ICT's Mobile SDK Takes Mobile Access Control Mainstream
We’ve all felt the disappointment of leaving our keycard at home, or the anxiety of losing it somewhere. Despite this, you never hear anyone say, “I’d be lost without my fob”, but these days no one goes anywhere without their phone. Integrating mobile credentials for access control on a smartphone app is an easy way to help people overcome one of life’s annoyances.
Many businesses have developed an app to add value to their product or service offering. The ICT Mobile Software Development Kit (SDK) is a valuable tool for combining access control functionality with an existing app, using ICT mobile credentials.
By providing access to our mobile APIs and services, we make it possible for developers to build integrations allowing third-party apps to access and transmit mobile credentials for use with ICT readers and access control systems.
And good news: the SDK has been updated to support Android 12!
An Overview of Smartphones and Mobile Credentials
The move towards a smart mobile world continues to gain pace. Today, more than 3.6 billion people - almost 50% of the world’s population - have a smartphone. From being just a communications device, use has exploded to include things like cameras, health tracking, GPS location and mapping, games, making 15 second dancing videos, and finding life partners (thanks Tinder). People are so used to having their smartphone with them, they become anxious when it’s not within reach.
Despite some issues around overuse and privacy, people continue to integrate smartphones further into their lives. This trend will likely continue with the increase in other ‘smart’ devices. A connected Internet of Things allows people to control lighting remotely, answer the doorbell while they are at work, or even talk to their fridge.
There has been a big uptake in mobile credentials recently. At ICT, we saw over 225% growth in the last year alone, and according to recent reports by IPVM, mobile credentials are now the preferred credential type by almost 10% of integrators (up from 0% in 2018). Locations as diverse as universities and office buildings are moving towards mobile credentials, driven in part by a new generation of users that demand the convenience their smartphone delivers. They’re used to paying for things with Google or Apple Pay, and some already have the option of using a mobile drivers license. People don’t see the need to carry an extra card of fob when they always have their phone on them.
As more and more daily tasks move into the digital world and onto smartphones, there has never been a better time to take advantage of this by taking your access control system mobile.
Most mobile phones have NFC (Near-Field Communication) and Bluetooth® Low Energy capabilities embedded in them. This has enabled the development of mobile credentials for access control. While this technology isn’t new, widespread adoption in smartphones is still relatively recent.
At their most basic level, NFC and Bluetooth are wireless data transfer methods that work in a similar fashion to legacy keycard technologies like Wiegand, or the current 13.56MHz industry standard. Beyond this, NFC and Bluetooth are quite different technologies, despite being grouped together thanks to their common uses for mobile access control.
Overcoming Barriers to Adoption
Some people are reluctant to implement mobile credentials. Most complaints aren't about the actual technology, but more to do with limitations set by access control manufacturers or workplaces.
These reasons include:
- An ongoing fee or subscription charged by some manufacturers.
- The purchase cost of mobile credentials.
- The inability to move credentials from one phone to another.
- Some workplaces (particularly federal institutions in the US) don’t allow the use of mobile phones.
ICT addresses many of these issues:
- Competitive one-time pricing means no ongoing subscription charges for mobile credentials.
- Mobile credentials can be cheaper than cards or fobs.
- A simple process to transfer a credential if the user loses or replaces their phone.
By using the Mobile SDK and pairing an ICT mobile credential with an NFC & Bluetooth enabled tSec reader, the third-party app can communicate with a Protege GX or WX secured property to enable access control. Or use the Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) to utilize an existing compatible controller, meaning you don’t have to rip and replace your whole system.
Use Cases for Mobile Credentials
It's simple to incorporate access control into an existing or newly developed app thanks to our mobile SDK.
Offer an all-in-one solution for accessing the facilities. Users can scan in directly from the same app that they book classes, update their membership, and view the schedule.
It’s simple for landlords and building managers to revoke access at the end of a tenancy with no need to follow up to get cards back. Tenants don’t have to juggle multiple keys or cards and can access their home, common areas, elevators and vehicle gates from one app. And everyone benefits from the increased security by removing the ability to clone cards.
Mobile credentials bring ease of access for staff and a streamlined onboarding process for HR or security with the issuing of mobile credentials via email. Improve your mail process with smart lockers and keep up with the increase in personal parcels received from online shopping. Reduce downtime and keep employees' items safe, so they can collect items at the end of the work day.
Grant access to authorized areas, display a digital student ID and allow students to pay for their meals, in addition to standard features like class timetables, grades and maps.
Integrate meeting room booking with access control. Easily issue and revoke credentials for a more transient workforce. Manage safe capacity in the flexible working environment.
Integrated into a subscription based carparking application, the mobile credential could be used to access facilities located around the city or state where the subscription covers.
The opportunities are endless – perhaps giving delivery drivers access to custom built lockers to streamline the process at a restaurant.
Or automatically issuing and revoking access in conjunction with a contractor management system.
Why Implement the ICT Mobile SDK?
We have already mentioned some of the advantages of an ICT solution including:
- Competitive, one-off pricing
- No ongoing charges for mobile credentials
- Simple to transfer credentials if a user gets a new device
There are plenty of other reasons why businesses might use the ICT Mobile SDK:
- Provide a comprehensive all-in-one solution by adding access control to an existing app.
- Save time and money on admin by issuing credentials access remotely, without the need to physically hand-out cards.
- Increased security thanks to the higher encryption offered by an ICT mobile credential.
ICT’s multi-technology readers also allow for an easy transition to mobile credentials. Those unfamiliar or uncomfortable with using their phone to gain access can still use keycards while they get up to speed with using a credential in the app. Sometimes seeing it working first-hand can be the best way to get used to a new technology.
And because our mobile credentials use NFC or Bluetooth, it means they are supported by many modern smartphones running Android or iOS, so you can be sure your customers are covered.
With the explosion of smartphone use set to continue and an increase in calls for all-in-one solutions, using mobile credentials for access control as part of this ecosystem makes sense. Using ICT’s Mobile SDK is an easy way for your customers to implement this in their business.
Getting started with the Mobile SDK is simple. If you or a customer is interested in developing an app, then you can request the SDK documentation. Fill in the form, we will process the application and let you know what the next steps are.
*Originally published April 24, 2021