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Alongside a versatile security solution, the health and safety of all tenants ranks highly in the list of top concerns for modern organizations. According to a study by Con​sul​tan​cy​.uk, around 75% of managers and employees prioritize health and safety above all else. 

The need for building entry systems that are dependable, secure and hygienic has risen in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As door handles are among the most frequently touched surfaces in any property, removing physical contact to doors can further strengthen safety. 

Access control systems have evolved a great deal in recent years, but how exactly do advanced touchless entry systems work? 

What is touchless access control?

Touchless access control is a form of building entry point management that does not require the user to physically touch the reader or door handle to gain access. A touchless door handle or touchless door knob can be integrated to work with different types of credentials, including proximity cards, biometric indicators and app-based controls, with none of these methods requiring physical touch to unlock doors.

Commonly, touchless access control unlocks doors, but still requires users to touch a door handle to gain entry. Advanced systems, however, can automatically open doors and create a truly touchless entry point system.

The benefits of a touchless access control system

Regardless of the type of touchless access control utilized in a commercial or residential property, these types of keyless entry systems can provide building owners, staff, residents and guests with a number of distinct benefits:

Touchless entry systems are convenient

For the user, touchless access systems provide unmatched convenience by removing the need to carry physical keys, which can be easily lost or shared with unauthorized users. Automatic door entry systems often only require a smartphone or other mobile device to gain access. Users are less likely to lose their phones, rather than keys, and operators can save on the cost of creating physical credentials. 

Touchless doors are hygienic

By utilizing touchless access control systems, staff, residents and guests can entirely remove the need to interact with high-touch surfaces like door handles to drastically reduce the spread of germs, bacteria and diseases. This can help to save costs on hygiene resources like sanitizers.

Touchless access control is secure

Touchless credentials are much more difficult to duplicate than physical keys and are far less prone to being misplaced or stolen. Audit trails can also be implemented to provide time- and date-stamped records of building access. 

Touchless access is easy to manage 

Credentials for touchless access systems can be issued, revoked and managed using remote-access dashboards and control functions, allowing security teams to easily oversee building access, develop visitor management systems and tie access events to wider security features like commercial security camera systems and alarms.

How do touchless entry systems and touchless automatic door openers work?

Touchless access control components

There are different technologies that can be used to operate a touchless access system. However, most touchless access control systems contain these four components: 

  • Access credentials: This type of credentials commonly come in the form of key cards, mobile apps and biometrics like facial ID, allowing users to gain access without physically touching doors. 
  • Wireless credential reader: Depending on the credential used, wireless credential readers vary in the method of granting access to users. For example, some are motion activated, while others require users to interact with an app on their smartphone. 
  • Control panel: A computer connected to the access control door reader and used as a centralized hub for the access control system. This is where all credentials are stored and verified.
  • Release mechanism: Connected to the control panel, this mechanism will unlock the door when credentials are accepted. Some systems can be connected to touchless automatic door openers that will automatically open doors in response to verified credentials. 

Using a touchless access control system

With a touchless entry system, the user will present their credentials in proximity to a door-mounted reader. This information will be sent to the main control panel where the data will be compared to a preapproved database of valid user profiles.

If the credentials match a stored profile, a signal will be sent to the release mechanism to unlock, and in some cases, to open the door. If the credentials are rejected, further integrations can be programmed to alert security teams or activate additional security features.

How Avigilon Alta touchless access control works

  • Unique Wave to Unlock feature works without opening the app

  • Fast, secure entry with patented Triple Unlock technology

  • Automatic entry detection makes it easy to unlock the right door

  • Instantly control access and unlock on any device, from anywhere

  • Easy to install and integrate with your existing security system

Different types of touchless entry credentials

Touchless access control systems are quickly becoming a popular choice for entry point management, with reports suggesting that around 33% of businesses have implemented touchless systems in some capacity, and a further 32% have plans in place to use this technology in the future.

For businesses and organizations interested in implementing automatic door entry systems in their building, it’s important to understand the differences between each type, as some touchless access control systems may be more appropriate for use in certain applications.

Wave to unlock door systems

Wave to open door access systems are entirely touchless entry point solutions that operate through a combination of user hand gestures and Bluetooth technology. A capacitive sensor installed next to the door will be configured to sense hand gestures up to a few inches away. This motion is used to activate an authentication system which will begin searching for credentials via a Bluetooth signal.

Credentials are commonly stored in the user’s smartphone, which can reliably communicate with the door-mounted reader. Once the authentication system is activated, the reader will attempt to match presented mobile credentials to an approved set stored within a database. If credentials are accepted, a signal will be sent to open the door.

App-based touchless doors

App-based touchless solutions are similar to wave to unlock systems in that user credentials are stored in a smartphone. However, rather than using a hand gesture to activate an authenticator, the user is required to interact with the system by tapping a button in the app to unlock doors. 

