Pat Alvaro, Country Manager, Canada, ICT explores how mobile credentials are useful for more than just access in discussion with Zeeshan Butt, Co-Founder and President, Mosino One.
The iPhone, the device that reinvented smartphones and revolutionised the way we communicate, has just celebrated its 16th birthday. This means the generation that is about to enter higher education or the workforce has never lived in a world without the freedom, connectivity and flexibility that smart devices offer.
Interestingly, this may lead to an increasing disconnect between those who still need convincing of the merits of this technology (many who are leaders or key decision makers in organisations) and those who are natives and are increasingly demanding smart, mobile experiences.
Get more from mobile
It’s no surprise that mobile credentials are increasingly being used in access control systems as a convenient and secure means of granting access to secure properties of all shapes, sizes and security requirements.
Over the last two years, we’ve seen almost ten times in growth of mobile credential purchases at ICT, while one in five people in the 2022 Physical Access Control Trend Report said mobile access would have the greatest impact on physical access control.
Typically stored on a device such as a smartphone, mobile credentials can replace or reduce the need for traditional credentials such as fobs, cards or keys and provide a more convenient and user friendly experience for individuals accessing secure areas.
A 2019 study showed that 20% of people reported losing their access card or fob key in the last year. Users are much less likely to lose their mobile phone (or lend it to someone else) and are more inclined to report it missing.
While physical credentials can be costly and time consuming to replace, mobile credentials can be easily reissued, revoked or deactivated if a device is lost or stolen, which provides a more secure and flexible means of access control.
Mobile credentials also provide an extra layer of security with built-in biometric authentication methods such as fingerprint scanners or facial recognition on smartphones. Like other types of card technology, mobile credentials can be integrated with other building systems, such as lighting, HVAC and security cameras, for a more seamless, automated experience.
Adding value to access
On their own, mobile credentials are a great way of gaining entry, but what really helps to drive adoption is when we demonstrate the additional value of using mobile credentials in conjunction with other features to extend their usefulness.
There are many other examples of the Bluetooth or NFC (Near-Field Communication) technology mobile credentials use, that are already mainstream; from paying for public transport or your groceries with a smartphone and college students charging meals to their account, through to logging on to a computer or releasing documents to a printer at work.
Bringing this back to a security and access control focus, third parties can access the advantages of mobile credentials built into a unified security solution with the use of APIs or other custom integration tools to integrate with their own technology.
Integrate and innovate
An example of this is Mosino One, a Montreal, Canada-based company that is building smart communities. They use our Mobile SDK (Software Development Kit) and API functions to bring mobile credentials and security solutions into their own cloud-based ecosystem.
Mosino One is a fast growing tech company that started with a focus on multifamily residential. They found that combining a unified security and intrusion platform with mobile credentials for access control and their property management platform provides the perfect mix for their digital concierge, reservation modules and automation suite of products.
Co-Founder and President of Mosino One, Zeeshan Butt said: “By itself, a credential has no idea if it’s for a visitor, employee, a third party vendor or a resident. We extend the functionality that ICT provides so that users can operate in a common and familiar ecosystem.
“Access control systems allow you to assign access for a housekeeping company that is only going to come in Monday and Friday from nine until eleven. But, by linking mobile credentials with other data in our system we can automatically create and issue the mobile credential for a new resident as soon as the lease is electronically signed in our platform.”
The reason why mobile credentials are the perfect match for the Mosino One platform is because they improve customer onboarding and keep things simple so there’s no need to jump around multiple apps. Butt added: “You’re literally competing against physical keys and fobs that you take out of your pocket and tap on something. So, if you make anything more complicated than that, you’re going to lose.”
A lot of the focus on mobile credentials focuses on installation at scale – university campuses, hospitals and large commercial operations. But, as Butt explains, this can scale down to instances of individual apartments: “We did a project with a company that has integrated access, security, building automation and visitor management across different locations.
“The owner of this company then said he has apartments used as short term rental by staff and partners coming in from different countries and wondered what he could do.
“So, we have just deployed one big penthouse apartment with the ICT card reader and mobile credentials; not only do they have control of their business sites, now they can book this accommodation through the app and the same application allows them to unlock the door just by tapping the phone to get in.
“Through the system we also manage the temperature, thermostats, television and blinds. This proof of concept shows the customer how ICT and Mosino One can work together on that smallest level. Now they’re going to deploy this innovative solution to eight different apartment complexes across Canada.”
In Canada, there is a government mandate relating to multifamily retirement homes stating that each management company must have some auditable tracking capability for residents.
Butt explained how they are experimenting with RTLS (real time locating system) wristbands that also include mobile credentials: “The wristband is a tracking device, gives the ability to call a nurse, plus acts as an access credential.
“It’s actually a great experience for aged care multifamily where there’s a huge mandate to improve their current technology,” he continues.
The path ahead
As mobile credential use continues to grow, there is still some tension in the industry about how to apply this technology. Some companies use a subscription model which means the ongoing cost of a mobile credential can add up to more than a one-off price.
There is also an increasing call for the flexibility provided by reusable credentials. These can be added to Apple or Android in-built wallets and allow limited-time access for short term rentals or hotels or visitor access for businesses, before being ‘recycled’ for use in a future instance.
These also give the advantage of using the backup battery power for the wallet to allow access even after the normal phone battery has died.
A continued focus on education is required to convince people of the merits of this technology, which is why it’s so important that security manufacturers go on working together with partners such as Mosino One. Innovations which bring increased usability and reduce friction for customers and end users can only help the cause and increase adoption.
Mobile credentials continue to revolutionise access control and security by providing a convenient and secure means of granting access to secure areas.
With the added security of biometric authentication, the ability to easily revoke or deactivate lost or stolen devices and the cost and user friendly benefits over traditional physical credentials, they provide a future-looking alternative that more and more organisations are turning to.
On top of this, the use of custom integration tools allows third parties to unlock even more functionality and take advantage of the full capabilities provided by ICT’s Protege platform. This brings mobile credential technology to life and lets companies like Mosino One add even more value to their customers with ever increasing use cases.
This article was originally published in the February 2023 edition of International Security Journal. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.