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Originally published in Interiors & Sources

05/31/2013

The Case for Smartphone Credentials

Learn how digital keys are opening doors

By

 

Need to unlock a door? There’s an app for that. Your smartphone can now store a digital credential that replaces physical keys, access cards, and ID badges. Launch the app and a smart reader will verify your identity data.

Barriers to Adoption
Much like contactless payment with your debit card, mobile credentials remain an emerging technology that is slowly being tested by early adopters.

For example, because mobile carriers control access to the secure element on phones, manufacturers must work with providers to create a backend infrastructure that facilitates the data transfer so credentials can be stored securely.

But the ease of implementation may ultimately rest with your building occupants.

“You need to evaluate what percentage of your population uses smartphones,” Earles stresses. “Not all smartphones are NFC-enabled either, though you can retrofit some models with a special NFC case.”

At present, carriers such as Android and Blackberry include NFC, but the iPhone has yet to adopt it.

You may want to test out the solution using a targeted group of individuals. If your FM team is already equipped with smartphones and tablets, a digital credential could be an ideal way of pooling all of their keys into one spot.

Dialing the Future
Despite their small market share, mobile credentials are on their way. Whether you switch today or bide your time, keep an eye on your security infrastructure now.

“If you’re doing a technology overhaul with your credential system, deploy options that will allow you to migrate to NFC in the future,” recommends Boriskin. “You don’t want to install readers that can’t adapt down the road.”

Look for smart readers that can verify different credential types. These often use MIFARE Classic, an open architecture protocol that verifies multiple sources of contactless authentication and encryption. This is particularly important if you want to incorporate biometrics as well.

Will digital credentials come to replace all physical keys and cards? The answer depends on if you can envision a future where everyone carries a smartphone.

Whether you’d like to gamble on that scenario or not, you can put your money on digital identification becoming just one of many access control options your occupants will come to expect.

“There’s so much we can do with NFC,” Earles adds. “We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface and see how big the ecosystem can really be.”

 

Jennie Morton jennie.morton@buildings.com is associate editor of BUILDINGS.

 


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