Access control market is maturing in India

Ranjit Nambiar HIDToday’s uncertain business environment demands radical changes in the access control industry. As a result enterprises across industries are deploying new products, which are not only aimed at improving productivity but also at increasing security. The demand for increased convenience, lower total cost of ownership and achieving higher levels of security will continue to dictate market development. In terms of future market drivers, we see a few key trends and growth areas:

The move to mobility: The emergence of Near Field Communications (NFC) and other technologies is fueling the migration of access control technology to mobile platforms. The same basic access control methodology we’ve used for decades can now be embedded into NFC-enabled smartphones and other mobile devices, and we can now use our phones virtually anywhere we need to unlock a door, gate, or drawer.

The industry is taking steps to embed the next-generation access control technology directly into phones to take full advantage of digital credentials. For instance, not long ago, we announced our plan to support iCLASS digital keys and mobile secure identity on NFC-enabled BlackBerry smartphones. The partnership with Research in Motion, manufacturers of the BlackBerry, enables BlackBerry smartphone users to use the digital credentials for door access by simply holding their NFC-enabled BlackBerry smartphone in front of a door reader in the same way physical smart cards are used today. Additionally, smartphones carrying digital credentials can not only be used as keys or opening doors, they can also be used to make cashless payments and a variety of other applications.

The convergence of physical and logical access: Physical and logical access convergence improves security by enabling a single smart card to support multiple authentication methods while helping organizations meet regulatory requirements, enforce consistent policies, and drive consolidated audit logs throughout the enterprise, and cut cost by consolidating tasks. For instance, physical access credentials can be re-used for logical access including strong desktop authentication. Conversely, logical access credentials can help drive more robust identity authentication at the door.

Increased security concerns: The increased security breaches and terrorist activities have heightened the awareness around security. And today’s cards that are used for more applications and carry more information require more privacy protections, and they must be able to validate identities and prevent fraud. This has created demand for multiple layers of card security including two-factor authentication to validate identity, and biometric templates that must be stored on the card.

Growing focus on integrated access control systems: As companies are seeking solutions with low installation costs, increased functionality and easy integration into their existing access control system, standards-based, open, and interoperable IP-based access control solutions are gaining popularity. The adoption of high frequency smart cards is also on the rise as they offer higher security and the capability to combine multiple applications on a single card for building access, vehicle tracking, energy management, time and attendance, cashless vending and other applications. Combining multiple applications in one single card also reduces overall costs.

Increasing government influence: The government’s efforts to modernize the country fuel the growth of the access control industry. The e-governance initiatives to make the technological and application benefits available to all citizens stimulate the smart cards market while opening up numerous applications, including the nationwide health card project - Rashtriya Swastya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS). State governments have also played their role by collaborating with Central Association of Private Security Industry to set up training centres for security guards, with the aim of raising the security standards across the nation. Although the security industry in India is fragmented with minimal government regulations and policies, as the industry is beginning mature, more policies and regulations will likely come along to protect the end-users, integrators and manufacturers.

The emergence of second- and third-tier cities: Rapid urbanization in India has created the demand for security equipment and services in second-tier cities such as Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata and third-tier cities such as Ahmadabad, Kochi, Coimbatore, Vizag, Jaipur and Lucknow. However, these regions still lag far behind first-tier cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore in adopting advanced access control systems. With the region’s lack of awareness around security and slow technological development, many enterprises are still using legacy access control systems or basic security measures such as keys and locks, security gates and guards for high security areas. Therefore, it is critical for the region to set up a local distributor and system integrator network for pre-sales and technical support, while providing local technicians with adequate product training to support the growth of these cities.

Rapid growth in vertical markets: IT and BFSI segments are the early adopters of access control systems in India; however, we are starting to see tremendous growth in sectors such as government, defense and transportation, as well as the power and energy sectors. There is a huge focus on the infrastructure segment, where it is expected that the government will be pumping in an investment of USD $1 trillion. For example, The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) is working towards modernizing all commercial airports and it is expected that more advanced electronic access control systems will be deployed in Indian airports. Current networked access control and contactless smart cards solutions can eliminate potential risks such as unauthorized entry using cloned cards within the sophisticated organizational structure of airports. These solutions deliver real-time monitoring and data management capabilities, while enabling role-based access control settings to manage staff access at key entry points and restricted areas in airports.

The Indian access control market is still in the developmental stage, yet it embraces the new wave of possibilities and potential interest in advanced access control solutions on the rise. Moving into this new world will require a simple but protected, fully scalable and standards-based secure identity management system.