Smartphone being used for access control

Utilizing Mobile Phones and Access Control

It’s hard to imagine a world without your smartphone. These mobile devices allow you to contact others, set alarms, pay bills, use a GPS and so much more. But did you know that you can also use your smartphone to gain entry to a facility through access control just like you can with a card or fob?

What is Smartphone Access Control?

Access Control is a type of security product that regulates who or what can enter a certain facility, or areas within a facility, and even view resources. Access control can be “logical” when referring to viewing digital resources or “physical” when referring to having access to a building or room. Focusing on the “physical” aspect of access control, a smartphone’s embedded communication technology serves the same purpose as a traditional card or fob credential. It communicates to the access control reader which is connected to a master controller that manages physical access through a portal such as a door or a gate, allowing your smartphone to be the new credential. There are two different types of technology built into most smartphones, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or Near Field Communication (NFC).

BLE Technology

BLE Technology (Bluetooth LE/Low Energy), formerly marketed as Bluetooth Smart, is a widely supported form of technology that is available to all smartphones with Bluetooth. BLE allows for your smartphone to work as a credential if authorized by a reader. BLE technology can work even when your smartphone runs out of data, however, it will not work if the battery is depleted. 

NFC Technology

NFC Technology is openly supported through Android devices and is easily accessed from an Android device control center. Like BLE technology, NFC works whenever the phone is working and turned on, even if there is no data available; however, NFC will not work if the phone is off. When it comes to Apple and iOS, Apple’s operating system, NFC hardware is installed on iOS devices but not currently being used for physical access control applications.

Software Apps

Businesses can also utilize smartphone technology by paying a subscription to a software app provider, which would be used as a credential; some of the apps offered are hosted and stored on the cloud – a virtual server. In the majority of scenarios, to utilize the app, you have to unlock the phone, activate the app and present it at the door or press a button on the screen to gain access. If the user has access to multiple doors, they will need to select the door they want to enter on the app to gain entry.

Why Should You Embrace Smartphones for Security?

Smartphones have become the new norm, with a majority of people utilizing smartphones for more than just making a phone call or sending a text. A facility owner who utilizes smartphone access control for their employees eliminates additional items such as a key, card or fob. Access control using smartphones allows managers a quick and easy way to revoke access if needed, much simpler than trying to get a key back or having to change all the locks.

At LaForce, our Electronic Security Systems team is trained, equipped and able to provide and install access control to meet your facility needs or assist in updating a previously installed system. Contact our security experts today to learn more about access control, smartphones or installing/upgrading your facility’s security.

Special thanks to Rob Russell and Tony Warren, Electronic Security Systems powered by LaForce, for providing technical expertise for this blog.