January 10, 2023 | Sonny Sekhon
For organizations where security is at the forefront, making sure no unauthorized people gain access to restricted areas is critical, to put it mildly. Many of these locations – airports, and data centers are just two examples – have implemented mantraps, vestibules, airlocks, or sally ports. These physical security access control systems typically comprise a small space with two sets of interlocking doors, such that the first set of doors must close before the second set opens. They’re very useful for keeping unauthorized persons out of sensitive areas, but they don’t always go far enough in terms of security.
The pitfalls of today’s mantrap setups
A mantrap or vestibule typically consists of a small room with two doors – one connected to the unsecured area and the second connected to the secured area. Gaining access from either side requires using some sort of credential/identification validation, which is usually swiped against an access control reader, and there are typically cameras set up to detect people passing through.
Access control systems like this are at the heart of most security systems, but there’s one way to easily bypass one of these systems: holding the door open. All-access systems, regardless of the underlying technology, are vulnerable to this problem.
Tailgating, which occurs when an unauthorized person gains access to a sensitive area by essentially tagging along with or following someone who is authorized, is a significant and all-too-common issue. Tailgating is sometimes done without the authorized person knowing; in other cases, the authorized person is in on it. And not only is it a huge physical security risk, but it’s also a cybersecurity risk – because an unauthorized person could then gain access to data centers and other protected networks.
One of the major problems here is that most of the access control systems set up in these mantraps rely on visual sensors such as cameras or T-DAR systems for counting people. These solutions are inaccurate, unreliable, very sensitive to lighting or environmental changes, and most importantly, easily defeatable by malicious actors.
What LiDAR systems do differently
Quanergy’s mantrap solution, which consists of MQ-8 series LiDAR sensors and QORTEX DTCtm perception software, can detect tailgating through secure portals with far higher accuracy than proprietary optical imaging systems. The solution sees everything in 3D, unlike camera-based systems that only see in 2D. It offers the coverage, granularity, and accuracy that’s needed to provide a hyper-accurate people count which is the most critical component of the entire solution.
Here’s a scenario: Let’s say you have a data center employee who is authorized to be at the data center site and has all of the credentials they need. They approach the mantrap, from the unsecured area to the secured one, and swipe their badge against the card reader, which is tied to the access control platform. As soon as the system accepts the badge and they enter, that will trigger the outside door to close.
If you’ve implemented LiDAR in your access control system, the sensor will do a “count,” determine there’s just one person in the mantrap or vestibule, and then it will trigger the opening of the door to the secured area. After the employee exits into the secured area, the secured door closes again, and the LiDAR does another count to ensure there’s no one left in the vestibule before the next person can then approach the outside door.
If there were two people counted in that mantrap, the secured door would not open because the LiDAR would detect both people. This isn’t the case with less-accurate systems.
Building on existing solutions
Physical security investments often don’t come cheap, so many organizations are reluctant to do any kind of rip-and-replace process unless absolutely necessary. Quanergy’s solutions complete existing access control systems rather than replacing them. Quanergy’s LiDAR-enabled mantrap solution allows users to keep leveraging existing investments as it seamlessly integrates with the leading access control solutions. Organizations that need higher security with broader coverage and no blind spots can use Quanergy’s solution to complement what they already have in place.