To unlock the touchless door knob, users must open a mobile app and press a button on the screen. This will send a Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or cellular data signal to the reader containing the user’s credentials. These touchless door access systems can also be further strengthened by using the built-in biometric readers already present in modern smartphones, allowing users to take advantage of multi-factor authentication to improve security.

Proximity card touch-free door opener

This type of reader is the most traditional type of touchless access control, with devices operating via RFID technology and radio signals. Users are issued personal RFID access control credentials in the form of an card or fob, which must be held in proximity to the reader to gain access.

There are two types of proximity card readers. In an active system, the reader will be permanently powered, allowing for an uninterrupted signal that can be accessed from a greater distance. On the other hand, a passive system will only activate in response to an RFID chip in close proximity.

Biometric touchless control doors

Biometric touchless access systems commonly rely on facial recognition software to grant or deny building access, with an optical reader installed next to the door. Users will simply face the camera, and a control system will compare their unique facial structure to a set of pre-approved user profiles.

Biometric systems are incredibly convenient, as the user is not required to remember or carry any physical credentials. As biometric data is very difficult to duplicate, these touch-free entry systems are among the most secure, and often used to protect high-security locations and data.

Touchless automatic door entry systems

The installation and operation of fully automatic touchless entry points can help to reduce liability, improve hygiene standards, and provide staff and visitors with a more convenient method of gaining building access. However, replacing existing doors in some situations may be too costly or disruptive.

For this reason, property owners may wish to consider upgrading existing electrified doors by installing integrated touchless automatic door openers. Automatic door opening systems allow for the removal of all contact points used for access, creating a touchless system fully compliant with workplace and ADA standards.

How a touchless automatic door opener works

An automatic door opening system is typically installed on the existing electrified door and is connected to contactless access control readers and a main relay used to enable communication across the hardware. When a reader successfully verifies credentials, a signal will be sent to the touchless automatic door opener, causing the locks to disengage and the door to open. This is also known as frictionless access control.

These devices can be connected to a range of touchless access control readers and operate in response to several credential types. Further integrations with motion sensors will enable touch-free access to low-risk areas, and integrating the system to automatic alarms can warn staff of intrusion events.

Touchless door entry systems use cases

Apartment buildings and multi-tenant housing 

Residential properties that see large numbers of tenants moving in and out can benefit from the simple issuing, monitoring and adjusting of touchless access credentials. Issuing non-physical credentials reduces the costs associated with managing physical keys and ensures that all access events are recorded for use in audit trails.

Privileges can also be adjusted to grant all residents access to communal areas while barring access to private locations, such as staff offices. Time-based locks may be applied to main entrances and temporary credentials can be issued to guests, contractors and couriers.

Commercial offices and businesses

The installation of touchless access control for commercial properties can help alleviate the workload of security teams while providing staff with a more convenient method of entry. Many commercial access control systems can feature time-based locks can be used to ensure the property is locked and secured outside of working hours. Visitors can be issued temporary credentials and additional readers can be installed as the business scales.

Touchless access systems can work with multi-factor authentication, such as smartphone-based fingerprint scans, to secure high-risk areas like server rooms and cash-counting areas. 

Healthcare environments and accessibility 

Touchless access control can be implemented as part of healthcare security systems to reduce the spread of germs, bacteria and diseases in controlled environments. Touch-free access control eliminates the need for medical staff to interact with any surface to gain entry to patient’s rooms and wards, and access to these areas can be easily tracked by admins.

Touchless entry systems like touchless door handles and touchless door knobs can also improve accessibility for disabled individuals, removing the need for users to interact with difficult-to-reach door handles and helping property owners to create ADA-compliant environments accessible to all members of the public.

Touchless access control and door entry system best practices

When implementing touchless access control systems, property owners are advised to follow best practices to ensure that their systems are easily managed and operated, as well as easy to use:

  • Choose a cloud-based operation: Choosing a cloud-based access control system allows teams to remotely administer credentials, apply automatic updates and easily scale the network as the organization grows.
  • Utilize a management software: With management software, security staff can observe access events and system uses to gain valuable insights into how the property is utilized.
  • Explore additional touchless systems: Wider property functions like light switches, elevators and HVAC units often benefit from touchless controls to help improve usability and resource management.
  • Update and educate system users: As new protocols and integrations are developed for the system, property owners must ensure that all users have access to a regularly updated resource detailing important requirements, functionality and policies.

Upgrading an existing access control system to a touchless access system

Touchless entry systems present a convenient and safe way to enhance the staff, resident and guest experience in a building. Touchless access control solutions can also help property owners future-proof their operations, better manage wider physical security features and create a hygienic and accessible environment for all users. If you need help in choosing the right touchless access control system for your business, consult a touchless entry system expert today. 

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