prediction is that general focus will remain on ensuring legitimate access is given to relevantly qualified and suitably authorised staff as well as visitors.


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