Biometric door locks and access control security for your building

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Biometric security systems overview

Once an emerging technology, biometric security has quickly grown into a top security measure used by businesses and organizations around the world. In 2020 alone, leaders in the technology industry increased their spending on biometric technology by over 50%. In addition to the technology sector, another more specific industry that especially benefits from this growing technology is the access control industry. For properties like government facilities, healthcare locations, corporate offices, and campuses, biometric access control provides a valuable layer of protection to a business’s information, people, and property that traditional access control systems like passwords, PIN codes, and key cards can fall short in. In this guide, you’ll learn more about biometric access control, how it can be used in your business to better protect your property, and if this technology is right for your organization.

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How biometric security and access control systems work

At its core, biometrics refers to the measurement of a human characteristic such as a fingerprint or retina. Biometric authentication records and stores the measurements to automatically recognize and authorize a specific user based on these matching measurements. When combined with access control, this technology can provide businesses with robust security measures thanks to the use of a unique identifier that cannot be replicated easily. Biometric access control systems may use unique characteristics like fingerprints, facial features, retina, or voice to allow entry to certain properties, buildings, or rooms.

Leverage biometric security with Openpath’s solutions
  • Remote property management from anywhere in the world

  • Simple-to-use software meeting network compliance requirements

  • Easily paired with award-winning Openpath security hardware 

  • Scale down or scale up your security with a click of a few buttons

  • Automatic updates happen in the cloud to avoid on-site maintenance

  • Frictionless integrations with leading video and analytics providers

  • 24/7 customer support with troubleshooting right in the cloud

The benefits of biometric access control for your building

The best biometric security technology is one that’s convenient to use, easy to manage, and one that’s easily scalable for any organization, big or small. Biometric technology can be found in existing leading technology, such as access control software that utilizes mobile credentials with biometric authentication. Many smartphones from Apple and Android use biometric measurements, such as a fingerprint or face identification scan, to record and authenticate the user before unlocking the phone. Openpath is an example of a software solution that leverages this built-in biometric technology for door lock applications. See the many benefits of biometric access control and solutions that leverage this technology below.

More secure than passwords and PINs

Biometric door access control systems are, by and large, a more secure tool than assigning and using passwords or PIN codes for your organization or business. While biometric technology isn’t necessarily perfect in accuracy (especially when used in real-world conditions), the technology is constantly evolving and improving—and is still much more secure than traditional passwords. Passwords and PIN numbers can easily be shared, lost, or stolen, allowing an unauthorized user to enter and move through restricted areas. 

In addition, a best practice for security—whether it be cybersecurity or physical security—is to have multiple layers of authentication in place. This is important in the case that one layer, such as a lost or stolen passcode, is compromised, ensuring that there is another measure in place to protect your property, people, or information. According to LastPass’s 2019 Global Password Security Report, 57% of businesses globally are leveraging multi-factor authentication, up 12% from the previous year. With this in mind, pairing another authentication method such as a key card credential or passcode can make biometric access control extremely secure and nearly impossible to breach. Utilizing a keyless door entry system such as a fingerprint scanner or facial recognition measure is a great first or second layer of security for any commercial building.

An access control solution like Openpath can help you take advantage of the security benefits found in biometric technology. In Openpath’s cloud-based Control Center, managers can easily adjust their property’s Entry States, allowing building managers to require multi-factor authentication to allow access through specific doors. By choosing to only allow interactive two-factor authentication mobile access in the Control Center, your organization’s users must have a PIN code, biometric, or similar protection on the home screen to trigger an unlock request. By utilizing the built-in biometric technology used in smartphones, Openpath’s mobile credential utilizes a strong layer of biometric security that’s easy to implement in your business or organization’s security framework.

Added convenience for employees, managers, and security team

While the COVID-19 pandemic progressed, biometric technology adoption grew as businesses looked toward touch-free, flexible access methods for employees. 

Over the past few years, more organizations have looked toward implementing flexible access methods for employees. Using biometric access devices is more convenient and straightforward for the employees and managers of a property. Since there is no need to issue hard-to-remember passcodes, card keys, or key fobs, users won’t have to remember a specific code (or, write it down in an unsecured place) or need to carry around a physical item that can also be lost or stolen. This also takes an additional responsibility off building managers or security teams—there’s no need to create, keep track of, or revoke physical credentials. 

