Ask the Expert – Brivo


Jeff Nielsen, Chief Technology Officer at Brivo provides expert insight into all things access control, and takes a look at the growing trends and technology 

Could you provide us an insight into the history and heritage of Brivo?  

I’m Jeff Nielsen, the Chief Technology Officer at Brivo. Brivo is headquartered near Washington, DC, spanning Maryland and Virginia. We were founded in 1999 and introduced our first cloud-based access control solution in 2001. What’s interesting about this is that during that time, as far as we know, all other access control systems were on-premise setups, typically involving a server tucked away in a closet. So Brivo, became the pioneer in offering a cloud-based solution. Since our inception in 2001, we’ve achieved a series of industry firsts. For instance, in 2015, we introduced the first native mobile credential, which is now quite common but was revolutionary at the time. In 2016, we provided the first open API for others to integrate with our system. We also led the way by introducing a subscription-based model for access control charges instead of one-time licenses. We were among the earliest to offer a unified multifamily residential solution.

Additionally, we believe we were the first to have access control data published in the Wall Street Journal, a milestone that coincided with the pandemic. They used some of our data in their reporting. Initially, Brivo catered to small to medium-sized businesses that didn’t want to manage on-premise servers, such as doctor’s offices, gyms, schools, and restaurants. But over the years, as we expanded our features, we became an excellent solution for large global enterprises and the commercial real estate and multifamily sectors. Today, we have more than 50,000 clients across nearly 100,000 geographical sites, covering approximately 450 million square feet (about 50 million square meters). We process roughly 21 million events daily as part of delivering these mission-critical services through our cloud solution. So, we’re the largest access control company you may not have heard of.  

And thankfully, we’re no longer fighting the battle of “do I really want to put my access control in cloud”, we’re now on to different battles.  

Brivo has spoken about the shift from access control to access enablement previously. Could you elaborate on how this transition is transforming the end-user’s experience and its parallels with the frictionless hospitality experience?  

We like to envision access control as the fourth utility. If you consider what’s required to operate a building, you need electricity, plumbing, HVAC, and, of course, access control. It’s inconceivable to run a modern office building or residential property without some form of access control. This perspective reshapes how we perceive our role. Instead of regarding access control as a mere sophisticated lock, we prefer to use the term ‘access enablement.’ This emphasises the focus on the user experience. Rather than just securing doors, we concentrate on solving problems for our customers, tenants, or residents as they engage with their environment.  

You mentioned the hospitality industry, which offers excellent examples of this user-centric approach. There is a strong emphasis on shaping the guest experience, from the moment they approach a hotel to their initial impression in the lobby. What should guests feel during their first five minutes on the property? What is the primary goal for a guest when they’re trying to access their comfortable room as swiftly as possible?  

If we apply this same line of thinking to access enablement, we can ask ourselves: ‘What should a new employee experience on their first day at the office? What about long-term employees? How can we simplify their daily tasks or even surprise them with delightful experiences? What changes can we make to enhance their day?’ This shift in perspective is what we’re encouraging – to recognise that technology not only keeps the wrong people out but also plays a vital role in improving the lives of the 99% of individuals who are simply trying to accomplish something meaningful…

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Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, Security Portfolio
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922

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