Access Control

5 reasons why faces are superior access control credentials

Professional security practitioners know that the best approach for the highest level of identity confirmation is to use multi-factor authentication made up of something someone has – such as an access card, something someone knows – such as a PIN code, and something someone is – such as a fingerprint. Combining these methods delivers a level of assurance that is entirely suitable for situations that involve national security, nuclear weapons, and other important matters.


But this approach is overkill for most access control systems. The vast majority of access control systems are used for everyday purposes at business offices, factories, campuses and housing facilities, and similar venues. These facilities all require dependable, high-accuracy identity confirmation while also controlling cost and processing users quickly and efficiently.

So, the question is: what is the best credential to use for fast, accurate access control identity authentication? The answer – facial recognition.

Facial recognition as a credential is the ideal solution for organizations looking to deploy the most current, accurate, and rapid technology while simultaneously enhancing the user experience in most access control applications.

From unlocking mobile phones to identifying criminals on the run, facial recognition technology continues to be the technology of choice in a variety of use cases that require the utmost level of personal identification and authentication. It is therefore no surprise that facial recognition is being widely adopted as the superior form of access control credential. Faces as access control credentials offer many benefits that ID badges, passwords, proximity cards, mobile devices, and other biometrics simply cannot.

Here are 5 reasons why facial recognition is the right choice for access control identity verification:

1. Facial Recognition can Integrate with Every Access Control System

Every access control system (ACS) requires some mechanism to evaluate access requests and determine whether the applicant has permission to access the controlled resource. In the past, keypads and access card readers were the most common way for a user to request access. Because facial recognition systems can provide the same kind of authorization signals to an access control system as these older methods, they can integrate with every ACS.

Facial recognition systems turn any person’s face into their credential. Faces can be used as either a standalone solution for access, or they can be combined with other credentials for added security as a source for multifactor authentication.

2. Faces are Frictionless and Touch-Free

When a person’s face is their credential, there is no need to touch anything to receive access. No keypads to enter PIN codes on, no fingerprint readers to touch, and no phones or handheld credentials to scan. Users only need to glance at a reader, and, with the proper permissions, the door is unlocked. This reduction in touch surfaces reduces the potential spread of germs and harmful bacteria, therefore promoting a safe and healthful workplace.

As mentioned above, facial recognition seamlessly integrates with existing access control systems, so organizations can replace their access control touch points without having to rip-and-replace an entire system. Implementing a touchless access process also keeps a facility’s employees and visitors moving, since people are no longer stopping to find their physical credentials or enter their PIN codes. In this way, facial recognition provides a frictionless access experience that limits close contact and promotes social distancing, while improving operational efficiencies by reducing wait times at entry points.

3. Facial Recognition is Accurate and Fast

The most advanced current facial recognition technologies make use of powerful computing technologies to deliver precise recognition accuracy faster than ever before. Maintaining a high percentage of correct recognitions in a range of viewing conditions is essential for access control applications, so only facial recognition systems that make use of the latest AI and processing technologies provide the most reliable and accurate solutions.

Fast processing also supports a fast enrollment process, whether when enrolling new users or leveraging an existing database, and provides a better user experience.

For example, Intel’s ANN algorithms, which are being leveraged by some facial recognition platforms today, also allow for extremely fast processing.

4. Faces Can’t Be Lost, Forgotten, or Stolen

Unlike physical access control credentials, a user can’t forget their face at home, drop their face in the parking lot, or loan their face to someone else. A user’s face is always with them and with nothing to carry, there is nothing to lose, forget, or steal. Replacing lost or solen credentials such as badges or key fobs is costly, not to mention an administrative hassle. Organizations that solely rely on facial recognition as an access control credential eliminate the manual tasks associated with printing, issuing, and re-issuing physical credentials.

Lost or stolen credentials also pose a significant security risk. Organizations looking to enforce a zero-trust environment may have a hard time doing so when physical access credentials are easily lost, stolen, and shared, often without the owner even knowing. The loss of physical credentials due to theft or carelessness places an undue burden on security administrators who must stop their workday to restrict the lost credential’s access, then issue a new credential. Such problems are eliminated entirely when facial recognition is the single source of truth for an access control system.

5. Facial Recognition is Highly Secure

Some low-quality facial recognition systems, and those using outdated technology, can be fooled by hackers or bad actors who hold an image or video of an authorized user up to the camera in an attempt at gaining access. However, most facial recognition providers today incorporate anti-spoofing features designed to detect and thwart these attempts.

Furthermore, facial recognition as an access control credential only works if a user consents to being enrolled in the system – that is, if users “opt in” to the service, and are never used for general surveillance. Such consent should eliminate potential privacy concerns, but some companies take extra steps to assure personal privacy. The most advanced systems do not capture or store any actual images of an individual’s face, further ensuring privacy. Some systems also use encryption as an additional security layer to protect against unauthorized access to the system and database. All users’ personal data is further encrypted both while in transit and at rest.

When compared to other traditional credentials such as physical access cards, PIN codes, and mobile credentials, facial recognition is the clear standout when it comes to facilitating a zero-trust environment. Modern facial recognition systems provide highly accurate, secure, and frictionless face-as-a-credential capabilities to access control systems, both new and existing, while maintaining individual privacy. Organizations looking to deploy facial recognition as a credential can expect increased operational efficiencies, decreased administrative tasks, and a streamlined access process that will ensure security while improving the user experience.

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