Scanning the Benefits of Biometrics

10/30/2012 | By Jennie Morton

Is the investment worth the cost?

Biometrics offer building owners a scalable solution that reduces many of the inconveniences of traditional access control, such as undocumented access, ID swapping, credential replacement, and manual badge checks.

Advancements in biometric technology have improved performance and reliability and lowered costs have made these options affordable beyond high-security applications. Read on to learn about emerging uses for biometrics.

The Basics of Biometrics
Biometrics have long been used by the law enforcement community in the form of fingerprints, but digitizing personal identification data has paved the way for broader use in commercial and institutional settings.

Keys, ID badges, passwords, and codes are effective security measures, but they can also be replicated, stolen, lost, or forgotten. The possibility of human oversight can cause a hassle at checkpoints, or worse, create an opening for someone to replicate the credential and gain access.

A biometric ID is tied to a physical characteristic that is unique to the carrier – the geometry of a palm, the shape of an iris, or the pattern of a fingerprint. Using this data for access control is more secure because it requires the individual to be physically present when authenticating – unlike a password or a badge, biometric markers aren’t transferable.

“Using biometrics as part of an integrated identity management system is more reliable and cost-effective as it eliminates the problems of having multiple identities tracked over disconnected access points,” says Phil Scarfo, senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing for Lumidigm, a biometrics solution provider.

Biometrics can be deployed in a number of building areas as well as easily integrate with your existing security systems. Some of the most common applications aren’t used for the general population, but instead grant access to a select group for a specific area within a facility.

You can use biometrics to tighten up security by:

  • Restricting sensitive healthcare areas, such as medical supply, surgery suites, maternity wards, pharmacies, and office areas
  • Approving IT professionals to access server rooms
  • Preventing non-essential employees from accessing to storage rooms, docks, basements, mechanical rooms, and service corridors
  • Strengthening dorm safety by eliminating tailgating and piggybacking from swapped IDs
  • Improving the usability of hotel key cards
  • Gaining better control over secondary entrances

“If access control systems are to control where people, not credentials, can and cannot go, then only a biometric device truly provides this capability,” stresses Emily Flink, associate product marketing manager, readers, credentials, and biometrics for Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies.

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