The corona crisis has led to many challenges and uncertainties. Normally lively office buildings are now often empty, and this necessitates a different approach to access control and security. At the same time, the demand for growth, business continuity, risk reduction and compliance remains undiminished. Nsecure director Hans van Driel sees innovations in the field of access control and security as crucial to resolving this dilemma. He has identified a number of security trends for 2021.
Van Driel expects that, in 2021, a rapidly growing number of companies will engage a security management partner to add flexibility and relieve or downscale their own facilities management services. “If you pay for your security services on an basis, you can realise major cost savings, achieve a higher quality of security, easily upgrade technology and rapidly downsize your own people and buildings.”
More importantly, the intensive IT components, complex security systems and interrelationships with operational processes mean security has become extremely complex. “This demands constant vigilance and innovation. Company boards must devote attention to continued investment in innovative applications. In our profession, innovation requires a high level of expertise. Adapting or updating systems demands a long-term vision. While cost-related considerations are of course always a factor, they should not dominate.”
Van Driel points out that insufficient innovative capacity will adversely affect the performance of systems, while these should in fact contribute to optimising operational processes. “A security partner such as Nsecure is always on top of the latest innovations and can help make technology smarter, supporting with fewer people and more technology.”
An example of an innovation that is hard to implement yourself is remote 24/7 monitoring, security and alarm response, which Nsecure provides via their Observation Room. “Our observers can do almost everything remotely, while others need to be present on location. This includes opening and closing buildings, access control, visitor registration, supplier arrivals and alarm verifications. This delivers enormous benefits in terms of costs and convenience.”
Today, many buildings are shared by multiple companies and thus accommodate a mix of functionalities. The trend towards working at home – which will continue even after corona – means this is expected to increase even further. Many companies are also making increasing use of flexible staff and independent contractors. As such, Van Driel foresees a shift from systems based around buildings to personal solutions, in which identity management will play a key role.
“A building will no longer belong to one company but will instead be a leased property, where access control and security are essential elements. An administrative office requires a different type of security to a bank. With a mix of businesses under one roof, you need expertise to ensure this runs smoothly. This must work for all stakeholders, while taking account of the legislation and regulations applying to individual companies. This requires not just broad process knowledge, but also reliable, definable, smart software that takes account of every level.”
Access control is traditionally static: an access pass with an employee number is linked to software that holds personal data. “Independent contractors without an employee number must also be granted access. You also need to determine their access rights, from the spaces they may enter to the equipment they may operate. This type of flexibility shouldn't be realised via security management, but via identity management. While security management is now primarily focused on buildings, the identity of people will become increasingly important. This means security will increasingly shift from the building to the individual.”
The industry is facing major challenges in the field of workflow and identity management. Van Driel: “For example, consider a maintenance shutdown with hundreds or even thousands of employees at home and abroad. In the past, multiple security guards would check if someone was certified and which parts of the site he or she was allowed to access. All this information was stored in folders. Employees' knowledge of the organisation and all the rules was assessed via classroom exams. This was a time-consuming process, which led to long queues at the gate on a daily basis. With YIM, we have digitalised this entire process. First of all, this saves a great deal of time and money, while also ensuring that companies comply with all legislation, regulations and safety standards.”
With the YIM IT platform, digitalised data can be stored in a portal. The software also allows employees, visitors and contractors to complete an e-learning and exam beforehand. “With one click, our customers can view the digital file. This means they can guarantee that their people are qualified and that they are compliant with all rules related to labour migration, tax, social security and undocumented immigration. This automation of the workflow is unique: now it often takes no more than a few days before someone has an access pass, rather than weeks.”
Traditionally, access control and security assume that central systems will be serviced at regular intervals and will continue to work until the following maintenance inspection. For more than a decade, Nsecure has monitored the actual use of equipment and the performance of systems. Based on the results of this research and the applicable NEN standards, maintenance can be predicted and planned.
Van Driel: “By continuously analysing data to identify abnormalities and deviations from trends, we know that something is wrong at an early stage. In fact we can even predict faults and prevent them by intervening promptly. Thanks to this predictive maintenance, we can assume total responsibility for the security chain. We provide this for a fixed price, which guarantees the continuity of security systems. Believe me: in time, the market will demand that security partners offer this. Fewer faults and a higher uptime are essential for a long-term partnership.”
At present, companies often hold sensitive personal data, such as social security numbers and copies of passports. As an individual, you want to retain control of your personal data and to decide yourself who has access to it. This means the use of mobile phones in access control and security will increase. Because mobile phones have biometric features, including facial recognition and fingerprint recognition, you can verify someone's digital identity. More and more of our customers are asking about the possibilities. After all, access with your mobile phone isn't just convenient, it also delivers cost savings.”
He sees decentralised identity as a potential solution. In this concept, control of and responsibility for personal data returns to the individual. Everyone manages and protects their own data: for which purposes may my data be used – or not? These decentralised identities, which are registered in a blockchain, replace identifiers such as usernames. Nsecure is currently investigating the possibilities for developing such a system.
Van Driel also notes the emergence of advanced access control apps. “For example, we developed an app for a customer that links to an institute that issues VCA safety certificates. The app always records in real time whether the user has a valid VCA certificate. The authorisation is made possible by an extensive, automated workflow. This allows supervisors to monitor whether employees on location are authorised via the app.”
The director predicts that a change is coming. “While the development and manufacture of hardware components and software are tightly coupled at present, they will become individual purchases that you can easily link together. Cameras, access control, intercom, intrusion detection: soon you'll be able to combine them via a single platform, without being limited to a single vendor.”
Interoperability is currently still a problem. “Nsecure will push this innovation in the market. Equipment will become cheaper and cheaper, which means there is no more added value to be found there. The key is to offer good advice and software with greater functionality, which allows you to transition from building-oriented to personal systems, for example. Because the decoupling of hardware and software offers flexibility, freedom, security and sustainability, there will be a great deal of demand for this.
The pandemic has led to considerable challenges for organisations in relation to the use, monitoring and occupation of working environments and offices. At the same time, the corona crisis has accelerated the digital transformation for many companies.
Against this backdrop, Van Driel sees that organisations are increasingly measuring occupation levels, introducing workplace registration and integrating various systems for camera monitoring, intrusion detection and building management, for example. “In this way, they quickly have all the information they need in one place, and managers know exactly who is in the building at the touch of a button.” In his opinion, it is striking that more and more small businesses are taking this step.
Van Driel also sees that the corona crisis is causing SMEs – following the example of larger organisations – to no longer purchase their own systems, but instead pay for use and functionalities. He believes this is a positive development. “I see this as an increase in professionalisation between the provider and the customer.”
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