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Face recognition and mobile credentials trending in airport access control

Face recognition and mobile credentials trending in airport access control
Airport access control solutions are becoming smarter and frictionless post the pandemic.
As more countries reopen to travel after the pandemic, airports are forced to deal with a massive rise in traffic. Businesses that had postponed their official trips are ready to get back to them, and leisure trips are back in vogue as people try to destress post a two-year pause. A McKinsey report pointed out that a travel boom is looming as tourists return with a vengeance.
This situation has heightened the importance of robust access control solutions. Mark Williams, Director of Sales for EMEA at AMAG Technology, pointed out that airports are beginning to realize the benefits of frictionless access control.
“They are looking at facial recognition technology and mobile (using your phone rather than an access card) to open doors,” Williams said. “Implementing frictionless technology provides cost savings on cards and is easier to manage. Setup is done remotely, saving time and eliminating the hassle of replacing lost, stolen, or forgotten cards.”

Technology for operational improvement

Besides facial recognition and mobile access control, airports are looking at various technologies to streamline their operations. During COVID-19, a number of organizations had experimented with analytics solutions for crowd control, especially to ensure social distancing. Now similar technology can help airports improve their operational efficiency.
“Video analytics is being used to monitor queue lengths and movement within an airport,” Williams said. “Identity management will ensure the right employees have access to the right doors and provide auditable approvals along with least privileged access permissions.”

Challenges that airports face 

The unprecedented rush to travel has created quite a few challenges for airports. Many of them are unprepared to deal with the increased number of travelers. Upgrading infrastructure is a time and resource-consuming process for airports. Most importantly, getting budgets allocated for upgrades is the biggest concern.
“Obtaining the budget to upgrade or implement new technologies is always a challenge,” Williams pointed out. “Developing a solid roadmap that outlines the risks to demonstrate to leadership the importance of upgrading will help overcome resistance.  On a practical level, upgrade work needs to be undertaken out of hours which in many airports with 24/7 operation is a real challenge that requires careful planning and coordination.”
Another challenge is that in order to upgrade their infrastructure, airports using outdated technologies can be plagued with the need to "rip and replace" all existing hardware.
“While in some cases this may be necessary, there is another solution,” explained Scot Sturges, Director of Business Development, ACRE Americas. “Within access control and beyond, there's an ever-evolving desire to make all devices more intelligent, interoperable, and interconnected. We can look toward the Cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) as the source. Security leaders want intrusion detection systems to work seamlessly with and "talk" to their access control, fire detection, and video management systems to implement an integrated security solution across an organization's entire infrastructure.”

Opportunity for integrators

The increased need for better security has created more opportunities for physical security systems integrators. But as new technologies come in, integrators will have to continuously remain updated and ensure they provide the optimal solutions to their customers.
“Integrators need to keep their product certifications up to date so they are knowledgeable about the solutions they install and can fully support their customers,” Williams said. “They should take advantage of online refresher courses, etc., to maintain their certification.”  

“We recommend regular attendance at the trade shows that we support globally as we always provide a glimpse of new features and products, and this enables the integrator to talk confidently with the end user as to the direction of travel of AMAG’s solution portfolio,” Williams continued.
Sturges also stressed on the importance of remaining up-to-date with technological developments and solutions. Focusing on SaaS and Cloud-based solutions would also enable integrators to improve their recurring revenue.
“For integrators looking to get the most out of their ACRE solutions, they need to stay updated with the latest training, demos, and developments and look for new revenue opportunities,” Sturges said. “Our cloud-based solutions provide immense scalability and integration while delivering an RMR source for integrators, allowing them greater mobility and longevity in the market.”


The global airport security market is full of some of the industry's most innovative solutions and is continuing to proliferate. According to a recent report by The Business Research Company, this market is expected to reach $18.69 billion by 2026.
“As risks have grown, solutions have evolved to meet them. In order to combat threats, there's been a rise in innovative access control technologies that integrate with biometrics, AI, and the cloud to take proactive steps in protecting passengers,” Sturges said.
Frictionless access control and analytics are becoming popular as airports look for convenience and security. As algorithms develop, we may see more AI-enabled solutions entering this vertical.
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