Getting Clients to Buy Into Biometrics

Increasingly, hand readers are helping end-user organizations complement or eliminate key and card systems. Find out where the technology is in widespread use to better understand what market niche opportunities are available to you.

If access control systems are to manage where people – not credentials – can and cannot move about, then only a biometric device truly provides this capability.

Biometrics technology, especially hand geometry readers, is increasingly showing up in access control systems where there are needs for heightened security. Data centers, which continue to proliferate and where security is critical, exemplify such a customer. Other vertical markets where biometrics devices are commonly deployed are casinos and college campuses. Even the use of biometrics at U.S. military bases overseas illustrates the potential for wider application in a variety of susceptible environments.

End-user concerns, such as privacy issues and even hygiene, are frequent topics of discussion installing security contractors can expect to address with customers. Knowing what education to provide your prospects, and where the technology is in wide use, can help you identify and land new business in your region.

Securing Sensitive Areas

Typically larger data center installations (think Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, IBM, etc.) use biometric hand readers at the entrance, on the security corridor and on the individual customer areas of their data facilities. Administration of the system is performed by software, which includes features tailored for this type of application. Among them, import/export and remote enrollment for multifacility management, and expiring privileges for temporary access.

These hand readers interface to most access control panels and can be configured to control a lock independent of a panel. To provide a visual reference of an actual biometrics deployment, the online version of this story includes a link to a short video tour of the facility at El Segundo, Calif.-based Equinix, a provider of carrier-neutral data centers and Internet exchanges. Here, you can check out how biometric hand readers provide an important layer of security.

Gaming is another market niche that is progressively utilizing biometrics. Casinos will typically place hand geometry readers at the main cage, at satellite cages and at mantrap areas. Individuals gain access at these specific points with the hand reader, then can be additionally verified with a camera before being allowed through the door. At the slot operations area, networked hand readers can be tied into a key box – a key management system designed to prevent lost or stolen keys. Instead of using the key box’s keypad, the casino will use the hand reader for stricter access.

Among other application examples to consider, U.S. military bases in the Middle East are utilizing hand readers as well. The devices, which are not affected by dust, dirty hands or minor injuries, are housed inside a custom portal and used to ensure only authorized individuals access base camps. These portable, turnkey access control portals are plug-and-play, fully integrated security systems. To install, military personnel simply set the unit in place and plug it into 220V power in a junction box. Since the units are transportable, the military can establish a “moving perimeter,” which is widely used in base construction.

“When they finish with one site, they can simply pick up the portal and move it to the next site,” says David Slagel, president of Ironton, Ohio-based Modular Security Systems Inc. “For the military, it represents zero construction process. They used to spend $80,000 to $100,000 rebuilding these ‘brass shacks’ each time the perimeter changed.”

Using the portals is also easy. Military personnel enter the portal through one of five roll-up doors. They walk up to the entrance and present a proximity card and then present their hand to the hand reader. If the device’s light illuminates green, they are allowed entrance through the turnstiles. If a red light is emitted, an alarm is sounded that alerts a guard who can then investigate accordingly. These portals also eliminate concerns about the identity of the cardholder or tailgating, in which someone simply follows an authorized person through an access point without proving their identity.

“The proximity card in combination with the biometric identifier virtually eliminates both of these security-compromising practices and establishes a higher level of security,” Slagel says.

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