Using Access Control To Fight the Spread of COVID-19
Workplace managers across the globe, and certainly here in California, are starting to try to figure out how they can safely reopen their businesses as COVID-19 lockdowns ease, and they are being encouraged to get their employees back to work.
One of the biggest challenges is how to implement best practices preventing the entry of possibly COVID-19 infected individuals into their offices. While they can keep an eye on their own employees via things like temperature checks and access to testing it’s much harder to tell whether visitors may have been exposed to COVID-19, and are therefore perhaps putting those employees at risk. Masks help, but we all know that they are far from a perfect solution.
While access control security is generally the first line of defense in preventing unwanted human entry, until biometric sensors are sophisticated enough to perform instant disease detection, it’s not an option for preventing virus invasion. However, when integrated with identity management and visitor management systems, today’s access control can play a significant role in reducing the spread of contagion.
A Reminder of the Basics
The most obvious preventative practices are simply urging employees to wash their hands often with soap and water and simply emphasizing that employees stay home when sick, notifying the office if they do contract the virus.
But even if an employee or recent office visitor contracted the virus and followed the self-isolation advice of the CDC, an office manager would still want to know when these now-infected individuals last entered the premises, where they traveled inside and potentially who they met. The ability to effectively trace their presence and identify other occupants who potentially crossed their path provides a whole new level of digital forensics to aid prevention.
Integrating Access and Identity
This is where an integrated system of access control, visitor management and identity management could save time and potentially lives by providing HR and office managers with an accurate of record access for individuals in a workplace over a specific period.
Identity management serves as the authoritative source where an organization stores its employee information including network authentication, authorization, roles and privileges across a system or enterprise with the goal of increasing security typically under the IT or Cybersecurity umbrella (think login credentials, tools & database access).
When access control and credentials are integrated with identity management, the combined system records a history of the physical presence for any specific employee. On any given day, you can know if an individual entered a building, an elevator, a specific floor, even a particular room with enough reader placement.
Tracking Contagion Path
This is powerful data for an office or property manager to quickly identify other occupants who may have been exposed so, while respecting confidentiality, they can be instructed to get medical testing and stay at home. For an enterprise organization, integrated identity management and physical security can even scale across multiple buildings, states or regions to trace an individual’s steps within a building portfolio.
If access control is integrated with a visitor management system, the same tracking capability can be used for a visitor or outside consultant granted temporary access to the workplace for a one-time meeting or short project assignment.
The visitor is given a bar-coded “credential” tied to their contact information for entering approved spaces during pre-set time periods. This extends the data-based forensic capabilities beyond the employee base to all individuals accessing the premises.
While we may never see a day when a physical security system can identify and prevent the entry of a person carrying an infectious disease, we can use currently available smart technology to help reduce the risk of spread.
This is one very real, very current example where connecting HR / IT systems with physical security is advantageous, but there are many more use cases where the value is clear.
Leading access control providers like Data Installers, manage physical security for commercial properties, offices and multi-family buildings across our service area, and can help you create a system like the one we just described. Get in touch with us today to learn more.