When reading trade magazines and attending trade shows, the electronic lock is ubiquitous. An abundance of products have been introduced to solve the problems associated with key control – who has keys to your facility and who has the authority to make new or duplicate keys. The hotel...
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When reading trade magazines and attending trade shows, the electronic lock is ubiquitous. An abundance of products have been introduced to solve the problems associated with key control – who has keys to your facility and who has the authority to make new or duplicate keys.
The hotel industry first drew attention to the benefits of electronic locks in the 1980s following several instances where mechanical locks and keys were compromised. This resulted in serious safety and security issues for guests as well as major liability and lawsuits for hotel operators. Electronic hotel locks solved this dilemma by utilizing magnetic keycards that are only valid for a specific time frame and for a specific door. These keycards are harder to duplicate than mechanical keys and have a unique coding for each room and length of stay. Electronic locks also provided the benefit of an audit trail, enabling the hotel operator to investigate any guest’s claim for a loss in a particular room or a breach in security.
In addition to the traditional electronic hotel locks, many electronic locks utilize personal identification numbers (PIN) or other credentials such as Prox or RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) cards and smart cards (contact or contactless). These electronic locks share common limitations. In the case of magnetic keycards, Prox cards and similar credentials, the user has to be physically given a token to hold in his possession and present to the lock for access. For PIN locks and most credential-based locks, the lock administrator also has to visit the lock to add or delete the user. This is often accomplished using a hand held device, which has received a configuration file from a PC-based software system. Although some newer PIN locks have pre-programmed or “one-shot” service codes, once these codes are used, they have to be reprogrammed by visiting the lock.
These limitations are quite acceptable in hotels where a front desk staff hands you a keycard. Similarly, a University with a fully staffed Campus Card office, or a hospital with an in-house security department to manage and reprogram their locks as personnel changes occur, can find this process acceptable.
The Need for Remote Access
However, there are a growing number of ‘remote’ access control applications where the elimination of mechanical keys and the associated key control issues is paramount, but the use of traditional electronic locks is not suitable since:
Lock users are far away from any location that could issue a credential to them in a practical manner.
Lock users only require temporary and/or infrequent access.
The users may not be suitable for permanent credentials (service people, subcontractors etc).
There is no group to visit the locks to add/delete credentials or otherwise manage the lock.
Some possible examples of these access control scenarios include remote and unmanned sites such as cell towers, telephone switching equipment buildings, water treatment buildings, pump rooms, corporate apartments, store or warehouses that require after-hours deliveries, conference centers, utility rooms and vacation rentals.
The advent of cellular and other Radio Frequency technology has opened up the opportunity to add or delete credentials and manage electronic locks via a wireless connection. However, issues of signal reception in remote or indoor locations and battery power requirements limit the viability of this technology.
A unique solution to these problems and access control scenarios is the Oracode Intelligent Electronic Pushbutton Locking system from Kaba Access Control. It operates using time-sensitive, PIN-based credentials that are issued remotely using web-based software. Once installed, locks can be located and managed anywhere in the world without ever having to visit the lock. The system requires just three components: door locks, web based software, and any Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) running PALM OS5.X.
Get card access without wires, software or computers by pairing the E-Plex with LearnLok™.
The E-Plex 2000 combines the strength, simplicity and reliability with the enhanced security and convenience of electronic access control.