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Gallagher innovates on mobile access control as demand soars

Gallagher innovates on mobile access control as demand soars
Gallagher innovates on mobile access control as demand soars talks to Steve Bell, Chief Technology Officer at Gallagher, to gain his insights on the mobile access control market, the role mobile access would play in the post-pandemic world, and what Gallagher is set to offer its customers in this area.

Enterprises are making a marked migration to mobile access as a more secure and convenient form of access control credential. The pandemic has only hastened the adoption of contactless solutions to address new market requirements and demands. As we recover from the pandemic, users are choosing to adopt technology that would not only adhere to health care guidelines but also provide long-term benefits to security and business efficiency.

Few people in the security industry understand the market pulse better than Steve Bell, CTO of Gallagher, who has led the development of several security products for over 30 years. His broad knowledge and well-balanced technical and commercial experience drive his focus on business-relevant, innovative solutions that solve real-world problems.
We spoke to Bell to get his thoughts on the mobile access control market, the role mobile access would play in the post-pandemic world, and what Gallagher is set to offer its customers in this area.

How has the mobile access control market evolved in the last year?

Bell: We have seen significant growth and change within the global market for mobile access control in the last 12 months. Without a doubt, this has been driven by a variety of factors, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the desire for contactless and remote issuing of mobile credentials.
Add to that the global shortage of components – which has been particularly challenging for the supply of traditional cards such as MIFARE DESFire EV2 and EV3 cards. Interestingly, this shortage has been a catalyst for pushing sites to expedite their move to mobile.
The outcome for Gallagher has been a more than 250-percent increase in the number of credentials issued in the last year. Our ability to achieve this has rested on our customers' long-term investment in Gallagher compatible multi-tech readers and the Gallagher production model. This approach leverages our own vertical manufacturing capability alongside outstanding component management to ensure we maintain our supply of readers for new projects and project expansion.

Which verticals are most interested in mobile credential-based access control systems? 

Bell: The reality is that no matter what the vertical, there is a segment of customers who recognize the operational efficiencies and gains delivered by using mobile credentials. These customers are identifying that most of their users have a suitable mobile device (whether personal or company-issued), meaning they only have to maintain a relatively small number of physical cards – this is a big win.
For our enterprise users who have a mobile app (for their users), Gallagher provides them with an SDK for integration into that app. This provides an awesome experience for both administrators and users alike.

What are some of the best practices systems integrators must follow to get the best out of mobile-credential-based access control?

Bell: Right at the top of any list of best practice approaches to get the most out of your mobile system is the need to stay up to date with software updates. The value of doing so in terms of functionality, flexibility, protection, and support is hugely important.
At a more specific level, there are many examples of best practices that we regularly encourage integrators to be aware of. A simple example of this would be ensuring the tuning of automatic read ranges is appropriate for the location of the reader. For example, at a set of turnstiles, the read range should be about 300mm for Bluetooth to ensure that the correct reader/turnstile is triggered. Similarly, for doors, keep the automatic connect distances short if it is important to not have doors triggered inadvertently.

This functional application advice is critical for convenience and security and, in the end, protecting what matters most.

During the pandemic, there was a move toward contactless solutions. Will customers continue to gain benefits from mobile credential solutions now that we are almost past it?

Bell: There is no doubt that the benefits experienced with mobile credentials extend well beyond the pandemic.
In the most functional sense, customers can expect to enjoy significant savings in administration time and money with no physical cards to procure, encode or print at the outset. There are also none of the operational overheads and hassles associated with managing users that turn up to work having forgotten their access card – requiring temporary cards or access solutions. Unsurprisingly, people seem to be much more careful about remembering their phones.
For those at an enterprise level with their own mobile app (or a building management app) running with Gallagher SDK included, the provision workflow can be entirely automated and streamlined. This gives the user an effortless and efficient experience and saves significant administration costs.

What are some of the key factors attracting customers to Gallagher’s mobile solution?

Bell: For Gallagher, credential security sits on top of this list. It is non-negotiable. Gallagher Mobile Connect has been designed with FIDO UAF certified authenticators, ensuring our solutions are completely and fully secure against phishing attacks and that there are no secrets kept in the cloud, on any server, controller, or reader which, if lost, could compromise the system's security.
Beyond this non-negotiable, we are proud to deliver a fully integrated security ecosystem that includes a wide-reaching range of features and benefits.
These include everything from a photo ID in the app that can be centrally managed and securely distributed to the phone to a solution that allows simple building automation commands, such as switching on air conditioning after hours. All of this is delivered with the capability to accommodate credentials for other third-party readers such as Salto.
Our solution offers further benefits which arise in the integration with Gallagher Command Centre Mobile. Mobile security personnel can scan mobile credentials as easily as a physical card and validate people are where they are allowed to be, as well as giving the easy capability to tune the distances from the reader for the automatic (hands-free) authentication.

What plans does Gallagher have for the mobile credential-based access control market?

Bell: At Gallagher, we are in a constant state of innovating in this space. During 2022 and beyond, we have a series of exciting mobile credential projects on the go, spanning everything from adding further support for other suppliers’ readers to introducing enhanced functionality for the interface between credential tech and Mobile Connect.
The reality is that we are also constantly looking at ways to innovate based on the many interesting and varied new ‘use-cases’ that our customers bring. All of which drive us to further expand the scope and flexibility of our solutions.

Optimized for efficiency in performance and cost

Mobile access control solutions offer a perfect combination of security and efficiency for customers without incurring massive capital investment. The system bodes well with the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), which is gaining popularity worldwide. As things go back to a relative "new normal," we expect to see these technologies become even more accessible and adopted to help organizations meet compliance requirements. Gallagher's unwavering focus on aligning product innovation with market needs will enable it to continue delivering high value and impact to its global customers.

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