In 2016, less than 5 percent of organizations used smartphones to enable access to offices and other premises. By 2020, Gartner, Inc. said that 20 percent of organizations will use smartphones in place of traditional physical access cards.
“A significant fraction of organizations use legacy physical access technologies that are proprietary, closed systems and have limited ability to integrate with IT infrastructure,” said David Anthony Mahdi, research director at Gartner. “Today, the increasing availability of mobile and cloud technologies from many physical access control system (PACS*) vendors will have major impacts on how these systems can be implemented and managed.”
PACS technology is widely deployed across multiple vertical industries and geographies to secure access to a wide range of facilities (buildings, individual offices, data centers, plant rooms, warehouses and so on), ensuring that only entitled people (employees, contractors, visitors, maintenance staff) get access to specific locations.
Mobile technology is already widely used for logical access control. Phone-as-a-token authentication methods continue to be the preferred choice in the majority of new and refreshed token deployments as an alternative to traditional one-time password (OTP) hardware tokens. Gartner projects that the same kinds of cost and user experience (UX) benefits will drive increasing use of smartphones in place of discrete physical access cards. Smartphones using technologies and protocols such as Bluetooth, Bluetooth LE, and Near Field Communication can work with a number of readers and PACS technology.
One of the easiest ways to use a smartphone’s access credentials is to integrate them — via a data channel over the air or via Wi-Fi — into the access control system (ACS) and “unlock the door” remotely (just as an ACS administrator can). This approach requires no change to reader hardware.
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