Making smart buildings safer with trusted ID solutions (Reader Forum)
Thousands of people pour into and out of high-rise office buildings each day, and each must be kept safe and secure. Two of the most significant challenges in accomplishing this are guard tour management and ensuring that all fire and safety equipment complies with inspection and maintenance regulations. Trusted identities can be used to automate and improve both processes.
Guard management is a three-part problem. Keys must be tracked, guards must visit all their checkpoints as efficiently as possible, and there must be a process for auditing billable contractor hours. An identity solution that combines trusted Near Field Communications (NFC) tags and a cloud-based authentication system can be used to automate each of these processes, integrating key management, security patrol, and contractor services into a single solution. The resulting system enables secure proof-of-presence with frictionless authentication while delivering more accurate and actionable information in real time. It also can be deployed using an organization’s existing IT infrastructure along with standard NFC-enabled smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.
To implement an automated key management solution, an organization can use trusted NFC tags to provide unique identities to keys. The way the system works is straightforward: To check out a physical key, a user first taps a tablet or other mobile device with the trusted NFC tag and enters an authorized identity. The user is then notified when the key is due to be returned and again taps the tablet to check it back in. Automated key management significantly reduces the amount of time and resources spent managing and replacing lost or stolen keys. Organizations can account for each key in real time, and they have access to the historical issuance and return activities so they can better understand which keys are in most demand.
Connected guard tour and contractor management
To manage guard tours and patrols, various tag formats must be placed at each patrol checkpoint throughout the building, and heavier-duty tags can be used to designate outdoor checkpoints. From there, guards merely tap each checkpoint visited with their NFC-enabled smartphone. The system identifies each checkpoint by name, and automatically uploads timestamp information and updates databases in real time, providing digital proof that a security patrol took place at the proper location, and at the appropriate time. Alerts can be triggered if too much time passes between checkpoints. If a guard encounters an incident, the smartphone can be used to generate a detailed report, including photo or video evidence, and to escalate activity, when needed, according to protocol. A simple tap is the only training required to ensure effective system deployment.
Automated guard tour management makes it possible for guards to deliver more timely and detailed reporting while reducing how long it takes for each security patrol. Facility managers currently using these systems also note improvement in the management of their contract employee partners. Using a similar “proof of presence” system for contractors has resulted in more precise, auditable time and attendance, and ensures facility managers are paying only for services rendered. Contractors are guaranteed fair compensation for the work they have completed. Reports detail all necessary information about site visits and activities, providing management insight along with substantiation for contractor invoices.
Streamlining fire & safety inspection and maintenance
Similar efficiencies are realized when trusted tags and authentication platforms are combined with Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) to simplify fire/safety equipment inspections and compliance. With these solutions, those tasked with equipment maintenance and compliance can ensure that physical objects like water valves and various sprinkler equipment can transact securely to provide “proof of compliance” and “proof of presence.” This enables field technicians to easily respond and record each inspection digitally, in a secure and trusted cloud environment.
To use these systems, a technician simply taps his or her smartphone or other NFC device to a tag that has been embedded or attached to the piece of fire or safety equipment. Each tap provides digital proof of each inspection report and provides the technician with easy online access to service requests and automated maintenance records. The same tap also verifies the identity of the field worker or technician and ensures that the person’s skillset or credentials align with the qualifications needed to service specific equipment and that the correct field worker is maintaining that piece of equipment.
There are numerous benefits to this type of system. First, it automates the maintenance and inspection process, reduces field inspection time, and accurately reports proof of compliance, resulting in quantifiable cost savings from a reduction in labor costs. Additionally, work orders are completed faster, and there is an overall reduction in the number of onsite visits. Both of these benefits help increase total cost savings. Tags can perform in a variety of environments without compromising readability and are flexible enough to adhere to multiple types of surfaces, shapes, and sizes, including metal and rounded objects like alarm and control valves.
Demand is growing for cloud-based authentication platforms that add trust to “proof of presence” applications to enhance building safety and security. Facility managers can accurately track security checkpoints and instantly dispatch guards for instant response to and reporting of fraudulent activities throughout the building. Security guards can patrol areas more easily and efficiently with automated patrol stops that replace manual sign-in processes. Organizations can also tag fire and safety equipment to connect it to the Internet so that technicians can use their mobile devices to tap the tag and access cloud-based CMMS applications, track activities, and automate all of the previously manual processes involved with making sure these assets are ready for an emergency. From every guard checkpoint to every piece of fire & safety equipment, trusted tags and cloud authentication platforms help make buildings both smarter and safer.