Blogs & Articles
The Many ‘Faces’ of Access Control
May 17, 2021

Most travelers like to leave the airport once they land, with plans to see their family and friends, or to head to a work meeting. 

That was not the case for Aditya Singh, a 36-year-old man who allegedly lived inside O'Hare International Airport in Chicago for three months before he was caught. 

According to a news report, Singh arrived at O’Hare’s Terminal 2 on a flight from Los Angeles and stole an airport operations manager’s misplaced credentials. He was reportedly too afraid to fly back home due to concerns over COVID-19, so he lived in the airport’s secure area, using those stolen credentials. He had high-level access, before two United Airlines employees confronted Singh and asked to see his ID card. The gig was up, and he was arrested.

*Related News: ABC7 Chicago; Man caught living in O'Hare for months.

Access control is a vital component of a security solution for airports, schools, retail stores, manufacturing facilities, and enterprises, ranging from the largest global corporations to single-location businesses. 

Access control allows a security team to know who an individual is, where they are going (or have been), and when. An effective access control solution system can give someone the ability to enter or exit a facility, and when that can take place, if at all. (It didn’t work in the case of Aditya Singh, but from news reports, there were other forces in play!)

There are many and options and “faces” to access control, and it’s important to select the right solution for your security team to effectively mitigate risks.

A basic access control solution involves a security officer(s) and mechanical locks and keys. Locks and keys are still used in many enterprises, but unless they are used with a key management system, you won’t get a record of the key that is used on a door. In addition, keys can be copied or transferred without permission. And when a key is lost, the door locks must be re-keyed.

Physical access systems, including barriers, turnstiles, and revolving doors, also are commonly used, although they require a physical presence to avoid issues such as tailgating and piggybacking.  

An additional and widely used solution is electronic access control, which grants access based on presented credential. Movement of people can be controlled, based on set criteria, by authenticating a person’s identity using passwords, an identification card, and more, including biometrics.

Biometrics technology with access control not only authorizes access based on a set of parameters but is also more secure since it involves your fingerprint, which is a unique and unrepeatable characteristic in each person. In addition, it has a low maintenance cost because keys or ID cards do not need to be issued.  

Taking it a step further is facial recognition. While it is not uncommon for access control users to lose their ID cards, your face is you; it never leaves you, and you can’t lose it, which makes facial recognition one of the more accurate types of access control solutions available today. According to a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST), the failure rate for searches for a matching face is 0.2% using facial recognition technology. Some facial recognition solutions adjust to lighting, making it possible to authenticate users from a dark room and outdoors.

There are ways to address concerns about the data that is stored with facial recognition technology– face images can be encrypted to irreversible templates for storage, and secure data protection measures and personal information management system should be in place to ensure compliance with international regulations.

In today’s COVID-19 pandemic, where we’re all focused on body temperatures, thermal cameras with facial recognition are being used in multiple industries and applications to slow the spread of the virus, due to their ability to quickly and accurately detect external skin temperature and the presence of a fever.  

Contactless Access Control systems are vital to protect all facilities from unauthorized entry and to secure people, property, and assets. It’s important to examine your risk levels and to consult with a manufacturer who will ensure that the access control technology that you choose is best for your situation.