The widespread use of smart phones equipped with near-field communications capabilities could bring about the demise of the proximity card and usher in a new era of mobile access control for properties.

Mobile access control could soon become an indispensable and ubiquitous feature of property security systems, primarily as a result of the paradigm-changing impact of the smart phone, which has crammed unprecedented levels of technological capability into a single handheld device.

A key to the spread of mobile access control will be the accompanying development of cloud computing and near field communications (NFC) capability, which provides security systems and devices with the incorporeal communications framework they need to achieve fully mobile functionality.

NFC has already become a buzzword within the security sector and serves as the key capability which will enable mobile access control to become a standard feature for buildings and facilities.

The mobile access control facilitated by NFC could see the replacement of traditional proximity cards with smart phones, which are connected to cloud management systems that determine which users are able to open doors and access buildings.

In addition to dispensing with the need for facilities' users to carry separate access cards on their persons, the shift to smart phones will also make credentials management far easier for security system administrators, who will be able to adjust such credentials remotely without the need to physically retrieve and process proximity cards distributed amongst a large number of users.

Industry insiders point out, however, that while the trend is seen by many as inevitable and certain vendors already claim they're NFC-ready, making these features a reality will still take some time for security companies, as a number of hurdles and challenges must still be overcome.

The security industry generally lags behind the IT market by several years. In order to make mobile access control truly feasible, manufacturers will need to ensure that the systems they develop are compatible with third party applications such as VMS, IDS and other facility specific requirements. New mobile systems will also need to be compatible with the legacy access control systems in which facilities owners have already invested.