Mobile credentials: Trusted identities

A guest commentary on transforming how people move through buildings and interact with systems and services
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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Today’s buildings are getting smarter while the people inside them are becoming more mobile and connected. Trusted identities bring everything together, helping to secure, customize and enhance the user experience in today’s smart buildings, empower the occupants to do more there with greater efficiency, and deliver new capabilities that embrace the power of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The industry is going through its largest wave, to date, of global enterprise upgrades to access control technology that adds a new level of trust to identities on cards and mobile devices. The latest technologies enable companies to connect and secure their people, buildings and operations in ways that enhance the workplace experience while improving efficiency and productivity.

As companies upgrade to these new solutions, they are starting by deploying mobile-ready Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) readers that support a combination of physical ID cards and mobile IDs on smartphones, as well as older card technology during the transition. Some organizations are moving directly to a mobile-only ID model to open doors, connect to networks, and interact with smart buildings and services, while others are laying the foundation for adding these capabilities in the future. The initial impetus for upgrades is typically a desire to replace earlier lower-security ID cards. However, organizations quickly embrace the robust capabilities of advanced smart card technology and mobile IDs on smartphones as they begin equally focusing on adding multiple applications to a single credential for a more efficient, connected and enjoyable workplace.

Among the most popular new applications is energy management, combining access control and the IoT to help facility managers more efficiently control HVAC systems. As people use their smart cards or smartphones to enter or exit a suite or common area, their trusted identities are used to automatically adjust environmental settings. Trusted identities are also used with proximity and real-time location services so organizations can analyze room usage in real time to improve building management and operational efficiency. This capability also enables organizations to confirm when personnel are near a given area for use cases like automatically logging employee check-ins and check-outs, and for managing room occupancy to comply with health and safety regulations.  

Another emerging application leverages the combination of mobile devices, cloud authentication services, and trusted tags that are affixed to company assets. This trio of technologies streamlines and improves the efficiency of secure cloud maintenance management software (CMMS) applications. Technicians simply tap the tags with their mobile devices to authenticate to and access the CMMS application, acquire all necessary information, and perform all tasks in a trusted, closed-circuit authentication environment.  This model is also ideal for “proof of presence” applications like Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) in the healthcare environment, where the combination of trusted tags used with mobile phones and cloud authentication services makes it easier to document the time, location and accurate delivery of prescribed care.

Across these and other applications, trusted identities significantly improve the user experience. The latest solutions enable users to carry multiple secure identities on a single card or phone for a growing range of applications beyond physical access control. They can tap their card, tablet or laptop for authenticating to a network or application—a capability that may be possible in the future with smartphones, too.

Solutions that combine BLE credentials with other enabling technologies will enable a smart card or phone to be employed for booking meeting rooms, auto-configuring audio visual equipment and sharing user locations in real time for emergency mustering and safety alarms.

Many other capabilities will emerge as trusted identities are increasingly used in ways that are contextually aware, continuous and truly seamless. Moving forward, trusted identities will become the key that opens every door, connects us to cloud-based applications and controls our environment.

Julian Lovelock is VP of product deilvery in Quantum Secure.