When paired with an access control software solution as flexible and scalable as Openpath, biometric security measures can be simple to manage. From reviewing valuable, customized data of failed entry or authentication attempts, to frictionless integrations with leading surveillance systems for businesses, identity services, and analytics dashboards, a cloud-based software solution like Openpath can make leveraging and learning from your biometric access control much more straightforward—and insightful—for your team. 

For organizations and security teams looking to leverage biometric technology through an easy-to-integrate service, consider Openpath’s integration with the powerful software solution Kognition, which combines convenient access control with smart AI-powered video security. With Kognition, organizations can utilize smart facial recognition to identify repeat users and potential threats, use front door ID verification instead of a physical badge or reader, and receive smart analytics to understand how the property is being used.

Cost-efficient in many cases

While biometric security measures have the reputation of being a costly form of security, some solutions implement this same technology without the need to install your own commercial fingerprint door locks or retina scan locks. With access control solutions that utilize sought-after biometric authentication, businesses and organizations of any size from any industry can implement this technology across one or many properties without upending their existing security system.

One of the benefits of Openpath’s access control solution is the ability to use mobile credentials as an alternative or additional means for authorized entry into a property, building, or specific room. Openpath’s mobile credentials can leverage the biometric measurements like fingerprint scanning and facial recognition already available on leading smartphones like Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy products, allowing for a much more secure, multi-factor authentication.

Openpath’s flexible cloud-based solution can easily integrate into any new or existing security system, allowing you to bypass a more costly and extensive installation process for biometric tools. 

Additionally, the use of an entry system that’s free of any key cards or fobs can ultimately save your business money in the long run, especially if your organization has a large number of employees that need access to your property or properties. Physical cards and fobs can become a costly expense if you need to issue a great deal of them due to an increasing workforce or high turnover rate at a corporation. They can also easily get lost, stolen, or damaged, resulting in additional costs for replacement and additional security risks in case these physical products get into the wrong hands.

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Types of biometric door locks

While you can use different measurements for biometric lock doors, they all work similarly in storing and matching unique data. The key variables of different types of biometric entry systems may include installation or set-up, software management, security budget, or efficiency of use for your organization’s employees, visitors, or customers.

Fingerprint door lock

A fingerprint is one of the most distinctive attributes among humans, making it a useful tool for biometric identification and authentication. Fingerprint access control systems analyze the distinctive ridges and valleys of a fingerprint, recording this data and matching it with the correct user to allow an authorized entrance. To gain access to a room or building, a user must scan their fingerprint on a fingerprint or thumbprint door lock, which quickly reads the thumbprint and scans the access control system for a matching print. If a registered match is found, the user is allowed in, which makes this biometric entry system both reliable and convenient for security teams. You may see a fingerprint scanner as part of a biometric time clock for small businesses or large corporate employers to authenticate individuals and record their attendance and working hours.

Since every human’s fingerprint is virtually unique, it is very difficult to replicate a fingerprint and use it upon scanning to breach a room or building. While it is technically possible that your fingerprint can be copied and used to bypass a fingerprint door lock, it is a complex crime that isn’t as probable as other breaches into your building such as passcodes being shared or forced entry occurring with weaker doors or windows. While fingerprint technology can be highly accurate, acceptance or rejection failures can occur depending on real-world conditions. Still, fingerprint scanning is extremely convenient for businesses to implement and use, making it a common biometric access systems option for organizations.

Companies like Apple use this technology to bolster security for users, using a unique “Touch ID” to record and match a fingerprint on record, allowing a user to unlock the phone. Samsung also uses a fingerprint sensor on its lineup of smartphones that users can set up in place of a passcode. Organizations can utilize this fingerprint entry system for their physical security with an access control solution like Openpath that uses mobile credentials to authenticate users for specific locations or rooms.

