Access Control: Are Your Clients Prepared for Smart Cards?

Clear benefits and features are driving the transition of many markets to one-card solutions

Near Field Communications (NFC) technology is now being added to a growing number of mobile handsets to enable access control as well as many other applications. Over 285 million NFC-enabled smart phones are expected to be sold in 2013 and over half the phones sold in 2015 will be NFC-capable. Existing aptiQ™ 13.56 MHz smart card/multi-technology readers are already compatible with the new NFC technology which allows users to deploy their own smartphones as their credentials to enable secure access into their facilities. When NFC-enabled phones are available, those using such readers won’t have to replace their present smartcard/multi-technology readers.


Hospitals: A Natural Fit

A hospital employee carries a magnetic stripe card with two barcodes on her lanyard. In addition, she must remember two different PINs and has a proximity card in her pocket for the institution’s other facility. That is because, if we review the typical access control system in use today, it was installed in stages. As a result, it is comprised of different brands and disparate products, many of which do not integrate into the same system or talk with each other.

 Too many of today’s systems require many separate databases and a plethora of software interfaces that create confusion, lower the level of security within the facility and decrease staff productivity for the customer and the installer. Not only are such scenarios cumbersome for the employees, they drive the physical access control management crazy. And, on the horizon sits the IT department, becoming more and more prevalent in access control hardware and software purchases — IT won’t put up with it.

As a result, it is much more efficient, economical and secure to have the teaching hospital’s employee carry a single smart card that provides a variety of applications, including her biometric template. It can provide her access to the areas of the hospital to which she is authorized, including the biometrically-secured pharmacy, as well as access to many other hospital applications, making her job easier, adding to her productivity and helping the hospital become more secure. The same would be true if she was a student or staffer on the campus proper or worked in an office building.

At the hospital, smart credential technology offers a way to significantly reduce administrative costs while maintaining or increasing quality of care and customer service. It helps hospitals achieve better patient identification, securely storing various identity credentials (such as a PIN, photo or biometric) directly on the card and making it very difficult to forge or steal the credentials on the card. Smart credentials provide hospitals with administrative efficiencies, cutting down the time for admissions by providing ready access to accurate, up-to-date patient information and linking a patient to their medical records to reduce medical errors. They provide similar benefits for other types of organizations.


Jeremy Earles is Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies’ Portfolio Manager for Credentials and Readers. He can be contacted at Request more information about IR by visiting