New Opportunities Open Up For Mobile Access Control Vendors In The COVID-19 Era

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New Opportunities Open Up For Mobile Access Control Vendors In The COVID-19 Era

Mobile access control apps – which enable users to open doors or turnstiles with their smartphone – have been a focal point of innovation in the building technology market over the past year. For example, Siemens redesigned its Siveillance Access mobile app so users can open smart locks from SALTO access control systems. Schneider Electric launched functionality in its workplace app so users can assign temporary digital access keys to visitors. Workplace software vendor Spica Technologies also launched contactless access control functionality on its workplace mobile app Luna. 

The traditional value proposition for access control mobile apps has been user experience and enabling building security teams to maintain tighter control of access rights. For example, security teams can centrally manage access rights without the need to distribute and monitor the use of physical key cards. They can also vary access privileges to individual doors and locks. Most of these propositions work by a mobile app sending an encrypted `digital key’ via Bluetooth to a Bluetooth low energy (BLE) reader to open access. Some apps require multi-factor authentication for added security.

Making building feel safer during the COVID-19 era is another use case for access control mobile apps. They can aid a contactless building experience, which has been a focal point in many return to work programmes. The British Council for Offices published guidance encouraging architects to consider touchless devices such as automatic doors, programmable lifts, and contactless toilet pods. Firms can also leverage these mobile apps to control the flow of people around a building or even restrict access if an employee has not filled out a health questionnaire.  Reflecting the growing use cases for the technology, mobile access control vendor Openpath raised $36 million in July 2020, bringing its total funding to $63 million.  

While contaminated surfaces are not the primary mode of COVID-19 transmission, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, building users have an appetite for any initiatives that reduce risk. Hotel chains have also been adopting the technology as they try to lure back guests. For example, CitizenM and Virgin Hotels upgraded their mobile apps so guests can use them to check in and access their rooms. For more insights on developing an occupant health and wellbeing programme for your building, read our report Beyond COVID-19: Emerging Best Practices For Occupant Health And Wellbeing.

Susan Clarke

Research Director

Susan leads the Verdantix Smart Buildings practice. Her current research agenda focuses on software solutions for real estate management including integrated workplace management systems and IoT platforms for buildings. Her research expertise also includes a broad range of energy management technologies and energy services. Susan has eight years of experience in technology research. She holds a MSc from the University of London in Sustainable Development.