QR codes for smart, convenient visitor access


With over 20 years experience working in the security industry, delivering solutions for some of the worlds biggest brands, regional director at Yardi, Paul Speariett talks about the phenomena of QR Codes. 

QR codes are one of the tools Forge has been using for a number of years to help companies give people access to their buildings conveniently, safely, and securely. But what are QR codes? How are they being used? And why do we use them?

The Rise of the QR Code

The adoption of touchless technology to facilitate everyday transactions has risen exponentially during the last year due to the pandemic. Our current mobile technology and high-speed internet accessibility have played a critical part in enabling this.

82% of consumers worldwide now view contactless as “the cleaner way to pay,” with 74 % saying they plan to continue using contactless payment post-pandemic.*

QR codes (Quick Response Codes), a technology that originated in Japan in the 1990s, have been a key way of connecting the physical world to the digital during the COVID-19 pandemic and have become commonplace.

QR Codes in use

A vital feature of the UK Government’s NHS contact tracing app is the ability to scan an official NHS QR code to check-in to venues, to enable people to be contact traced if a case of COVID-19 is reported by the venue. By 23 December 2020, the app had been downloaded 20.3 million times in England and Wales.**

Restaurants have replaced physical menus with QR generated online menus, and some retailers use them for payment. Barclays bank has partnered with Alipay to allow Barclaycard merchants to accept Alipay QR Code payments in the UK. (Mobile Transaction, 2019)

With Apple recent iOS 13’s QR Code reader update and Pixel’s ability to scan QR Codes without Google Lens, the rise of the QR code looks unstoppable.

What are QR Code Enabled Access Control Systems?

QR code enabled access control systems are simple, quick, and accurate – making them one of the more efficient access control solutions to use. A QR reader installed at an access point to allow the QR code holder to scan and verify their right to access an area or building. The reader sends the unique data captured in the code to the service provider. If the access system’s data links up with the QR code reader’s data, it grants access to the individual who scanned the code.

Visitor Management and QR codes

Yardi Bluepoint visitor management generates a unique QR code that is allocated to a specific appointment time. The visitor who receives the QR code in an email invite can check-in for their appointment at the building reception or at a Forge Bluepoint desk or free-standing kiosk. In buildings where Forge Bluepoint has been integrated with access control, visitors can scan the QR code displayed on their smartphone or printed paper to get through barriers or speed lanes, even lifts, to access the building.

The Forge Bluepoint QR codes can be limited to certain access groups or time-limited, so they only work for the appointment time or the visitors’ requirement to be on site. This means the building security team know who’s on-site, when and for how long.

For added convenience, QR codes can be added into Apple Wallet or Google Pay. The QR code stored on visitors’ phone is “Geo Fenced” to the building. When the visitor is within 10 meters of the building, the pass pops up on their phone screen, no need to go searching for an appointment invite in their emails.

Cost-effective and convenient

Using mobile technology, by scanning QR codes on phones at speed lanes, can be cost-effective in the long term – no more printed passes or access cards, time and resource saved by self-check-in and faster processing of visitors.

Upfront costs to retrofit or install new QR readers will be off-set by these cost-saving and many other benefits:

    1. Reduce your buildings carbon footprint: reduce or eliminate the need for paper or plastic passes.
    2. Speed and convenience: mobile access means people can use their smartphones to access the building without going to the reception or finding an invite.
    3. Secure: only the person invited to the appointment will receive the QR code via their email.
    4. Touchless: scanning the QR code from a personal email on a phone or printed paper removes the contact points when visiting a building.
    5. Great experience: for your visitors will have many positive impacts. Enhance your brand, encourage visits to your building, help with occupancy retention and time on site.

Complimenting your security strategy

QR codes are primarily there to grant temporary access to a building, usually at a speed lane or a lift. QR codes are not designed to replace traditional longer-term access solutions delivered through apps or access cards. They are used to complement the existing access control solutions, providing contact-free, temporary access to non-critical areas.

What’s Next?

We are regularly asked about using a mobile app for visitor access. Whilst there are no practical limitations to doing this, there are some fundamentals as to why mobile might not be the best solution.

Today, to use a smartphone, in place of a physical access control card, you must have or use the following:

    1. Install or upgrade Bluetooth 4 LE (low energy) readers
    2. Ensure site hardware and software is compatible with the required readers
    3. Users must install the app of the access control system onsite on their smartphone.

For people working in the building,  the above steps make a lot of sense; however, there is the obstacle of having to download the app for visitors who may only need the app once. This small but essential step can be a barrier to adoption.

    • Is the visitor allowed to download apps if they have a work phone?
    • Do they want to download it?
    • Have they downloaded it in time?
    • Can they use the same mobile app to visit different buildings?

The additional steps do not make the experience any better for the visitor; if anything, it can make it more inconvenient and confusing.

To ensure a smooth and inclusive visitor journey, Forge recommends using QR codes; sent to the visitor in an email invite. However, that’s not to say that we would not adopt a mobile app solution in the future if these barriers are overcome.

If Apple and Google allow businesses to write to the secure part of the NFC (Near Field Communication)*** chip on their devices, visitors could use their phones just how we use them for mobile payments. Until this is commonplace, we will continue to deliver QR codes as an access solution that is quick, secure and easy for as many users as possible, not to mention flexible and cost-effective for our customers.

Find out more

Get in touch to find out how you can use QR codes in your workplace to give people visiting smart, touchless and secure access.

PAUL SPEARIETT, regional director, Yardi 

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* https://www.qsrmagazine.com/outside-insights/moving-beyond-covid-3-ways-accelerate-innovation

** https://www.statista.com/statistics/1190062/covid-19-app-downloads-uk/

*** https://support.apple.com/en-gb/guide/security/seccb53a35f0/web