Security guard with sunglasses standing at top of stairs with

Is frictionless entrance control achievable? And, what are the benefits?

Everyone has been to a meeting where the security guard doesn’t know who you are, who cannot get the correct person on the phone to acknowledge that you are meant to be there and who, quite rightly, then makes you wait around until eventually someone comes down, full of apology for keeping you waiting, to verify your identity and authorise your entry.

Not the best way to set the tone for an efficient and effective meeting!

Similarly, for regular staff or other occupants, who might be bringing in a coffee to start their morning or juggling the work they took home the night before, having to root about in pockets for access cards or key fobs can increase stress and frustration before the day has even begun.

When people enter your building, whether as visitors or every day users, their main concerns are on the events that will take place within the building, not the act of gaining access to the building itself. The aim of a successful entrance control system is for it to be frictionless, to offer little or no resistance to the task in hand whilst simultaneously delivering the required level of security, and it should start even before people enter the building.

We spoke to John Davies, Managing Director of TDSi and Tony Smith, Major Accounts and Marketing Manager at Integrated Design Limited, to get their thoughts on whether frictionless entrance control is achievable, and where the future lies…

What is meant by frictionless entry?

Frictionless entrance control is about balancing the need for security with an effortless user experience during the act of entering and occupying a space.

“A well thought through security system should allow people to go about their daily lives freely, but still provide comfort that the required level of security is provided,” comments Tony. “By freely, we mean the system requires minimum user interaction, not interfering with them unnecessarily – not asking them to remove gloves, for example. But, there’s no point in having an easy to use system if it doesn’t provide an adequate level of security, giving peace of mind to building occupants that unauthorised people, who might have disruptive intentions, aren’t able to gain access.”

Fastlane turnstiles have been designed with striking this balance front of mind. Not only are they easy on the eye, behind their beautiful exterior the infrared matrix that controls the safe and secure operation of the lane makes thousands of calculations per second based on luggage being carried or pulled, tailgating, unauthorised passages and much more. This intelligent technology is capable of processing up to 60 people per minute, one at a time, so there is little or no dwell time between users. This ease of use coupled with physical barriers and optional locking brakes ensures fast user acceptance is achieved, as well as a robust physical deterrent provided.

Fastlane turnstiles in World Trade Centre

Tony adds: “Our turnstiles look great and can process users quickly, and they certainly provide an adequate physical barrier to prevent unauthorised access. But, to move towards frictionless entry you require more than just our products; good planning during the design phase and a fusion of the best user verification technologies results in the best user experience and delivers on the security side.”

Planning and integration: moving towards frictionless entry

John agrees that the design phase of any security system is crucial in balancing the requirement of security with user convenience: “The design of a security system is vital, especially when it comes to pedestrian entrance control, as you need to ensure you install an adequate number of lanes to deal with the level of footfall, especially during peak times. If there aren’t enough turnstiles installed or the volume and flow of people exceeds the processing speed of the user verification system, then you’re going to create a bottleneck which leads to poor user experience. If you allow for adequate planning during the design phase, using systems such as TDSi’s People Counter, you carry out the correct calculations and you integrate leading access control and entrance control technologies which operate at optimal speeds, you shouldn’t have to compromise on security or good user experience.”

TDSi fingerprint reader Each user verification system has its own set of plus points and drawbacks, some of which have been covered in this previous article. Whether your users are presenting a finger, a card or a face, integrating an access control system which allows their credentials to be checked in a way which doesn’t slow down or inconvenience them – such as TDSi’s DIGIgarde PLUS reader – is key in gaining acceptance. The process of user verification is something which can even begin long before a person enters the building.

Cloud-based identity management and BYOD

“Web based visitor management systems are incredibly easy for end users planning a visit to an access-controlled building to interact with,” comments John. “Users simply pre-register their credentials online in advance of their meeting, so that when they arrive on site they are already recognised as being an authorised person. They may be sent a one-time use barcode or QR code to their phone, which they can use to gain access. They then simply enter the building and head to where their meeting is taking place, with no need to queue up at a reception desk.”

Barcodes had become less commonly used but Integrated Design Limited has recently seen a resurgence in customers requesting this kind of integrated access control reader. Tony continues: “Barcodes and QR codes are popular again, and we believe there are several factors driving this. Firstly, the growth in mobile phones has facilitated this resurgence, as it’s easy to get a barcode or QR code sent to your device. Secondly, this kind of access control is used at most major airports now, as well as large sporting or event venues, so if it’s good enough for these kinds of environments which deal with a constant stream of heavy footfall, it’s deemed good enough for corporate environments too. And thirdly, people carry their phones everywhere with them, which makes them a familiar and convenient access control method for regular employees as well as occasional visitors.”

Another access control method which makes use of this ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) solution and eradicates the need for separate cards, key fobs or other entry tokens is embedding credentials in Near Field Communications (NFC) enabled smartphones, wearable tech or other mobile devices. This BYOD approach allows employees to treat their own personal devices as their ID, with a web-based identity management system deployed to manage the addition of new authorised employees, the change of permissions, as well as the revoking of past employee access. This kind of BYOD system does have its drawbacks, however, as devices can be easily mislaid, stolen or broken, which will complicate the individual employee’s entry until a replacement device can be obtained.

Adding value beyond security

Over the years, there has been a growing demand for entrance control solutions to reach beyond the realm of physical security, adding measurable value to businesses by co-ordinating seamlessly with other security and building management elements. New system combinations and closer relationships between manufacturers, integrators and end users has resulted in greater sharing of data to optimise total building performance and further enhance user experience. For example, integrating lift destination control systems with access control turnstiles facilitates informing the lift of the user’s expected destination before they get into the lift car. With this information the passenger can be directed to the most suitable lift, shortening wait time and resulting in a quicker journey which enhances user experience, as well as lowering energy costs for building managers.

TDSi’s EXgarde integrated security solution has provided this function for Admiral Insurance in Cardiff and you can read more about it in this case study.

Tony comments: “Entrance control solutions are no longer separate from other security and non-security systems. We have been developing ways of working seamlessly with CCTV and intruder detection systems for decades, but more recently – over the past year or two – we have noticed a growing requirement for connecting Vertical Transportation Systems (VTS) and Destination Control Systems (DCS) to our turnstiles, particularly in the US and the Middle East. Crucially, Fastlane turnstiles have the capability to work seamlessly in co-ordination with all known security and building management systems.”

Entrance control is required to demonstrate its added value in delivering time and space efficiencies, and you can read more about this here. John comments: “In some markets – for example the US, which has its Green Building Council LEED rating system – it is mandated, so unless you can demonstrate that your entrance control solution has the integrations capable of reducing energy consumption, your system will not receive approval.”

Can truly frictionless entry be achieved?

Through greater interoperability and compatibility of entrance control and access control systems, the security industry has certainly made great steps towards achieving frictionless entry by improving user experience as well as adding value by optimising total building performance. However, individuals respond differently to various entrance control/access control setups.

Tony adds: “Someone might love the convenience of using their smartphone as ID, whilst someone else might hate having to ensure they always carry their phone if they pop out of the building for lunch. Can you please all of the people all of the time? And if not, can we ever say that frictionless entry has been achieved? Before deciding to implement a new integrated entrance control system, it’s advisable to carry out some user testing to see which system gains the widest user acceptance.”

If you’d like further information about our entrance control turnstiles, or would like assistance designing an entrance control system to suit your environment, please get in touch with our team on +44 (0)20 8890 5550 or email info@fastlane-turnstiles.com.