How can I ensure my access control system is kept hygienic post lockdown?
27 April 2021
Keeping hygienic when using access control systems after lockdown
With home and remote working being the norm during the pandemic over the last year to stem the growth of the virus there is now a real push to return to the workplace as we are starting to come out of the other side and for all the right reasons, they will be returning to a world that is more hygiene-obsessed than it has been in decades. That is for good reason, because they read and hear about the success of the vaccine roll out and the return to normality no business wants to cause a surge of cases or have any of their employees exposed to the potential possibility of catching and further spreading the virus. What we know is that touching any surface can conceivably get somebody sick.
When staff return to their offices, hygiene, cleanliness, and safety will be paramount. Workers will want to lay hands on as little as possible, especially surfaces that are known to harbour viruses, such as door handles, employers will want to minimise staff concern.
The good news is that touchless entry technology has finally caught up to its promise. Facial recognition systems, for example, have become highly accurate at identifying individuals whose photos have been entered into a database; a tilted head or a new pair of glasses will not affect the technology. The technology has also become much more affordable and can often integrate with existing access control infrastructure, rendering tear-outs or rebuilds unnecessary. Moreover, the current technology includes detection of “live” faces and will not be tricked by headshots.
Fingerprint, vascular, and hand geometry technology has emerged that does not require users to place their fingers on a platen, they can present their hands or fingers near a reader without touching it. Voiceprint technology is also improving, and retina and iris scanning remain viable approaches for certain applications. They are not completely passive technologies, however. The user must do something, such as speak or put their eyes or hand near a reader.
That still leaves the issue of how to open the door once it is unlocked. Automatically opening doors are an option, but they add cost, increase maintenance and opportunity for malfunction, and must be programmed to open and close slowly so as not to injure anyone. And a slowly closing door invites tailgating, undermining the purpose of access control in the first place. There are touchless push to exit button that are readily available but the doors themselves still need to be opened once unlocked.
So how best to open a door in the most sanitary fashion in touchless systems?
For inward-swinging doors, the user can push open the door with a shoulder, forearm, elbow, or even an object in their hand. It gets more complicated from there. Doors that swing either way are dangerous unless they are transparent, and organisations likely won’t be replacing their doors with glass counterparts en masse. An outward-moving door must be pulled to open, to keep from touching the handle, the user would have to use a paper towel, napkin, glove, a shirtsleeve, a jacket, or some other item. One approach would be to keep paper towels and a trash pail on the side of each door that swings inward. Or towels can be forsaken for hand sanitiser on the other side of the door.
Another way through this impasse would be to issue staff a hook-like handheld device that can be used to pull open doors. A user could enter through one or more doors, then clean the device once they get to their desk or other destination. Several variations of this kind of device are now available on the market.
Thinking through how to keep an access control system completely touchless used to be the province of germaphobes and some techies. In just a few months, the touchless feature has become arguably the second most important element of access control—after security. Access control manufacturers, systems integrators, and security consultants are all reporting increased demand for and interest in touchless systems. And the technology is here as are many options to implement such systems.
If you are interested in an Access Control system, Contact us to speak to our experts and find out more information.