The Barriers of Adoption In Biometric Physical Access Control

This is week two of Physical Access Control Month here at findBIOMETRICS. Right now the major discussion in security of this kind is what adoption barriers face vendors and enterprises alike.

Last week we touched on this briefly: there are some common issues that are keeping these two parties apart, each one a demand from the organization wanting better security, and each one a focus of companies trying to provide the necessary biometric upgrades that can protect critical areas.

Let’s take this time to delve deeper into this major topic of discussion.

Security and Convenience

The promise of biometrics in every deployment is one of balance. The need comes from the demand for better, more accountable security, and the conditional statement that inevitably follows is something like “…but it can’t be too taxing,” or, “Only if it doesn’t require much more work.”

This is at the heart of biometric security adoption. By their very nature, biometric physical access control solutions are more secure than the security systems of previous generations. The benefits of a biometric security system or time and attendance solution are apparent by design: unlike a key card or fob, OTP token or PIN, a person’s face, finger, palm or eye can’t be compromised by means of forgetfulness, time fraud or theft.

The obstacles come in when convenience is added to the needs side of the equation. Every organization that fancies itself worth protecting is going to want a biometric upgrade, but it needs to be feasible on a number of levels.

Show me the money

The bottom line is always going to be justifying the expense of a security upgrade. All obstacles eventually boil down to one thing: financial cost. Any upgrade to a building’s infrastructure is going to put a strain on an organization’s pocketbook.

Thankfully, innovations in biometric technology have made this once-futuristic security more affordable than ever before. Biometrics are going mainstream, with everyday consumers using them for personal security, and this means savings for organizations that want better protection.

Easier said than done

Once the financial commitment has been made, there comes the obstacle of end user friction. Sure, you have a better security system that can keep employees and authorized personnel accountable, but can they use it with any sort of efficiency?

The solutions are going to be new to the user who still sees biometrics as a thing of science fiction, it is important to be sure that they aren’t seeing the technology as alien.

A lack of efficiency costs money in the long term, and this obstacle boils down to two things: education and ergonomics. How easy is this going to be to teach staff to use? Will they be able to successfully learn the new authentication process and embrace it as making their lives easier too?

The IT Crowd

Of course, the real cost is going to come down to the people left managing the physical access solution. This is the technical part, filled with small barriers.

How easy is user on boarding? When staff leave a company, is negating their credentials easy? Will the installation and management of terminals, cameras or card readers be accessible from the point of an admin, or are they going to need to constantly be calling in a physical support team?

These obstacles can be removed with a robust customer service team on the provider’s end. Yes, technically an organization has only purchased a product, but in the end physical security is much like a service, especially when the technology is new.

The Solution Providers

The role of a physical access security solutions provider is becoming more and more active as the market grows and biometrics become more pervasive in everyday life. Two excellent examples of companies actively attacking the above described barriers are Zwipe AS and EnterTech Systems (U.S. operating partner of Suprema Inc.).

EnterTech attacks each obstacle on a case-by-case basis. Through Suprema, the company can offer a wire range of fingerprint readers, each optimized for different uses and at a number of different price points. They are all managed through EnterTech’s BioConnect application which streamlines the management of credentials (and even supports smartphone as credential technology too). The company also takes quite a bit of pride with its customer service offering, ready to aid system admins in need.

Zwipe on the other hand attacks these barriers in a single swoop: with its biometric access card solution, the deployment starts and ends with rolling out the product. It is backwards compatible with contactless card readers, and all of the biometric functions happen on the Zwipe device itself. It’s a low cost, low upkeep solution that doesn’t require much of a change on any end other than the degree of security.

Regardless of the method, these barriers of adoption are becoming more and more important in the physical access control arena. When reading about a new solution they should be in the front of your mind.

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