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Smart Technology for Access Control

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Published in BSIA Features

Access Control is now one the largest sectors of security, providing public and private organisations with a full range of technical support which is needed for protecting property, employees and valuable items. There is now a large variety of Access Control systems: basic number keypads, smart cards and biometric fingerprint scanners. In 2015 smartphones were integrated into Access Control systems. Two thirds of the UK’s population is now using smartphones; this has lead security companies to invent new products and systems which integrate the use of these popular devices. James Kelly, Chief Executive of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) discusses what’s currently on offer for Access Control customers and future development of this sector.

Smart card security

Smartcard systems are one of the most common options for access security. Each user is provided with a credit card sized fob which allows them access to buildings, offices, elevators and outside areas which are restricted from the general public. They’re commonly found in working offices, banks, train stations (oyster cards) and hotels. Smartcards are easily usable and can be cost effective as cards and card readers can now be bought at a reasonable price.

Although they’re popular with most users, smartcards do have some security risks. A common risk is unreported lost or stolen cards to security staff or system provider. Security staff asks all users to give immediate notice of any missing cards to prevent non-users entering premises such as office or hotel room, but not all users follow this request. Smartcards can be easily disabled and tracked to see if it has been used since being reported missing.


Many Access Control suppliers have recently championed biometric security and over the past few years developed a number of well-designed innovative biometric systems which have lowered security risks in aviation, education and banking. In 2012, smartphone providers Apple designed the IPhone 5s to have a built in touch ID fingerprint reading sensor, shortly followed by Samsung who also added this feature when putting the Galaxy 5s to market. This increased the number of people using biometric security on a daily basis with the power of smartphones.

Biometric identifiers are the measurable characteristics used to describe each human being. There are two types of identifiers: behavioural and physiological characteristics. Physiological characteristics include: fingerprint, palm veins, DNA, facial recognition, hand print and iris recognition. Behavioural characteristics are related to voice control and pitch as well as other factors such as pace of walk. It is becoming increasingly popular to install biometric security as the risks are limited.

CCTV Surveillance – Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)

Automatic Number Plate Recognition – ANPR is a security method which monitors vehicles coming in and out of a protected area. The system works by CCTV surveillance being installed on the side of the barrier; this allows the camera to identify whether the vehicle requesting to be allowed through is recorded on the system as recognised or unrecognised by quickly scanning the front number plate. ANPR is rapidly reducing costs for businesses as they do not have to employ multiple security guards to do this job on a daily basis at an ongoing cost.

Future for Access Control Security

The latest technology for using your smartphone as an advanced security device is now commonly available. Kaba Ltd, British Security Industry Association (BSIA) member has been successful in partnering with Hetras to implement a fully-integrated Mobile Key Access solution for leisure hotel giants, Village Hotels who have over 28 locations in the UK. For many years, guests staying at Village Hotels would only be able to check in at the hotel’s reception and access their room using an electronic key card. With great technical development, BSIA member - Kaba Ltd has now made it possible for Village Hotel guests to check in and access their room using their smartphone.

This development was influenced by the 69% increase in smartphone users from 2012 to 2015. According to the latest Ofcom’s research, on average smartphone owners are using their devices at least 2 hours per day. The UK society is becoming ever more digitally led and simple daily tasks are now being completed online using easy to use applications.

Steve Bewick, Managing Director of Kaba Ltd, says: “We are thrilled to be working with Village Hotels in the UK on the deployment of Kaba’s Mobile Key solution throughout the Village portfolio. Village Hotels is an exciting brand in the UK market. Its innovative approach enhances the guest experience and puts the convenience of market-leading mobile technology literally in the user’s hand”

This type of development in Access Control is very promising for the security sector. The market is extremely competitive and hopefully the launch of new products such as Mobile Key Access will encourage other suppliers to bring to market new products for the future which will have an even greater impact.    

Looking to find an Access Control supplier?

Members of the BSIA’s Access and Asset Protection section are experts in Access Control solutions and can offer advice on the different types of products available and the environments they are best suited to.

To source a member company near you, please visit the Association’s website: