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Hands Free Access Control

Building security has come a long way in recent times. Many people no longer carry a key to their office, but rather use a fob or an access card to gain admittance.

These electronic access systems make it much easier to restrict access to highly sensitive areas, track visitors, etc, but they still require rummaging for a fob or card, which can easily be dropped or lost. The next step is hands free access control.

How Does Hands Free Access Control Work?

Hands free access control works by using either an access card or an app on your phone that allows for reading (via RFID or BlueTooth) at a distance of up to a couple of meters. Ideally, thus, you simply walk up to the door and it opens. If combined with a powered door, there is no need to touch a pin pad, a reader, or even the door itself.  The systems that use phones count on our tendency to take our smartphones everywhere. Users don’t even need to take their phone out of their pocket.

The OpenPath readers require a wave of one’s hand to request access, but still read a phone that is in a bag or pocket. This prevents doors from opening repeatedly if an employee is loitering right outside. It also allows a simple one click access for visitors, which can be texted to the visitor.

What Are the Advantages of Hands Free Access Control?

Hands free access control has a number of advantages, particularly for certain applications. Here are some of the most significant:

No Need for Badges

Because the system is built around the user’s phone, there is no need to carry a badge. Thus, badges cannot be lost or stolen. (Phones should have remote wipe capability to ensure that a lost or stolen phone cannot be used to access the system). The vast majority of users are unlikely to forget their phone. The system can also be used with smart watches, which would allow for simply lifting your hand with the watch to gain access.

There is also no need to issue visitor badges, which are often not returned. Visitors are sent a link for access, and don’t need to download an app. Visitors who have already been approved don’t need to stop at reception; this is handy for residential care homes who can grant access to family members automatically. This can save a lot of money for buildings that have numerous visitors. The links can be set to expire, ending access after a period of time. OpenPath’s system is better than others in this regard.  It is also easier to terminate the access of a fired employee quickly.

No Need to Touch Doors

If combined with automatic doors, the system eliminates the need to touch doors. This is particularly useful for hospitals and care homes, where infection control is a major issue and healthcare workers often have their hands full with sterile equipment, or are pushing wheelchairs or beds. Needless to say this is also important for disabled people. In today’s world, avoiding contamination is more important than ever.

Automatically opening doors can be used any time there are issues with workers having their hands full. They also speed access flow because people do not have to struggle with the doors.

Easier Parking Access

For parking, the driver’s phone or a reader attached to the vehicle can be used. Traditional parking access often requires rolling down the window and contorting yourself to swipe a fob. It’s not unknown for the driver to have to open the door and get part of the way out of the car. Needless to say this slows everything down and causes lines. With some readers it is not even necessary to stop.

A phone-based system can be used for visitors and could even work for hotels, despite the large turnover. Many hotels are already experimenting with phone apps for room access.

Access Tracking

Although these systems are not real time tracking, they can be used to track entry to (and if set up, exit from) the building. Thus, these kinds of systems can replace time clocks by tagging employees in and out of the building, can determine who is in the building if there is a need to evacuate, and can track across broad areas.

They can also be used to detect failed access attempts, or attempts made by somebody who you know is in a different location, helping detect security problems so that they can  be dealt with.

Improved Traffic Flow

For high traffic areas such as lobbies or check points, the improvement in traffic flow can be dramatic. People can walk through easily, without slowing down, and the system can register every device that passes. Motion detection can be used to detect followers, alerting security smoothly. Nobody has to rummage for their key, or stop dead when they realize they left their badge at home, creating a bottleneck and then having to struggle against the flow to get out of the way.

Fewer lines to enter the building results in improved morale and helps people get to their desks on time, especially if you have everyone on the same standard shift and thus trying to get in and out at once. This is also handy for buildings which have lobby level security, such as residential buildings, where people can be buzzed in by sending a text to reception or to the person they are visiting. (Individual residents can be provided with their own access link to send to their guests or delivery workers, which saves visitors from having to stop at reception to sign in).

Hands free access systems provide unparalleled convenience without sacrificing security. The safety issues with constantly touching doors have been highlighted by recent events, and it’s likely that the idea of hands free access will spread. Open Path provides excellent hands free access solutions based off of a phone app or a traditional badge. These access solutions improve convenience and safety and are a key part of how access control will develop in the future.