Mobile Access Control: What are Mobile Credentials?

Mobile Access Control system

A mobile access control system is an access control system that uses smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches as credentials to allow access to the restricted area. It is a great alternative to the traditional physical access card systems that use keycards, fobs, and badges to gain access. Access control systems have been around for a very long time. With the advent of the IoT and smartphones, access control system technology has evolved a lot. As per the recent study by Gartner 20% of organizations use smartphones in place of traditional physical access cards.

In this post, we will look at how a mobile access control system works, what are the advantages of mobile credentials, and what to keep in mind while choosing a mobile access control system.

How does a mobile access control system work?

Like any physical access control system, a mobile access control system has the five main components: access point, personal credentials, reader, control panel, and access control server. The major difference between a physical access control system and a mobile access control system is that a mobile access control system uses mobile credentials.

Mobile access control is powered by Bluetooth and NFC technology. Using the BLE or NFC technology, a secure connection between the reader and the smartphone is established. As everyone has a smartphone, this system can be easily used in most organizations.

What are the benefits of mobile credentials?

Mobile credentials offer a range of advantages over traditional physical access credentials that use keycards, fobs, badges, pins, or biometrics. Have a look at the three main benefits of mobile credentials.

Secure

Mobile credentials are more secure than keycards, fobs, and badges. There are various reasons behind that. The first is that mobile phones cannot be cloned. They are the most secured devices in the market. If you lose a keycard, it can be cloned easily and someone unauthorized can get access to the facility easily. Whereas in the case of using smartphone credentials, a user needs to unlock their phone first. In today’s digitally advanced world, almost every smartphone comes with a passcode, fingerprint, or facial ID lock. Thus, it is almost impossible to breach security if you use a mobile access control system.

Second, you can add the two-factor authentication in highly restricted areas that require a user to use biometrics to unlock their phone via thumbprint or FaceID to use their mobile credentials. Third, all the communication between mobile access control systems and mobile credentials is end- to-end encrypted.

Convenient

Mobile credentials are more convenient than physical credentials. Your employee need not go through the hustle of carrying the keycards, badges, or fobs. Forgetting keycards at home or losing keycards is quite common, but it is highly unlikely that someone will lose their phone as compared to the keycard. Thus, the mobile access control system is highly convenient. Your employees do not have to carry the keycards anymore and the employer does not have to worry about managing the inventory of the keycards.

Bluetooth Low Energy technology does not require manual pairing. The connection between the reader and the mobile phone can be established over long distances as BLE Range can be meters instead of inches.

Not just that, mobile access control systems come with a range of features such as some readers in the market allow users with a mobile credential to open a door hands-free with the motion-activated Wave to Unlock feature.

Some systems also support door unlocks by tapping the entry in the app, via Apple Watch or tablet app, or by simply touching the reader.

Thus, you do not even have to take your phone out to unlock the door. Also, mobile access control is based on cloud storage and IoT. All-access permissions can be easily regulated in the cloud by specialized security agents. The administrators can easily manage the access using their devices.

Cost-effective

A mobile access control system is a cost-effective solution. There is no need for employers to invest in purchasing, issuing, and replacing keycards, fobs and badges. Almost everyone working in an IT organization has a smartphone. All you need is software to connect your smartphones with the mobile access control system. The users have already invested in the hardware.

Not just that, the mobile access control system is different from the physical access control system in the fact that it uses cloud storage instead of the on-site server. All credentials are managed in the cloud. There is no need to have a dedicated physical server on-site to manage which eliminates the cost of licensing, maintaining, and servicing the on-premise servers.

What to keep in mind while choosing a mobile access control system?

mobile access control system
mobile access control system

There are plenty of things to keep in mind while choosing a mobile access control system. Here are the top three things that will help you make the right choice:

System Security

The first and most important thing you need to ensure is that your mobile access control system is secured. Look for a system that comes with an ISO 27001-certified system architecture. Most good mobile access control systems come with 256-bit encryption on a BLE or NFC connection.

Features of the system

Mobile access control systems come with a range of features. It is up to you to decide what features you need. For example, do you need a camera on the reader? Do you need a mic on the reader? Do you need cloud-based access control? Based on the features you want, the price of the mobile access control system varies. Make sure the mobile access solution has its app, an SDK to integrate mobile access features into your existing app and support the advanced features.

The cost of ownership

It is a very important factor when choosing a mobile access control system. Many factors can influence the cost of the access control system. Look for a system that has a lower cost of ownership in the long term and can be easily scalable to fulfill the growing needs of an organization.

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