Facial recognition door lock

Similar to fingerprint recognition, facial recognition technology captures unique data points of a person's face through the use of a deep learning algorithm, creating a record that can be later matched. With optimal lighting and positioning conditions, facial recognition systems can be extremely accurate in recognizing and authorizing users. While changes in human characteristics such as evolving skin texture in instances like aging can affect the system’s accuracy, facial recognition accuracy remains high across the board, making it a top choice for organizations or properties requiring high security measures.

A facial recognition door lock system can instantly match up your facial scan to the one on record, allowing you entry to specific buildings or rooms if authorized. Commercial face ID door locks allow for a completely touch-free entry experience, a top feature that’s become a popular addition in commercial building security systems in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Openpath leverages this facial recognition authentication by the use of built-in smartphone technology. Many of Apple’s iPhone models feature facial recognition—or Face ID—that can be used to unlock your smartphone as a more secure alternative to a digit passcode or password. 

Retinal scan lock

A retina scanner door lock is triggered by a matching record of the unique patterns of a person’s retina. This kind of retinal scan door lock uses an infrared light that can’t be seen by the naked eye, making the unique blood vessel patterns of a person’s eye apparent for easy scanning. Similar to fingerprint and facial recognition, the retinal scanner door lock can be highly accurate in recognizing and authorizing the right users, making it another security alternative businesses and organizations implement into their security framework.  

Iris scan lock

Similar to a retina scanner lock, an iris door lock takes a quick scan of a person’s eye to authenticate a user and allow entry. However, there’s a key difference in iris scanning technology: an iris scanner inspects the iris, or the colorful part of the eye, recording these specific colorful patterns as the identifying characteristic. Iris scanning is another extremely accurate and secure method of authenticating someone’s identity, making iris lock systems a choice for organizations or businesses that require robust security measures.

Voice recognition

With biometric voice recognition, systems record then later identify and match the distinctive biological characteristics of a person’s voice. Access control is not a common use case for voice recognition—you may see this technology more commonly used for additional authentication for customer service calls for organizations like financial institutions. Voice recognition is more secure when paired with another authentication method. Real-world conditions might affect the accuracy of this biometric technology, including natural differences in voice tone when an individual is sick, aging, or another factor. 

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Biometric entry system considerations

Installation time and costs

At a glance, commercial biometric door locks can be among the most expensive security technology considering you’ll need to physically install some of the newest, most advanced security products on your property.Depending on the type of biometric access control you decide upon, whether it be eye scan door locks, fingerprint reading door lock, or a facial recognition tool, your cost can significantly vary. You’ll need to consider how many entries you’ll want to install biometric access control for, too—the more entry points, the more extensive and costly the installation process will be.

Maintenance of your biometric equipment is another key cost factor. Regular management, cleaning, and software or network updates will be necessary to keep the products running accurately and smoothly for your team. If your security team doesn’t have a member that is knowledgeable in managing or maintaining biometric technology, you may need to hire a biometric security contractor to assist with this task (which may be an additional cost to your organization).

Privacy concerns

As biometric technology becomes a more prominent technology, U.S. states are continually expanding their privacy protections to include biometric measurements. As laws continue to evolve, it’s important that commercial businesses and organizations consistently monitor these changing compliance requirements to ensure they’re meeting state and federal privacy codes. 

Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act is the first of its kind, requiring businesses using biometric technology to inform consent prior to biometric data collection and prohibit profiting from biometric data, among other rules protecting Illinois residents. Many other states are following suit, including California, which expanded its California Consumer Privacy Act to include biometric information in the protection of all other personal information. With this in mind, commercial organizations must consider these privacy laws and ensure they comply with any federal or state laws when using biometric technology. 

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Is biometric door access control right for your organization?

Before choosing between an eye scanner lock, a fingerprint scanner, face recognition, or other biometric access control, review the following key questions to help you make an informed decision:

  • Does your business or organization have a need or requirement for high-level security like biometric access control?

  • Is your business constantly creating and revoking key cards or fobs due to a large workforce or high turnover? Is this operational cost large enough to consider more convenient access solutions like biometric access control? 

  • Is your business ready to invest in the installation, maintenance, and management of a biometric access control system? Or, does your existing system support seamless integration with biometric security systems?

  • Will your organization require a biometric security company to help with the management, maintenance, and repairing of your biometric technology? 

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