Steve Van Till, CEO
Over the past decade, SaaS technologies drove the migration of nearly every class of enterprise software, from private servers to the public cloud. But there was always one hold-out: commercial physical security applications. Naturally conservative, security managers tended to stay with tried and true on-premise approaches, even as SMB and residential customers adopted cloud-based security solutions by the millions. In the past five years, however, enterprise-scale deployments of cloud-based physical access control systems have been ramping up quickly. Brivo, the leading vendor in this space since 2002, makes this point convincingly with a customer roster that includes over 200 Fortune 500 companies.
Cloud migration is accelerating in physical security due to several reasons, such as better functionality, deep mobile integration, automated software updates, and flat opex cash flows vs. big capex outlays. These systems have been particularly effective at freeing information from closed workstations and providing mobile situational awareness and control that professionals have come to expect for enterprise applications.
From a broad perspective, cloud-based access control systems are specialized IoT networks and subject to all the same cyber security concerns as any other class of IoT devices. To address these challenges, Maryland-based Brivo offers a cloud-based access control platform backed by a dedicated cyber defense team, over a dozen years of external infosec audits, and an infrastructure with all the necessary cybersecurity certifications. Brivo’s multidisciplinary platform unifies the commercial security experience across access control, mobile credentials, video surveillance, identity federation, and visitor management. The company’s platform offers customers a modular choice of features to suit their unique needs, and provides numerous integrations to third-party security devices as well as industry-specific vertical software packages such as property management, health club operations, HR systems, and identity management.
Brivo stands out from other vendors by taking a data-centric approach to physical security, as reflected in its new Data Explorer module, currently in Beta with select enterprise customers. “Brivo is now on the fourth iteration of our software stack, and for Data Explorer we deployed entirely new data storage technologies that are optimized for analytics,” explains Steve Van Till, CEO of Brivo. “We’ve taken everything we’ve learned about how customers want to interact with their data, and made it accessible via an open-ended business intelligence interface, with AI under the hood for specific types of pattern detection. Then we dropped all that on high performance elastic computing clusters.”
The company’s upcoming Snapshot feature is another example of using machine learning to extract value from security data and improve the user experience. “For access points that are equipped with one of our cameras, it works by extracting all facial images around the time of a security event, and pre-compiling them into a matrix where they can undergo forensic review about 10X faster than with standard techniques. We also keep archival video linked to those images for cases where someone wants to go back and see everything before and after that point in time,” says Van Till.
Brivo mobile apps have been an integral part of the offering for many years, and provide clients with two distinct sets of features: mobile management for system administrators, and mobile credentialing for employees, contractors, tenants, and other types of occupants. The company’s mobile management app gives administrators the power to do anything they want from a mobile device, such as viewing activity logs, playing live or recorded video footage, unlocking doors remotely, and configuring control panel parameters.
Customers love our Bluetooth-based mobile credential implementation because it automatically detects the nearest door and allows hands-free entry without removing your phone from your pocket
Launched in 2015, the Brivo Mobile Pass application makes it easy for users to open doors with their phone and ditch the old plastic access cards. Mobile Pass boasts advanced features leveraging Bluetooth and other technologies for new projects, but is also backward compatible with every system installed for the past 15 years. “Customers love our Bluetooth implementation because it automatically detects the nearest door and allows hands-free entry without removing your phone from your pocket,” explains Van Till.
The Brivo tagline has always been “Simply Better Security.” Its philosophy starts with unifying the security experience across access control, video surveillance, and intrusion detection. The company has made a complete UI modernization in another big piece of its fourth-generation software stack, reflecting two decades of technology investment that have continued to drive the feature-rich strategy forward to meet changing market demands.
“Our open API removes any form of siloes in enterprises,” says Van Till. The API is primarily used for identity synchronization with enterprise directories, HR systems, and other vertical applications. It can also be used as a security event data feed into other systems. “One of our customers merges the physical security data stream from our system into the same platform they use to monitor network security, which sets the stage for event correlation and a single pane of glass for their operations staff.”
In addition, a kiosk-based visitor management solution for commercial properties easily integrates with the Brivo core access control platform. With features such as guest identity, photo capture, and badge printing, the solution simplifies security and compliance for administrators and provides a secure, streamlined visitor experience.
A Client-Centric Approach to Maximize Favorable Outcomes
Brivo works with its network of over 1500 systems integrators to deploy solutions to its global client base. The integrators provide the expertise for upfront requirements analysis, installation, and the unique jurisdictional regulations that are a part of any access control solution. They also program the system to customer specifications, and assist in enrolling users and providing education.
A case in point, Brivo helped e-signature technology firm DocuSign secure hundreds of doors in its numerous offices. “Our platform has been helping the client monitor their every door, 24/7,” extols Van Till.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Brivo added several new features to its innovative platform to help clients manage their door security during and after lockdown. “While the visitor management system helps employees self-certify about their travel history using mobile devices, personnel control leaves room for manual intervention to screen people,” says Van Till.
Earlier this year, Brivo acquired Parakeet Technologies, a smart apartment solution for multifamily dwellings, apartment units, and condominiums. As modern buildings need both traditional access controls for lobbies, gates, garages, swimming pools, health, and fitness facilities, the Brivo platform will allow residents to have a mobile credential, both at the base building level as well as on individual apartment doors. This acquisition has also encouraged Brivo to enhance its capabilities further. “With deeper integration between products of both our company and Parakeet’s, including a common user interface, unified billing, and bundled services, we can provide lighting and thermostat control, timers and schedules, and sensors for comprehensive property management,” concludes Van Till. On the geographical front, Brivo launched a subsidiary in Europe in 2018 and is working with integrators in various global regions to take its value to new companies across the world.