Facility-Management

Connected Access for All: Best vs. Common Practices

Today more than ever, facility managers are challenged to figure out how to best deploy mobile access within a building, so that employees and tenants can use a smartphone or smart watch as a new type of “key” to unlock places, spaces, and things within a facility.

It’s a timely topic that cannot be avoided, especially with connected access via digital NFC wallets now available across all major mobile device platforms – iPhones, Apple Watches, Android devices, and Galaxy phones. With access credentials in NFC wallets supported by Apple, Google and Samsung, users can tap into the ease and flexibility of using an access pass in their digital wallets, just like they already do for payments, airline tickets, loyalty programs, and much more.

To make this possible at corporations with one to multiple sites and across commercial estate portfolios, there are a handful of practical insights, tips, and strategies to help facility managers, heads of real estate and security administrators implement NFC-enabled mobile keys for seamless access.

For starters, there are a series of common versus best practices to ensure employees and tenants can easily use their mobile devices to access buildings, parking garages, elevators, turnstiles, lockers, amenities, and enterprise resources, among other things typically found in a facility.

Common Practices = Common Mistakes
Common practices of the past were based on using outdated assumptions, and they lacked the necessary balance of creating a great user experience while enhancing security at the same time. Today’s best practices take into consideration the shift away from the notion of “access control” in favor of “access enablement,” which ensures the right people have access to the right places and spaces, at the right time.

This new paradigm seeks to deliver on-demand, self-service access that combines a delightful, connected access experience, automation, stronger governance, and tighter security – all without compromise.

It’s the difference between trying to control the population (legacy) and empowering people (connected access).

Let’s face it: In recent years, common practices of making mobile access available using older technologies have led to inconsistent user experiences and limited options. As a result, many organizations have been slow to embrace using their smartphone or smart watch for access.

It’s important for facility managers to understand “what not to do,” in today’s new reality of access credentials in NFC wallets, so they can avoid repeating the mistakes of the past by early adopters of Bluetooth-enabled mobile keys.

Here are a few tips:

Don’t require users to go through a complex, manual process to authenticate before being able to use their Apple or Android device to gain access to places and spaces.

A user usually does not have the patience to receive an email with a code, then manually type it in, and then wait to complete the authentication process. It’s laborious and time-consuming. A user also does not want to stop at a reception deck to have their mobile credential authorized. It defeats the purpose.

Steer clear of lowering your expectations by accepting an inconsistent and unreliable experience when using mobile instead of plastic cards or fobs.

There is absolutely no reason to expect anything less than a fast, easy and seamless access experience when using mobile devices. Seeing a person waving a phone or a smart watch at a door reader multiple times to get in is a poor experience and should never become the norm. Instead, access credentials in NFC wallets make it possible for users to have the exact same, fast, and reliable access experience with their mobile device as they do with a card or keyfob.

Don’t settle for fragmented mobile use cases.

Avoid enabling mobile access for just a few, limited parts of a facility, requiring employees and tenants to have multiple credentials for access to different places and things. This inconvenience can discourage users from using the mobile credentials. Employees and tenants have become too familiar with this kind of scenario, which prevents a seamless street-to-seat access journey.

Ultimately, best practices are the pathway to superior business outcomes and exceptional user experiences. Embracing best practices for connected access in a facility will eliminate these legacy challenges and potential perceptions about mobile access. Let’s dive into the major dimensions of these new, tried-and-true strategies to help facility managers.

Best Practices: A Better Way for Connected Access in Facilities
Some of the most important keys to success for mobile access in a facility today include leveraging automated onboarding and workflows and maximizing the value of NFC access in digital wallets for street-to-seat, connected access.

Embrace automated onboarding (leveraging zero-trust principles): A first-class digital native experience – such as using Apple Wallet, Google Wallet and Samsung Wallet for access – is now considered an amenity in the workplace. It is a best practice to offer employees and tenants on-demand, self-service access to a facility, which also increases operational and workflow efficiencies for administrators.

The user can bypass the front desk and have on-demand access to the right places, spaces, and things at the right time. It saves time, effort, and costs, while enhancing security and improving privacy. The employee or tenant’s access pass is provisioned into their digital NFC wallet the same way a person would get their boarding pass – users no longer have to wait for access to be granted. They simply download their multi-purpose workplace experience app, onboard using their standard single sign-on…just like they do with their computer log-in, email log-in and other enterprise system logins…and add their pass to their NFC wallet. From there, they have connected access to everything based on their permissions preset by the administrator.

For admins, it’s also important that physical access is treated the same way as enterprise IT access, including applying standard zero trust principles. For example, there should be high assurance that the person accessing a place, space or thing is an authenticated user with a trusted device as a pre-condition of provisioning a pass with their specific permissions in their mobile device’s NFC wallet. It is a best practice to offer a streamlined, rapid process that emulates the logical access authentication process with a single entry to enable access to places, spaces, and things for the desired time.

Ensure a 100% mobile access use case: mobile devices should work everywhere plastic cards do. It’s important to create an access experience that emulates the traditional contactless card experience that users are already accustomed to. NFC technology works 100% of the time, thereby giving users a new and higher confidence in using a smartphone or smart watch to reliably access buildings and resources. The best practice is to deploy NFC-based mobile credentials to be used everywhere smartcards are used, and beyond since employees and tenants want to use their phones for everything.

Additionally, access should be consistent across the base building and corporate office spaces, delivering an unfettered mobile access experience. When mobile access works everywhere for authorized users, it enables a true “street-to-seat” user experience. Cross-platform integration and the simplicity of a NFC access badge in Apple Wallet, Google Wallet, and Samsung Wallet help create this seamless, friction-free journey. From connected access to parking, base building turnstiles and elevators, amenity spaces, corporate office suites, and enterprise resources, it’s become best practice to unlock the true value of a total, streamlined workplace experience – staying ahead of the most relevant trends for a modern facility.

These best practices are poised to shape the future of facilities as more facility managers aim to provide users with experiences that enrich their digital-first lifestyles, while delivering the ‘cool factor’ of using a smartphone or smartwatch to access spaces, places, and things. Accordingly, the shift towards harnessing the power of these recommended strategies begins with a move from a traditional “access control” mindset to the new approach of connected access enablement, which has already been proven in multi-national corporate campuses.

However, these are just a few of the recommendations for leveraging the power of NFC access in digital wallets. Organizations around the world are also tapping into the security benefits of using an iPhone, Apple Watch, Android device, or Galaxy Phone (which enables access transactions that are safe, convenient, and secure), and streamlined access and credential lifecycle management that dramatically increase operational efficiencies in a way that only truly connected access can.

Brandon Arcement is Chief Commercial Officer at SwiftConnect, an information transfer network that links access control systems (ACS) and other proptech solutions to streamline credentialing for companies and building owners.

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