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The Present and Future of Credentials in Multifamily

On the latest podcast/videocast for IMAC, Colin and I discuss the past, present, and future of credentialing. Credentialing, metal keys, pin, cards, fobs, and now mobile, are essential parts of the entire access control system. They are "the thing" that you use with a lock or reader to let you in. Like many industries, old habits are hard to die (e.g., metal keys). Still, over time, the value of new technology, consumer demand, and the risk associated with legacy technologies allows them to be retired. I also believe a key, no pun intended (ok, a little) to old technology being the end of life is the industry we are serving, in this case, the multifamily owners and operators, start to pay more attention to and take a keen interest in different parts of their business versus leaving it up to their partners or just repeating what was done in the past. We see this happen now. In my opinion, credentialing is an excellent example of a part of the access control business that is not only under a phase change (reference article here) but going to be a place multifamily owner and operators start to show a keen interest.


With that in mind, here is where we are today, the near future, and what I call "the future future" of credentialing.


The Present: Keys, cards and fobs, secure (smart) and insecure (prox), pin, and some mobile, primarily phones, and an occasional wearable like watches or rings. The credential matters a lot, and unfortunately, it is given to you versus it being you. The problem is the majority of the existing credentials are insecure and add no value. Four significant changes are underway and eroding the current credentialing business and, in turn, its value. One, the move to mobile credentials. Two, demand for more secure credentials. Three, the increased value creation provided by identity services. Four, the need for a better experience of which current credentials cannot offer.


The Near Future: More of the present, with less of the insecure cards and fobs, and some biometrics, including facial, vein, and finger, is coming soon. The credential loses its importance over time, and your identity, the assurance of it, and the experience around it matters more. We start to see some of the frictionless experiences we have been desiring. The occurrence of locking and unlocking at the door begins to resemble logging into your computer, resulting in higher levels of security and new business models to be developed.


The Future Future: Keys go away, more of the near future becomes available, and we see the door reinvented. As an industry, we seem to always focus on the lock problem when, in fact, I think we have a door problem. We will start to see more embedded technology and smart doors. Technolgy will include locking, sensors, cameras, and much more. The credential business will also go away, and edge devices like locks and doors will respond to you presenting yourself based on situational awareness and assurance.

We have some fascinating times ahead when it comes to a sleepy historical subject like credentialing. My suggestion is to start early, get engaged, and develop the Near Future plan for your properties.