Part 1: Is Access Control Having a “Sick Building Syndrome” Moment Due to Covid-19?

May 7, 2020
Written Insights

Access control, which has primarily been focused on physical safety and has been on a converging path with logical access control, has been t-boned by Covid19; specifically when it comes to access control and the responsibility it has with health safety.  

Question I have is, are we ready for it?

“The term ‘sick building syndrome’ (SBS),” as defined by the EPA, “is used to describe situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.” Historically this has been used to define mold issues, airborne sicknesses, and the way buildings make occupants feel. It is recognized by the World Health Organization and many other regulatory bodies who look to set out rules and regulations when it comes to employees and guests health, safety and well being.

So this lead me to wonder, now that it is clear that one way viruses spread is from contact with surfaces like door handles, and we, in the access control industry, are rushing to find “touch-less” solutions like biometrics, automated door openers and dynamic visitor management systems, is this the moment that “health,” becomes part of access control? Up until now, if we are all being honest, the health story in access control has never really been a value story we have told or participated in, nor has it been something a lot of our customers have asked from us. We have, historically, used automatic door openers for ADA compliance and convenience. We have not incorporated data visualization of pandemic response into our systems, nor have we asked “do you have a fever” with our visitor management systems (outside of very specific applications but they were corner cases).  

Now we find ourselves in a moment. The world is looking to our industry to be one of the experts in not only how we can keep employees, customers, families and friends physically safe, but how we keep people healthy. It is part of the mainstream visibility (eg. even  The Hustle is covering it). Before we all rush and add a fever detection camera to our solution set or make our systems “bing and bong” when there is a believed health concern, I think we need to quickly and throughly think deeply about how, what, where and why. It is a moment but how we respond to the moment is what will matter. The companies and individuals who do, have the ability to lead. Those that quickly act without thinking, will fail.  Those that think too much and don’t act, will fail. It needs to be a balance. We have time. Not too much time, so act and act accordingly. Embrace it. We are having a moment.

Here are some questions to ask and think about:

  • Have you thought through how you incorporate this into your solution set?
  • Do you have the skill sets internally or the right partners to do it correctly?
  • Just because you can, does it mean you should?
  • How do you message this properly?
  • What are the best practices you can share to incorporate?
  • What good can happen and what bad can happen?
  • What needs to happen outside of just technically integrating these solutions?
Lee Odess

I've worked as an Entrepreneur and an Integrator (founded E+L+C), for a multinational billion dollar manufacturer in the lock and access control industry (Allegion), as an Executive of a start-up who pioneered the IoT/smart lock/smart physical access control industry (UniKey), and as an Executive with the first cloud based physical access control manufacturer (Brivo). I put all those years together to form a Growth Studio focused on business creation in the CRETech, proptech and smart home markets for small to large companies in the security, access control and IoT industry.

Labeled as an uber-networker by the Washington Post, Lee Odess has over 18 years starting, building and leading businesses with an exceptional track record for sales growth and marketing effectiveness.

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