Access control systems are essential for offices, but for much more than security and access. Brivo, the pioneer in cloud-based access control, has just published its “Top Security Trends in 2022” report, revealing some amazing and essential insights about the modern office. Partner Insights spoke with Tim Norris, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Brivo, about the growing status and ever-increasing usefulness of modern access control.
Commercial Observer: What were some of the most significant findings from Brivo’s “Top Security Trends in 2022” report?
Tim Norris: There are two main headlines: the first is that hybrid working is here to stay and is changing the way organizations are adapting their workplace. We are done with the days of simply closing the doors and keeping people out. Access control now enables a host of hybrid capabilities in the workplace. The second main headline is that access control data has become more common. This year, the #1 goal for security leaders has been to figure out how to use and leverage this data. It is a much stronger sentiment this year than in previous years.
Were there any findings in the report that surprised you?
We’ve been hearing a lot lately about offices downsizing. But the report found that 72 percent of organizations expect no changes to their office space in the future. Only 18 percent said they were looking to reduce their footprint and 10 percent were looking to add space. This was contrary to the early idea that office space is destined to cease to exist now that everyone is working from home. Now that they are transforming to a hybrid model, where the office is more for meetings, security leaders need to figure out how to use and leverage this data.
More than 60 percent of survey respondents said access control systems are essential to creating a successful hybrid work model. Why are they essential for this?
We need to see access control as the fourth utility. You need water, air conditioning and electricity in your building. But you also need access control to manage how people enter and move around the space. When we think of the hybrid work environment, there is no longer someone sitting at the front desk watching everyone come and go. Access control is much more critical in how we manage offices remotely. It is essential to incorporate elements such as video and to be able to see who passes through these spaces connected to an access event. The second part of this is all the aspects that are connected due to the hybrid work environment: integrated workplace management systems, desk reservations, conference room reservations, etc. We’re seeing an increase in offices installing an access control reader and lockout in a conference room where maybe that didn’t exist before, because it’s now associated with a reserved time that someone scheduled through the venue management system of work. So access control really brings together many components of the hybrid workplace and expands its role within an organization.
In addition to what you’ve already mentioned, what are some other desirable or much-needed features that occupants are looking for in these systems?
We are seeing increased demand for mobile-first experiences. People use their phones for everything. Why shouldn’t they use their phones as a credential to access the building or manage a building remotely from their phone? And then there’s data usage. There’s a lot of underlying data about what’s going on throughout space.
When we think about a hybrid environment and understand the utilization of space, there are trends that can be discovered about the facilities that are now available with access data information. We’re seeing many of our customers start using this data with our data exploration tool provided as part of Brivo Access to gain insight into their own space usage trends.
The use of this data extends beyond security teams and provides insights into energy management, facilities management, human resources and more to help them understand and optimize how space is used.
How good are current access control systems at facilitating data access?
I would give many access control systems a rating of D or below because data is simply not in their DNA. It is not part of the vernacular. That is what makes Brivo unique. We’ve built our Brivo Access platform from the ground up to harness the power of data.
Data comes to life in two ways within Brivo. One is that we use data visualizations to compare trends within specific spaces day over day or week over week. We’ve also integrated a business intelligence tool within the product itself so organizations can drill down into specific access events. We’ve made using this data so easy even a marketer can do it. You don’t need a Ph.D. in data
The second way we use data is analytics that simplify access control. In November 2021, we launched something called Anomaly Detection, using neural networks from all of our customers that examine and understand the behavior patterns of every accredited user within that account. Over time, we began to automatically detect things that are out of the ordinary and flag them with a priority alert for security. Of the 10,000 or so events happening within my facility, I really need to prioritize about 10 per day because something was out of the ordinary. We take analytics from the data and present it in a way that helps security professionals be more effective and efficient at exposing blind spots.
Why is migration to the cloud considered an essential and increasingly desirable component for access control systems?
Brivo is unique because it was born in the cloud more than 20 years ago. We established the category and are the leader in the cloud-based access control space. As for drivers, there are a few simple reasons why organizations are making the switch. There is no more dependence on servers. SaaS models allow for flexibility, where organizations can move to more operating expenses, or OpEx, versus major capital expenses, or CapEx. Organizations can now trust the vendor to manage the application of the software, including automatic updates, security patches, and more. All of these considerations are really important from a cloud perspective.
On the other hand, cloud-based access control opens up more opportunities to integrate with a broader ecosystem. For example, with hybrid working, we’re seeing a lot of demand for integrations with access control and workplace management systems, which are cloud-native. These cloud-to-cloud connections through application programming interfaces, or APIs, are faster to integrate and deliver solutions to customers in a much more agile way.