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EXCLUSIVE: New biometric solutions go mainstream


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In this Security Journal Americas exclusive, leading experts at SAFR discuss the rise in new facial recognition solutions and how they are shattering longstanding performance and price barriers.

Once relegated for high security and specialized physical access applications only, new biometric solutions are now a realistic option for virtually any physical security, workforce management and health and safety application.

Fingerprint scanners, iris readers and more recently, facial recognition solutions, are being deployed in record numbers for myriad applications. From their low total cost of ownership to flexibility in both application and function, biometrics are truly now a mainstream solution.

Enhanced physical security

When discussing the various applications of biometrics, access control is likely to top any security professional’s list. Biometrics are fast becoming preferred access control credentials due to their ability to accurately identify and authenticate an individual’s identity. Additionally, biometrics can greatly increase efficiency and security with much lower associated long term costs than conventional physical access credentials. Unlike legacy credentials like proximity devices and cards, a person’s biometric identifiers are impossible to lose, steal, replicate, borrow or forget.

Securing your security systems

Advancements in facial recognition biometrics address hidden security concerns in ways that traditional access control methods cannot. When integrated as an access control solution, facial recognition devices can detect and issue real-time alerts when tailgating is detected. Similarly, anti-spoofing technology employing advanced 3D structured light and RGB technologies ensure the liveliness of the individual being authenticated; this practice prevents bad actors from duping a device by using a photo of an enrolled individual, further ensuring that individuals requesting access are who they say they are.

Smarter workforce management

More than an access control solution, advanced biometrics solutions are also being applied for workforce management applications. Take time and attendance for example – biometrics provide an accurate, real time account of staffing information and status across multiple facilities. Unlike legacy punch cards, the use of biometrics for time and attendance reporting ensures individuals clocking-in are who they claim to be. The technology can effectively put an end to phantom and ghost employees. Smart biometric solutions also seamlessly integrate with HR systems for guaranteed accuracy in payroll/attendance functions.

A better way to manage visitors and contract employees

New biometric solutions also utilize flexible enrollment options to facilitate smart visitor management. Now, guests can register for, request and receive access to a facility prior to their visit. During this process, a visitor uses the camera on their mobile phone to submit a suitable photo in advance while an administrator provides the requested permissions. The visitor then presents their face to the on-site access control reader and, using advanced facial recognition technology, is granted access.

Advanced health and safety solutions

Today’s biometric solutions continue to evolve to address modern and ongoing health and safety risks. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many facial recognition readers quickly added temperature screening and mask detection as additional forms of authentication, denying access to anyone who was not wearing a mask and/or had an elevated skin temperature. As COVID-19 restrictions and concerns continue to fluctuate, administrators can toggle these features on and off as needed. Facial recognition also delivers a touchless access control experience, promoting a reduction in touch surfaces and spread of viruses and bacteria – a concern of organizations that will surely transcend the pandemic.

Recognition bias and personal privacy myths

Biometrics, especially facial recognition technologies, are often subject to a variety of inaccurate or preconceived notions surrounding their use and personal privacy. In reality, biometrics have undergone a variety of iterations to combat bias and privacy concerns. Many of today’s facial recognition algorithms were developed with machine learning trained to recognize and differentiate facial feature characteristics using a set of globally diverse faces. Reputable facial recognition software also undergoes rigorous testing by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to check for signs of bias.

Additionally, new biometric solutions employ the latest encryption methods to ensure individuals’ personal information is kept private. In fact, most advanced biometric systems do not store any visual images of faces or other biometric identifiers; this helps ensure that individuals’ personal privacy data is always protected, avoiding potential liabilities related to new and emerging privacy protection mandates. Furthermore, most biometric solutions are opt-in, meaning users are aware and consenting to the use of their biometrics. However, the ability to match identities with watch lists of known criminals/banned individuals/ex-employees can also be accommodated, adding another layer of security for enrolled employees and occupants within a protected facility.

