Overcoming Objections When Selling Biometrics

Biometric devices, such as iris scanners and fingerprint, voice verification, and hand geometry units are expected to be the wave of the future. Integration with card readers or other access equipment alleviates initial skepticism.

Toddlers today have some tough choices. Perhaps the most difficult of those choices is which color to grab from the Crayon(r) box and use to scribble on the wall. In the past, there was red, blue, yellow and green. Now, there’s also maroon, teal, green-blue and the list continues to more than 300 combinations of the primary colors.

Though that may be a tough choice, it’s certainly a plus to have a more diverse selection from which to choose. Thus, the access control market is becoming as diverse as the colors in a Crayon box.

The quest for non-defeatable security and the desire for more high-tech gadgets to “play” with has resulted in technological advances that offer more choices in access control than ever before.

There are biometric devices, such as iris scanners and fingerprint, voice verification, and hand geometry units, as well as thermal imaging recognition systems. There also is old faithful-the access control card. All of the units can be used to control doors, elevators, parking lots, gates, and just about any other function that needs controlling.

Because biometric devices are new on the market and the technology is unfamiliar, they meet with a bit of skepticism from end users. Sure, the functionality and high level of security offered by biometrics are intriguing, but will anyone buy it?

Today, it’s somewhat expensive, appears to be intrusive, and the newness of the technology makes us fearful of unreliability. Here is some information about available biometric technologies and some hints for countering objections.

Biometric Units Meet With End User Skepticism

First, let’s look at the definition of biometric. It’s the same as biometry, which is the statistical analysis of biological observations and phenomena. Related to the security industry, it basically means to identify and grant access to a person by his or her unique characteristics.

The most unique characteristics of every person are found on the finger, the palm, the iris or in the voice. The signature also is a distinctive way to identify a person. The problem with identifying someone by a human characteristic or body part is people get uncomfortable and perhaps even concoct a “big brother is watching you” theory. Others are excited by the addition of another “color” to the box of access control equipment, but they’re not convinced the technology is reliable. Here are a couple objections and how to get past them:

Sell a biometric device as an add-on to a current system. A biometric unit is just another electronic means of verifying authorized personnel for access. For instance, Joe Masciocco, president of Security Integrations in Albany, N.Y., has installed an IriScan system in a warehouse application. “The warehouse has a vault that contains tissue samples, which is very high security. We just connected the iris scanner to the system as if it were a card reader,” says Masciocco. The system also includes several proximity card readers. According to Masciocco, the Software House system presumes the iris scanner is a card being swiped. It sees the iris code number, verifies one of the 18 authorized persons and records the time and date of entry. Only about 2 percent of Security Integrations’ business is biometric access. As the security coordinator for the Department of Public Works in the city of Baltimore, Howard Glashoff, is in charge of security for more than 90 city buildings and 9,000 employees. He has had voice verification units from VoicePrint installed at several main entrances, mostly to track usage during the night. “At night, in some of the buildings, everyone enters and exits through one door only and that door has a voice system on it,” says Glashoff. “A card system has two major flaws: the card can be stolen or given to someone else and if the card is forgotten, the employee has to go home to get it,” he says. “With voice, if they know their name, they can use the system.”

Use the “Star Trek” analogy. Biometric technology is as ahead of its time as Star Trek was when it began. “When you’re in the security business, you have to keep an open mind,” says Glashoff. “There are new ideas every day, and the minute a new mouse trap is built, the old one is antiquated. So, you have to stay ahead of the game.” Some of Masciocco’s clients include doctors, lawyers and accountants as well as high-tech laboratories and computer rooms. “Our biometric customers want the latest, greatest, sexiest device that meets high security needs,” says Masciocco. “They want something James Bondish.”

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