Mobile Access Control

Key cards are great. However, people may forget their cards or lose them, and the card readers tend to have a short range. This is a particular problem for garage and gate access. On top of that, the cards themselves involve plastic and chemicals.

One solution for many clubs is to choose mobile access control instead (or as well). With mobile access control, your members can access the club through an app on their phone. This offers a longer read range, is more efficient (with the ability to update access remotely with the touch of a button), and circumvents lost card issues. The vast majority of people are in the habit of taking their smartphone wherever they go.

Related Article: Arriving on the Go

Options for Mobile Access Control

There are two options for mobile access control readers.

Near Field Communication (NFC)

NFC offers a very short range communication, with low speed. Many key cards work on this principal. Because it is highly secure, NFC is also the protocol used for mobile wallet and payment systems. It works by using inductive coupling between the antennae on the phone and the antennae on the reader.

However, NFC is not always a good protocol for mobile access for two reasons:

  1. It’s range is no greater than that with card systems. Your members will need to hold their phone right up next to the reader, the same as with a card.
  2. Third parties do not have access to the NFC system on Apple devices. Access is restricted to Apple Pay (this is no doubt because of an emphasis on security). Many of your members are likely to appreciate their high-end iPhones and will not be amused to be asked to use a system that does not work on their phone. (It also won’t work on some older Android models, which might be an issue if people are giving their old handsets to their kids or for older members who keep their phones until they die).

You might want to consider NFC access if not all of your members and visitors have smartphones, as it allows for the easy use of either a phone or a card. It’s also possible that this technology might develop in the future into one which is more useful.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

BLE is much more immediately applicable. It is a successor technology to classic Bluetooth, long used to pair phones with accessories and other devices. However, BLE is much more efficient, using a lot less battery. It’s supported by all modern mobile and desktop operating systems, including Windows Phone and Blackberry (although you will still need an app for more obscure phones.

BLE supports a greater range, allowing you more flexible reader placement and in vehicle-based situations it can save a lot of time. As long as your guests and employees have the app on their phone, there is no need to adjust anything. They can simply walk in the door.

And in the near future, it will become more possible to give out BLE cards to members or their guests who don’t have smartphones, although smartphone adoption is getting closer and closer to 100%.

Benefits of Mobile Access Control

Using mobile access control helps your members and you in so many ways. Here are some of our top benefits:

  1. No need to keep track of handing out and returning cards. Instead, you just have them download the app and link it to their account, and access can be quickly enabled or revolved (including automatically, if they don’t pay their dues). There’s no need, too, to switch out or reprogram cards to give people access to specific parts of the building, such as VIP lounges.
  2. No need to purchase cards, which while low cost can mount up.
  3. Improved sustainability from not using as much plastic and chemicals. Cards usually end up in landfill eventually.
  4. As already mentioned, the longer range of the readers is easier for garage and other vehicle-based access. It can also reduce lines at the door on busy days.
  5. As technology advances, it’s easier to future-proof mobile access control. You can keep adding features.

For right now, cards are needed as an alternative. However, it’s very likely that as smartphone ownership continues to saturate the population, mobile access will be able to completely replace card readers for many applications. (There may be exceptions. For example, some people may prefer cards for pool access so they aren’t taking their phones into such a damp and potentially damaging environment).

Mobile access control is likely the future. While we aren’t at the point yet where we can make a full switch, offering mobile access (and ensuring that it is OS agnostic at least across Android and iOS) will make life easier for you and your members.

To find out more about how Card Lock’s mobile access control works and whether it is the best system for your club, contact us today.

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