Biometrics solutions hit the mainstream

Small to medium business have historically been priced out of accurate, cost-effective biometric solutions. Today, advanced technology and feature-rich solutions have made biometrics widely accessible at highly attractive price points and with a low overall cost of entry. For example, most modern biometric readers are OSDP and Wiegand compliant with PoE plug and play integration with the vast majority of existing access control systems and infrastructure. Instead of undergoing a system-wide ‘rip-and-replace,’ organizations can deploy new biometric solutions to the locations that require advanced security with little disruption to their current system. New biometric devices can also perform in a variety of conditions – indoors or outdoors – a desirable capability not possible with most facial recognition solutions.

Small and medium businesses

Professional offices: Doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, realtors, insurance agents and other industry professionals all require closed door offices for private appointments and consultations. Similarly, these professionals are charged with the safekeeping of valuable personal information.

Retail stores: Smash-and-grab thefts are on the rise and overhead cameras are ineffective when it comes to providing identifiable images for legal recourse. Advanced biometric facial recognition readers offers video at the door for easy identification of perpetrators at eye level. Luxury retailers can provide a one-of-a-kind, high end shopping experience by integrating a watchlist of known VIPs.

Restaurants: While restaurants are generally open to all, some spaces still require safeguarding such as executive offices and cash storage rooms. Cut down on employee theft and manage access to these areas with advanced biometric facial recognition readers.

Enterprise operations

Cannabis growers and retailers: Cannabis nurseries and dispensaries have a variety of regulatory compliance obligations to fill. New biometric facial recognition readers help cannabis operations meet a number of these legal requirements by providing accurate people counting, watchlist integration and tailgating alerts.

Data centers: New biometric facial recognition readers provide unmatched access protections and the utmost levels of security for both internal and freestanding data centers. Security features such as its anti-spoofing and anti-tailgating capabilities ensure those accessing valuable data storage centers are who they claim to be.

Multitenant residential: Traditional multitenant buildings often manage access using doormen, security guards, physical access credentials or old-fashioned keys. These legacy forms of access are costly with long term expenses and many shortfalls. Advanced biometric facial recognition readers provide highly accurate identity authentication which increases security with detailed access logs for other applications such as workforce management.

Corporate Campus: Large corporate campuses contain a number of areas, buildings and rooms that can make use of advanced biometric facial recognition readers’ abilities. Maintain social distancing in shared spaces such as cafeterias and meeting rooms using people counting capabilities. Keep track of employee hours and absences using time and attendance functions.

Community powerhouses

Healthcare: Hospitals, in-patient clinics and behavioral health facilities can apply advanced biometric facial recognition readers to help better manage patient, visitor and employee access. Administrators can control access to semi-private locations such as patient rooms to ultra-secure areas such as drug storage rooms and operating rooms.

Education: Universities can turn to advanced biometric facial recognition readers for a safe and effective Personal Identity and Access Management (PIAM) solution. Higher education uses range widely to cover student housing access, class attendance auditing, cafeteria access and even mustering reports. Students love that they do not need to carry a credential and administrators appreciate easy integration into existing access systems.

Government: Government facilities require the utmost level of security and protection. Look for advanced biometric facial recognition readers that are made TAA and NDAA compliant and integrate with watchlists of known criminals or terrorists for an added layers of protection in government facilities.

Assisted living facilities: Personnel at assisted living facilities are tasked with not only keeping unauthorized users out but also keeping residents in to effectively stop resident elopement. New biometric facial recognition readers work in a variety of conditions and can be installed either indoors or out with the same high levels of performance. They also make a great access control solution for individuals’ resident doors, eliminating the need for physical credentials or keys that can be easily lost, stolen or misplaced.

The recent proliferation of biometric technology is greatly owed to the fact that biometrics are no longer single dimensional solutions. Not just for access control, the potential scope of biometric applications has just started to surface and we should expect the capabilities and applications for biometrics to expand exponentially across all market sectors moving forward.

For more information, visit: safr.com

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