Access Control in Smart Cities

With the growing number of IoT devices in smart cities, cybersecurity processes must work in tandem with physical access control and video surveillance solutions to protect devices, control rooms and servers from attacks and minimize incidents. The basis of a smart and safe city is considered an enhanced network and communication infrastructure. This structure depends on facilities and control systems located throughout the city – from critical facilities to public parks. An invasion of any of these places could jeopardize the security of the entire city.

Critical Infrastructure Protection

In 2014, in Portland, Oregon, a 19-year-old guy was caught by surveillance cameras while urinating in a city drinking water tank. Authorities were forced to eliminate 143,000,000 liters of potentially contaminated water. Intentional pollution of the urban drinking water network (a vital element of every city) – can cause significant damage and jeopardize the health of citizens if the problem is not detected in a timely manner. Although the incident was detected thanks to a video surveillance system, electronic access control, as well as an intrusion detection system, could detect an attacker when he just arrived and use digital warning systems to deter him, preventing incidents.

This story illustrates why all critical infrastructure located in cities should be strictly protected from intrusions and other disruptions to ensure the health and safety of citizens. This is especially true for smart cities with interconnected networks, where access to one institution may open the door for violations in other areas. There is no need to worry, but it is important to recognize the need for physical protection of critical infrastructure. That is why ACS today is considered such a significant trend in the market, and is growing even faster than video surveillance.

Access Control System Update

Each city has a control room where logical access control processes operate (for example, access rights to computers and devices are protected by credentials). It is required to strengthen physical access to the premises through the use of access control, which uses biometric data registered on the access card or key fob. Such safety measures can prevent incidents before they cause serious harm or harm to people and the environment.

For mission-critical environments, decision-making that combines a variety of technologies, such as video surveillance and access control, provides a completely secure access control solution. The use of an access key is not necessarily sufficient to ensure the security of object entrances; It’s also important to make sure that the person using the access keys is who he claims to be. There are several options to improve this process and confirm that the incoming person is actually authorized:

  • The combination of video surveillance and the image associated with the physical access key can increase the level of control.
  • A temporary QR code can also be associated with a key fob or other key as a second control. Without these two elements, a person will not be able to access the object.
  • Face recognition can also help identify a person who is trying to access an object.

Not only security, but also civil services

In addition to securing critical infrastructures, there are plenty of options for exploring how access control can make life easier for people, and some possible uses are described below:

  • Smart parking: facilitate access to parking in public offices, shopping centers and hospitals with the help of QR codes sent to smartphones for safe and smooth access. People can log in to an organization to request access and obtain temporary credentials. This helps to avoid unnecessary trips, consumes less fuel and immediately opens free parking for access to other services.
  • Parking management for people with disabilities: in order to combat illegal parking and ensure that it can only be used by a user who actually needs a dedicated parking space, the solution may be to equip the dedicated parking space with a license plate verifier or a QR code.
  • Managing access to historic urban centers: Today, environmental impacts are a serious problem, and more and more authorities are deciding to control access to these places in a more controlled way by physically integrating IP video surveillance cameras with video analytics and license plate reading technology. This allows you to access cars with pre-registered numbers (for residents), or QR codes on smartphones previously sent to tourists.
  • Access to facilities by visitors: using QR codes instead of traditional entry systems will help improve visitor management and facilitate dematerialization. This reduces the costs associated with traditional physical credentials – with minimal environmental impact, for a smarter approach to access control.

Technology plays a crucial role in solving urban problems. But the smart city of the future is likely to be determined by smooth modernization of infrastructure and new partnerships that will bring more prosperity to residents than bright new developments that resemble the visions of science fiction. The number of connected devices in cities will continue to grow rapidly, and cities have begun to pay more attention to enhancing cybersecurity. However, remember that physical security must remain a priority to protect critical infrastructure or other vulnerable areas. Therefore, city authorities should consider updating the installed ACS by adding additional features, such as audio or video components. Thus, the security of a smart city and its inhabitants will be improved.