Cloud is playing an important role in keeping businesses afloat during the current global COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when social distancing measures are still in force, the ability of cloud systems to connect remote workers has never been so relied upon or so appreciated. It has already transformed business across many sectors, offering benefits of scalability, customisation and device interoperability that were unattainable using traditional legacy systems. Cloud facilitates the management of entire operations, and negates the need for the traditional on premise set up that has proven so costly for companies to manage and maintain.
The physical security of premises is also being transformed; traditional standalone systems are being replaced with modern cloud-enabled solutions. These solutions are not only capable of providing the highest levels of security and protection, but also use data to produce powerful analytics that help inform security and business decision making. In addition, the remote management of systems can aid in the monitoring and control of premises without a need to be physically present. And in the current environment this is a key consideration.
ACaaS: the evolution of access control
Once a very manual process, access control required direct human involvement. Access control as-a-service (ACaaS) provides a fully automated, intelligent solution and is about so much more than simply letting people in and out of buildings. By combining access control data in the cloud with the data from other devices across an organisation, security and business managers can gain valuable insights into business functionality, subsequently using this to find ways to unlock value.
As an example, consider a large warehousing operation in which managers need to ensure the right truck is directed to the right loading bay for the delivery or collection of goods. It’s a manual, labour intensive process where queues, mistakes and delays cause a knock-on effect which impacts on productivity. Now, consider that same environment, but with loading bays that are dynamically allocated according to information from a variety of sources, such as delivery schedules, visual confirmation of trucks arriving on site from security cameras, and the location of staff and goods within the warehouse. This can all be controlled and coordinated via the access control network.
Hosted access control driving efficiency across industries
The possibilities for such use span many industries. In the healthcare industry currently, there are positive applications to ensure health, safety and security. Within hospital environments where COVID-19 patients are being cared for, door control systems are being used for their intercom capabilities, enabling clinicians and patients to communicate safely via video at entry / exit points to wards. Within an office environment, competitive advantage can be created by understanding working preferences or how employees move around the building; the resulting intelligence may influence hot desking and home working policies, or the introduction of energy efficient lighting applications.
From a security perspective, an automated system provides peace of mind. An access control solution which is linked to HR records, for example, can check the swipe of an access card against staff records, using advanced diagnostic capabilities. A staff member who is flagged as being on leave, absent with sickness or no longer employed by the company will trigger an automated alert to security personnel or the authorities. With surveillance cameras able to provide secondary authentication through visual clarification of an individual’s identity, the integration of physical technology and cloud connectivity proves a powerful combination.
Remote monitoring and management in challenging times
In the current climate, many buildings are still vacant, or manned by only the essential key workers. It’s therefore important for security and operational teams to have on-site visibility without contravening social distancing and lockdown regulations. ACaaS provides a comprehensive, overarching view of any environment, enabling the data from the access control system, surveillance cameras, and other sensors and devices to be combined to generate insights. The ability to remotely manage premises via a device, and to retrieve business intelligence at the touch of a button based on the insights the system provides, is an incredibly powerful tool given the current global situation.
For a solution that is required to operate continuously, reliability is key. ACaaS is backed by a regular rollout of software updates and firmware upgrades to keep the system current. This comes as part of the operational expenditure model on which ACaaS is based, requiring a monthly fee and no upfront investment for a solution that is quickly installed and fully vendor supported. Unlike a traditional capital expenditure model, requiring large upfront investment and ongoing physical updating of systems, ACaaS and its op-ex business model removes the need for on-site manual maintenance. This means no loss of service, which is of critical importance at the current time.