By Kevin Wilhelm, Solutions Architect, SIGNET

In our current era of ‘smart everything,’ cities and buildings are rising to the challenge, evolving in response to our ever-changing community needs. The definition of a community is transitioning from the physical space in which people live to the spaces in which people interact like the Hudson Yards project in New York City which has combined public, office, residential and retail spaces to create a thriving community. Business and public leaders are working hard to identify how to best support this unprecedented interaction while also creating a secure environment. Advances in security technology through enhanced access control and camera analytics allow these spaces to be secure while also offering the insight needed for stakeholders to adapt and react to how interactions occur.

Traditional access control systems are slow and difficult to scale, requiring long lead times for new credentials and presenting great challenges when attempting to provide secure access to guests. But with the growth of cloud-hosted solutions and mobile credentials, spaces can easily add and remove access to visitors in a way that is easy for both the visitor and space owner to manage. This allows buildings to be flexible when it comes to where and when they want to create community spaces – even temporarily – for special events. Integration with elevator control systems can increase the speed with which large groups of people can move securely through a building.

As an example, a company on an upper floor wants to create an open invitation for a public forum. When members of the public register for the event, an email message is sent to them with their credential to access the building. When registered attendees arrive, they present this mobile credential (typically app- based or a QR code) to the turnstile which is integrated with the elevator control system. The guest is now able to visit the designated floor without disruption to other spaces or individuals within the building.

While this approach was possible previously, it’s the agility demonstrated by all these separate pieces working together to support community interactions that has been greatly enhanced by recent technological advances. This ease of security can extend to parking as well. Instead of needing to take a ticket that can get lost, and then have it validated (which has minimal control), access can now be granted based on license plates. Similar to the visitor technology cited previously, control of parking can be managed through specialized cameras and software designed with machine learning to recognize and grant entry based on a license plate. Advances in machine learning and optics have greatly improved the accuracy of license plate recognition making it a viable solution to parking and visitor management within a secured space.

Security professionals are constantly tasked with processing tremendous amounts of information and reacting quickly where appropriate. The ability to identify a community gathering versus a dangerous crowd is a difficult task for any security team. Enhanced image quality and analytics can now help minimize information overload and provide key actionable information to security personnel that previously would have relied upon intuition and a disparate action plan. Appearance recognition and search technology translates to security personnel having the ability to identify and isolate individuals who may be attempting to incite destructive actions within a public space. In practice, this means that security personnel would be alerted about any individual attempting to access a secure area via alert messaging within a security platform. In the same program, that individual could then be tracked and identified even as they moved throughout the open space allowing security personnel to be vectored and the unwelcome individually quickly removed.

The speed and accuracy of these systems is key in allowing limitedly staffed security teams to react and extinguish an issue before it grows dangerous and also act proactively. Camera analytics can identify crowds of people moving in a way that is atypical of the area, i.e. a protest moving down a street. With advanced notification, security personnel can utilize integrated systems to perform lockdowns or provide instruction through mass notification systems all within a single platform reducing the possibility of error and improving response time.

All of these tasks must be capable of being implemented not just by the 20-year- security veteran but also by the new hire working the system for the first time. This is why standardizing on a common integrated platform is imperative.

Partnering with trusted security solutions providers who offer a wide spectrum of expertise to meet your specific needs is key to the overall success of any security platform. Clients have relied on SIGNET’s integrated security expertise since 1974.