IOT and Smart Buildings – Part 1 of 5

The role of security products in the IoT society

Today, people expect connectivity and convenience everywhere – and with IoT it can be realised.

Today, people expect connectivity and convenience everywhere – and with IoT it can be realised. Photo: Tumisul, Pixabay.

Today, people expect connectivity and convenience everywhere – and with IoT it can be realised. But what role do security products play in the fast-growing IoT society? Detektor has talked to some industry professionals to find out more.

By Henrik Söderlund

Thomas Schulz, EMEA Product Marketing Director, at Assa Abloy Opening Solutions, claims that with ongoing rapid urbanisation and the accelerating adoption of technology, we are seeing people’s daily security and access management routines change in a way that enables them to keep moving freely yet securely. He believes the next step for access control is comprehensive integration of and with building systems, including an increasing number of IoT devices.

“According to our “Wireless Access Control Report”, around 90 per cent of security procurement experts say interoperability has become more important over the last five years and this will continue, without doubt,” he says.

Deliver added values

Jack Lyu, Product Manager of Intelligent Building, Overseas Business Center, Dahua Technology, points out that a traditional building intercom system has security as its main purpose, but in the fast developing IoT society, wireless technologies like Zigbee, Z-wave, etc., intercom devices gradually integrate with peripheral detectors, including light, curtain, audio, home appliances, etc.

”This means in addition to security, video intercom can deliver added values such as better convenience and a smarter home”, Jack Lyu says.

Jaroslav Barton, Director of Product Marketing, Physical Access Control, HID Global, says IoT can make buildings smarter and more secure.

“But ironically, the enormous upside to a robust IoT ecosystem is part of the problem when it comes to security. The broad IoT network has a lot of access points and vulnerabilities, so any IoT device or system needs security and access control, just like the buildings and IT networks themselves have always done”, he says.

Jaroslav Barton refers to a high-profile example of a North American casino, where a fish tank’s internet-enabled thermometer was the point of entry for a devastating hack. Accessing the casino’s network through the thermometer, hackers were able to lift 10 gigabytes of info, including sensitive data on high-roller clients. Jaroslav Barton says:

“The potential benefits of IoT are huge, so that is why it is important to set it up correctly with the right security in mind, keeping devices properly patched and updated and taking steps to increase visibility”.

Face recognition on the rise

How has the pandemic affected the shift towards IoT and smart buildings and cities?

James McHale, founder and CEO of the market research company Memoori, believes it is too early to tell, but the general consensus is that there will be a more hybrid approach towards office work. He says:

“Let us say companies will decide employees can work from home two days a week. That is a 40 per cent reduction in occupancy, and I would say that will definitely have an implication of how much space companies require. And they may never want to go back because they will be saving money”. 

Jack Lyu stresses that with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, touchless access with face recognition is gaining popularity, especially products that combine temperature measurement and touchless access control. He says:

“These products are speeding up the popularisation of face recognition in smart building solutions.”

He points out that traditional verification methods are mostly using cards, passwords, etc., although biometric technologies such as face recognition and fingerprints recognition have been around for many years and various manufacturers have also promoted them, but it is still difficult to realise mass popularisation in many traditional overseas markets, as privacy and security are still a major user concern. The question is whether the pandemic can change this.

Technology for safe workplaces

Jaroslav Barton stresses that the pandemic is a driver for digital transformation across many industries and technologies. And as the world prepares to reopen after a long shutdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, employers are now faced with how they can enable a safe return to work for their employees. For example, by risk assessment, redesigning workspaces to maintain social distances, carrying out more frequent cleaning, managing the transmission risk and finding alternatives to touchbased security devices. There is an increased desire from organisations to implement technology solutions to tackle the challenges that arise from getting people back into buildings safely. He says:

“We’ve seen an increase in requests for a contactless experience in secure workplace access, including automatic doors and turnstiles, contactless cards and mobile access. Contactless technologies can help enforce social distancing and reduce touchpoints on common surfaces like taps, doorknobs, kitchen areas, etc.”

HID are also providing organisations with contact tracing tools. Using beacons and a cloud-based software-as-a-service, the system records when two beacons are signalling from the same zone, which indicates contact between employees. The system records – historically and forensically – who was near whom (and for how long) and if someone then gets ill, organisations will know if they need to close off a certain area for deep cleaning rather than quarantining a whole building.

Note: This editorial article has primarily been produced for the security trade magazine Detektor in collaboration with

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