Access control is defined simply as ‘the selective restriction of access to a place or other resource’. Smart access control is generally defined as a combination of ‘traditional access control’ (i.e. with keycards/software or metal keys), with ‘smart controls via the internet’ (i.e. with cloud-based software, smartphone digital keys, data analytics etc.)
Smart access control also has different definitions and implications depending on one’s perspective.
From a regulatory perspective, smart access fosters meeting state and federal Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) requirements, especially regarding tracking employees’ arrivals and movements around sites; company reporting requirements; insurance implications; meeting compliances for protection of machines/devices that store or process data (e.g. meeting PCI compliance for credit card processing); meeting Critical Infrastructure Act requirements (security of critical infrastructure)
From a Property/Facilities Managers perspective, smart access provides enhanced security, access control, and more efficient key management leading to cost and time savings.
From a customer perspective, smart access will offer more convenient access, better safety and peace of mind.
Regardless of the perspective, any company that operates out of at least one physical building, must address regulatory expectations, in addition to addressing staff and customer expectations regarding safety and access.
For example, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and health insurance companies need to comply with HIPAA health data regulations regarding controlling physical access to rooms/cabinets that hold patient’s folders/data and medicines.
Banks, insurance companies, and any business that accepts and processes credit cards are subject to PCI credit card data regulations regarding restricting access to the public to computers/servers that house this information. SaaS providers, data centers, or any company hoping to maintain SOC2 cybersecurity standards and any business that deals with privileged data and intellectual property, such as software developers, entrepreneurs, startups, and pharmaceutical companies need to not only control who comes into their facilities, but which areas they are allowed to access.
Regarding staff safety, employers have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their employees in the workplace, and they must set the protocols and make sure the workplace is in compliance with regulatory standards. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘employer duty of care’ responsibility. As part of this duty, your boss, by law, has the right to know where you are, and the work environment must be secure.
Employee location tracking on its own can provide improved worker security and safety, especially when managing evacuation procedures during an emergency. In addition, tracking worker locations can enable many other workplace applications with a wide range of benefits including improved productivity increased safety, and reduced costs. For example, productivity can be improved when it becomes easier and quicker to move around different sites and locations; increased safety can occur by restricting public and staff access to specific buildings/rooms/sites; and reduced costs for example, can result from not making staff drive across town to pick up metal keys to access multiple sites.