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As technology evolves, more companies are investing in solutions to make building access simpler and more straightforward, while being as safe and secure as possible. A new trend emerging within commercial real estate is to use employee badges in Apple Wallet to support and accelerate the connected lifestyle that people want in life and at work. Critical to this trend is connected access enablement, which can give users access to places, spaces, and things by using their iPhone or Apple Watch.

This means no more stopping at the security desk or carrying multiple plastic cards for access to base building access, turnstiles, office suites, and amenities. With connected access, employees and tenants can skip the line, completely changing the way people enter and navigate through buildings. And administrators can do away with manually managing this access, dramatically streamlining processes and increasing efficiency.

Bridge Commercial Real Estate, a major player in the U.S. commercial real estate market, introduced a new connected access experience through Apple Wallet at its premium Lenox Park office building in Atlanta. This new experience addresses a growing shift among leading companies that are transitioning from traditional corporate office space for more nimble and flexible layouts that boost collaboration and employee engagement, while reducing overall real estate costs.

Employee badges in Apple Wallet are provisioned from the BridgeEngage app using SwiftConnect AccessCloud, which brings together the building and business solutions that govern physical access. NextGen Security, an integrated physical and electronic security provider, played an integral role in the installation and configuration of the access control system.

To learn more about this new connected access experience, Facility Executive spoke with Mark Ferris, Chief Operating Officer at Bridge Commercial Real Estate.

Facility Executive: What inspired you to introduce this new connected access experience? What was the access experience like prior to implementing this new system?

Mark Ferris: The overall tenant experience is now the great dividing line between winners and losers in the office market. How an existing or prospective tenant enters a building is often the first impression they form on whether a property is fully equipped to address the fast-changing needs and preferences of today’s workforce. So, the ability to incorporate a mobile device access solution through a user-friendly app that our tenants have already embraced was a no-brainer. They now enjoy seamless entry via their iPhone or Apple Watch to the places and spaces that make them happy and productive. SwiftConnect’s proven blueprint for developing technology that works across multiple properties and access control systems to deploy employee badge in Apple Wallet aligns with our vision to create the best tenant experience possible. This access provides tenants a superior, digital one-key solution across our entire office portfolio, which was the main driver in our decision. It also enables our team to monetize underutilized spaces across the portfolio to a much broader customer base, simply by adopting the SwiftConnect software technology that overlays on a very fragmented access control market and environment

FE: With connected access, employees and tenants can easily access the building, along with its office suites and amenities. What are some new or different security needs you may have now with this new method of access?

Ferris: This technology isn’t about addressing new security needs, but more about efficiency and ease of use for our users. Previously, if one of our tenants was onboarding a new hire, they would have to 1) reach out to the property management team to provide a physical access card, 2) manually activate the card, and 3) find the tenant to deliver it to them. That system is obsolete and completely reliant on having the right person available at the right time, so if someone is not available or a card processor goes down then there’s not much you can do but wait, which takes away from core business activities. Now, if an employee is hired or leaves a company, HR operators have the opportunity to have a direct connection to the database that will grant or remove building access with just the figurative touch of a button. Not only does this improve the efficiency of our management teams where they can spend more time on creating community, but it also has the ability to add value to the tenants by way of more real-time access control to the building and their space by automating credential management with the building systems.

It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to open an app on your iPhone or Apple Watch to use employee badge in Apple Wallet, which makes SwiftConnect’s platform different from other technology on the market. Also, even if your iPhone or Apple Watch are not charged, the technology within will still allow access after you wave it in front of the reader.

FE: What has the employees’ and tenants’ reaction to this new connected access experience?

Ferris: It’s safe to say we have an instant hit. The pilot group we initially tested with has repeatedly remarked about the convenience and efficiency of this technology. They no longer have to dig through their purses or pockets to locate their access card since these days everyone is literally a fingertip away from their smartphone. Or if you’re wearing your Apple Watch, then the search is completely eliminated. Word has quickly gotten out and tenants who were not part of the initial test group are now asking to be added as soon as possible.

FE: Now, because this new connected access experience through Apple Wallet, what if guests don’t have an iPhone? Will they still be able to have the same connected access?

Ferris: The initial launch phase is for Apple iPhone and Apple Watch users only, but plans are already underway for adding tenants who have Samsung or Google devices over the next few months. We’re pleased to see the initial success with the iPhone and Apple Watch, and we look forward to expanding on other platforms later this year.

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Read the full article "An Office Building’s Approach To Connected Access" on Facility Executive Magazine.

Facility Executive Magazine