News Stories

NFC and Strata Management

April 2014

NFC and Strata Management

Let’s tackle the question “what is near field communication” first. From a techy perspective, it is a short-range, low power, wireless link evolved from radio-frequency identification (RFID) tech that can transfer small amounts of data between two devices held a few centimeters from each other. 

And for the rest of us, near field communication is a form of contactless communication between devices like smartphones or tablets. Contactless communication allows a user to wave a smartphone over a NFC compatible device which sends information without needing to touch the devices together or go through multiple steps setting up a connection.

This form of communication is fast and convenient and is becoming more popular every day. For example, instead of carrying a bus pass for your daily commute you just wave your phone over the terminal as you board and off you go. You are automatically charged for the fare so no need for any cash transactions. Think of the savings just in the plastic cards themselves, let alone the administration needed to produce and distribute them. 

There have been stringent standards introduced through a group called the NFC Forum which ensures manufacturers of devices with NFC adhere to strict standards ensuring the environment is secure and easy-to-use. 

Businesses and individuals alike can benefit from near field communication technology. By integrating credit cards, train tickets, hotel room keys, garage access fobs and gift cards all into one device, a customer can board a train, pay for groceries, redeem vouchers, store loyalty points, and access a secure parking station or their office building all with the wave of a smartphone. 

Wherever you go, you will encounter instances where near field communication is making life easier. Here are some of the ways people will use near field communication: 

  • Driving your car: NFC can unlock your car, adjust your seats, and even admit you to your work’s secure parking garage.
  • At the office: Once you’ve arrived, you can gain access to your office building and clock in by swiping your smartphone or other device.
  • On the bus: If you commute to the office, you can pay for your bus or train pass and wave your phone to pass through the gates. Tapping your phone at a kiosk will give up-to-date information about schedules and delays.
  • At the shops: On the way home from work you stop to buy groceries. Vouchers and customer reward points are already pre-loaded on your smartphone and are applied to your total automatically when you check out. Payment occurs when you wave your smartphone over the card reader and you’re ready to go without ever opening your wallet.

So how is this relevant to strata management? The number of ways is really just limited to the desire to embrace the technology. As with many new technologies there are fears attached to actually using something which is so foreign. Interestingly with NFC the main fear is if someone steals the phone. Having a phone stolen is safer than having a credit card stolen as long as the phone is password protected. If a thief can’t log on to your phone, they can’t access your information or use the NFC functionality. 

In strata management near field communication could be used for: 

  • Accessing buildings or gated communities: No more need to issue access keys or fobs. The occupants just swipe their phone. This also eliminates the need to recover keys and security passes when someone leaves. Their access is just turned off and there is no cost for physical cards or fobs.
  • Paying for the use of facilities: Swipe the phone to use the barbecues, to access the gym, to use the pool table, to purchase something from a vending machine or to use the shared laundry. This all becomes automatic and takes away the need for any cash to be stored on the premises.
  • Accessing common property : Fobs, access cards, or keys would all become the thing of the past as mobile phones become electronic keys for access control to any area on the property with the appropriate restrictions.

Advantages of using NFC are many. The most important being that the credential can be instantly delivered to a person's handset - no physical hand over is required. Take away the physical cost of fobs and access cards and the time to administer these and mobile contactless devices are a massive time and money saver for any strata complex.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014