GB_Daryn Flynn
Daryn Flynn
Business Development

In an era where security threats are ever-evolving, and organisations are under increasing pressure to operate efficiently, a data-driven approach to physical access control isn’t just an option – it’s a necessity.

It involves collecting, analysing, and leveraging data from your access control system, so you can get valuable business insights, make informed decisions and automate tasks. This, in turn, can help you increase security and safety, optimise operations, and streamline compliance.

Why? Because the ability to adapt and make informed decisions based on access control data is a competitive advantage that shouldn’t be underestimated. And, internally, it helps you demonstrate to senior leaders and other departments the value of your work in security and the far-reaching commercial payoffs of a data-driven physical access control system.

Of course, as with any data, one of the most crucial steps is planning what data you want to collate. Then, you can design your physical access control system in the best way to generate it. More on that later. But first, let’s look a closer look at some of the key business benefits of maximising access control data.

 

Why should you take a data-driven approach to physical access control?

 

1. Gain clarity and empowerment to make better decisions

A physical access control system can give a great window into what’s happening in your buildings. And the data it generates can reveal lots valuable business insights – from employee behaviour to the use of buildings and resources.

Through customised reports and analysing historical data, you can get clear on trends such as peak access times as well as identify more unusual access patterns. You can then use this knowledge to, for example, adjust office hours, optimise staff schedules, plan how a space is used or what facilities are needed. If data shows most people work from home on Fridays, for example, why not close the coffee shop? Or serve discounted lunches to encourage people to come into the office? And if some areas are rarely used, they can be repurposed or downsized.

While historical data is useful for spotting trends, real-time data is invaluable for increasing responsiveness. When security managers use dashboards displaying current access activities, including alarms and alerts, this real-time data empowers them to act fast. If a guard is alerted immediately when an area’s about to be over-occupied, for example, they can take swift action to stop more people from entering.

2.    Reduce risk to ensure business continuity

The primary role of a physical access control system is, of course, security. And a data-driven approach can help significantly reduce risk and play an important role in designing and implementing your Enterprise Security Risk Management (ESRM) strategy. Because, by continuously monitoring and analysing access data, you can be proactive about identifying and addressing security vulnerabilities.

This is particularly relevant in these instances, for example:

  • Risk assessment: The right data helps you identify areas with heightened security risks more effectively, so you can take appropriate, additional measures. Data can also help highlight commercial risks, such as threats to business continuity or lack of compliance, for example.
  • Dynamic access control: You can set access rights to adjust in real-time based on data such as occupancy levels, a change in someone’s role or other contextual factors.
  • Incident response: If there’s a safety incident or security breach, having accurate access control data can be literally lifesaving. Security teams can quickly determine who accessed each area and when. This can aid emergency services and the investigation and resolution of the incident, while helping to minimise the consequences.
  • Contact tracing: If someone who’s entered your premises is identified as having an infectious disease, you can use data-driven access control data to determine who may have spent time close to them. Then you can help protect business continuity by asking those people to stay at home to prevent the infection potentially spreading.
3.    Increase efficiency to save on costs and staffing

With a data-driven physical access control system, you can streamline operations by automating many access-related tasks. This not only saves time but ensures your access control policies are enforced accurately and consistently. And it frees colleagues to focus on other responsibilities.

A well-designed, data-driven system can also improve the experience for employees, visitors and contractors. By pre-approving guests and issuing temporary credentials, it ensures a smooth flow into and through the building, minimising wait times at access points and the admin involved in gaining access or welcoming guests.

Tracking visitors, contractors, and employees on your premises not only increases security, of course, but creates valuable data for monitoring and future planning. Finance can cross-check whether a contractor was actually in the building during the hours stated on their invoice, for example. And catering can assess how many people typically need lunch on each day of the week.

With increased efficiencies come cost savings. The right access control data and automation can help you reduce overheads by optimising space, downsizing, reallocating staff, minimising manual labour, and more. And this has never been more valuable than in today’s hybrid working world.

4.    Demonstrate compliance to prevent penalties and loss

Increasingly more industries are subject to stringent regulations. And, typically, you need data to demonstrate compliance with your internal policies and external regulations. You can design your physical access control system to generate the detailed access reports you need for auditing and proof of compliance, showing who accessed which areas and at what times.

A data-driven access control system can even help you automate compliance management by enforcing access policies, generating compliance reports, and triggering alerts for any policy violations. This not only simplifies compliance but also reduces the risk of penalties or legal issues – and the financial, operational, and reputational costs associated with that.

If you still don’t believe (though you should), we’ve got an example for you. One organisation that’s already doing all of this is Haus de Digitalisierung. You can check out this remarkable story yourself:

 

Plan the data you want first

So, we can see that a data-driven approach to physical access control brings lots of benefits. But, to reap those benefits, you need the right set-up – your system must be designed in the right way to collate the data you need and implement the automation you want. And, to do that, you need a clear idea of the data you want to capture and report on, and the automations you want in place.

Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Successful People defines one key habit as ‘begin with the end in mind’, and this is so true when it comes to access control data. Otherwise, you run the risk of your system collating lots of data that’s neither useful nor usable – or not collecting the data you need at all.

The DIKW pyramid illustrates the relationship between data, information, knowledge, and wisdom.

 

  1. Wisdom: The ability to apply knowledge and make sound decisions.
  2. Knowledge: The understanding gained from information.
  3. Information: Data that’s been processed, organised, and interpreted.
  4. Data: Raw, unprocessed facts and figures.

To gain valuable data outputs, it’s important to plan the data inputs very carefully. And, to do this, it’s crucial to collaborate with other departments rather than work in silos. Representatives from facilities management, HR, reception and your security team, for example, may all have different wants and needs when it comes to data and automation.

The first step is to identify the right teams, and the right people within those teams, to collaborate with. So you get a full picture of how access control data could be useful across your organisation. And also how you can measure success. Because how do you know you’ve achieved something if you don’t know what you’re aiming for? Definitions let you benchmark for success – and the definitions of success in so many areas can be a form of access control data.

 

How you can get started today

Physical access control rarely operates in isolation – particularly in organisations with more expansive or complex security needs. Nedap Security Management has been developing premium access management technology since 1978, including our AEOS access control system.

While leading the way in access management innovations, we’ve also built extensive expertise in implementations. It’s why we stress the importance of knowing where you want to go before you start your access management journey. We welcome you to also learn more about how you can benefit from clear governance as well:

Now…

Having worked with many large organisations, we’ve seen up close the pitfalls and best practices for implementing access control as the heart of your physical security system. Based on this in-depth experience, we’ve developed our Enterprise Professional Services to support you every step of the way.

But, more importantly, we’ll look at your requirements from different perspectives when it comes to your platform design. Together, we’ll develop your access management environment and infrastructure from the pilot phase to final design. We hope you’ll reach out and start a conversation with us about your access management journey!

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