Exclusive: Access control solutions and COVID-19

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Ross Wilks, Head of Marketing Communications at Vanderbilt International discusses how the company has adapted its access control portfolio.

COVID-19 presented a challenge to communities and businesses and changed the way we think about access control solutions. Access control began to fill a health and safety gap that focused on helping implement social distancing and temperature detection while keeping things like customer comfort and convenience in mind. For instance, our access control products, like ACTpro and ACT365, were able to help tackle the issue of social distancing. This was done by focusing on managing and auditing occupancy levels. Overall, Vanderbilt applied numerous access control solutions that were aimed at getting businesses back up and running safely. Let’s take a look at the solutions we helped deploy:


Bluetooth enabled smartphones offer a valid form of contactless access control. They also provide a remote method of deploying new cards or credentials with no physical unit.

Touch-free push to exit buttons operate on infrared technology, allowing doors to be opened without touching.

Using secure Bluetooth readers and credentials means that people don’t need to get close to the reader at all to gain access. In fact, they can shake their phone from 10 metres away to gain access. In addition, they have their credential securely sent to them without having to visit the ID administration centre.

Rules mapping engine

Let’s examine the ways that access control solutions can make customers feel comfortable about their health and safety while they are shopping. ACTpro can be used here by retailers to manage occupancy thresholds. This will ensure customers feel safe once inside a store and can comfortably social distance from other shoppers.

ACTpro’s rules mapping engine offers a method of counting and limiting access to certain areas. Operators can enable a maximum occupancy level to prevent overcrowding within a building or in an area. These systems can provide live data and trigger alarms in the event of an occupancy breach. This live data will enable organisations to take proactive decisions to prevent overcrowding and enforce social distancing effectively. This will also allow security operators to evaluate which areas of a building are vulnerable to overcrowding. This is done with live statistics, including heat and path maps, people count reports, zone breakdowns and alerts of congestion and bottlenecks. A red light or red and green lights can be triggered to show when people can enter. Simple as.

More so, this same methodology can be used within the rules mapping engine to provide an alarm when certain thresholds are met to alert cleaning staff. This ensures that active doors are regularly cleaned, adding an extra level of comfort to a customers’ shopping experience. A building supervisor can set thresholds on different areas in the building to alert the cleaning staff when areas have reached the level when they need to recleaned. This takes the guesswork out of where needs to be cleaned.

Contact traceability reporting

Importantly, should retail owners ever have to contact staff or customers concerning contact tracing, this can also be easily achieved using Vanderbilt’s ACT365. Contact traceability reporting is a new feature that Vanderbilt added to the award-winning cloud-based access control and video management system during the outbreak. Contact traceability reports enable organisations to monitor areas or zones where an individual has either a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19. The report allows security operators and administrators to identify and notify those who may have come into contact with an infected individual by reporting their movement throughout the building. Security operators can review the movement of the subject of interest by determining what zones, doors and areas they have come into contact with. This data is enabled using credentials being scanned by access control readers in the building. Users could then be sent a push notification, prompting them to get tested if they have encountered an infected person.

access control
Ross Wilks

QR codes

QR code systems offer a convenient and cost-effective method of maintaining order and flow. Moreover, they have proven to be easy to use, not only for system users but also for end users. All you need is your mobile phone with the QR code generated in ACT365 and a QR code reader, such as the ZKTeco QR500, available from Vanderbilt from late August.

After scanning the QR code, the reader sends the unique data captured in the code to the service provider. If the data in the code links up with the QR code reader’s data, it grants access to the individual who scanned the code. QR codes are generated directly from ACT365 cardholder page with validity periods, it allows for a more secure and controlled environment as only a system operator can create the temporary QR Code in ACT365 and grant access to specified individuals.

Furthermore, as the user is using a mobile device, the system is on hand and avoids physical contact with any devices. And of course, the issue of QR codes is electronic, thus avoiding one to one interaction with security operators.

Mask and temperature detection:

Lastly, one of Vanderbilt’s major adaptions during the outset of COVID-19 was the induction of Facial Recognition Terminals with Temperature Detection by ZKTeco into our access control portfolio.

These products are touchless technology that enables skin temperature measurement and masked individual identification during facial and palm verification at access points. They interface with Vanderbilt’s ACTpro and ACT365 systems via a Wiegand output.

Through this touchless technology, skin temperature acts as the credential, thus making this a pivotal addition to the Vanderbilt portfolio during the outbreak.

The terminals have a read range of 0.6F/0.3C accuracy at 18 inches. They have a straightforward and intuitive interface to set temperature thresholds and collaborate with the environment around them. Protocols can be set to prevent access if a mask isn’t being worn, or if the temperature of the visitor is above the threshold.

Facial recognition capability has reached a new height in the biometrics technology industry. For example, the terminals that Vanderbilt added to their portfolio contain a maximum of 30,000 facial templates and up to 5000 palm templates, depending on the model selected and a recognition speed of fewer than 0.3 seconds per face.


Ultimately, the goal of deploying these access control solutions was to help tackle health and safety concerns. Overall, I believe that the Vanderbilt access control portfolio proved itself to be versatile and reliable during the height of the outbreak. In the coming months, we aim to continue providing our customers with smart and reliable strategies to help create a safer environment for staff and visitors. For additional information, simply visit www.vanderbiltindustries.com.

This article was published in the September 2020 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital copy on the link here

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