Unconventional Access Control

Feb. 1, 2008
This new type of access control allows tracking of keys throughout a facility by auditing the door lock cylinder and auditing each of the keys independently.

An access control system can be a big investment for many facilities. The cost could very well be more than their annual maintenance budget. At the same time, security requirements often mandate better access control systems.

With the responsibility for the safety and security of employees and visitors, administrators are looking for security systems that will provide them with peace of mind.

A new access control system is gaining popularity. The electromechanical standalone customizable key-based access control system provides instant capability to rekey locks without hardware changes or the services of a trained technician. This new patented hardware prevents unauthorized duplication of keys and allows the user instantly to rekey any level of a master key system without affecting any other level. The software and secure controller can be networked or placed on a standalone computer, enabling control of every individually serial-numbered key, every lock and every user in the system, using the electronic recording function in every cylinder and key to provide answers to access control questions, i.e. who went through that door at midnight?

Management can track keys throughout a facility by auditing the door lock cylinder and auditing each key independently. The cylinder will tell whose key was used in the cylinder by the key identification, the date, and time. The key will provide a list of each cylinder into which the key was inserted, whether access was granted, and the date and time of each event.

The electromechanical cylinder and key system has been used successfully in thousands of facilities throughout North America since 1995. They have been retrofitted in several older buildings around Washington DC and are being installed in all new buildings because of the unique control technology and the computerized record and control system. Management will be capable of tracking all of the keys that have been issued and, since these keys cannot be duplicated, a high level of security is maintained.

There are many choices when it comes to security. While the popularity of electronic ‘‘key cards,'‘ (commonly known as ‘‘smart cards'‘) enables using one card for a multitude of applications - such as door access, identification and tracking purchases - the cost to implement this type of system can be prohibitive because of the wiring labor costs.

Traditional locks and keys were being replaced for many reasons. While it's easy to stamp “DO NOT DUPLICATE” onto a key, those keys can be duplicated.

The cost to install and maintain the new electromechanical key and cylinder with extensive audit trail, time zoning and consistent changeability has come down to below $700 per door and cylinders can be moved from door to door if plans change.

The electromechanical key system was first compared to the traditional lock and key systems, but it was quickly apparent that this system offered more benefits. First, the system includes keys that have individual electronic serial numbers so the recordkeeping for the facility becomes simplified. And the patented technology allows for repeated re-keying by simply inserting the electromechanical key and uploading the new users list and retrieving the audit trail list at the same time. In multilevel master key systems -- like large facilities – all cylinders are electronically keyed and can be updated in a matter of seconds.

By implementing a new electromechanical key system, there is an option to master key the electromechanical cylinders mechanically as well as electronically. To aid the facility in keeping cost down, mechanical cylinders are also included. That way doors that very seldom get rekeyed but need to be on the entire key system can be keyed into the system so the electromechanical key can also operate the mechanical cylinders. Such a system can use an electromechanical cylinder, a UL437 listed or a non UL437 listed high security cylinder that offers the facility three different price points for flexibility. This reduces the total number of keys distributed, which will give the facilities staff confidence in their key control effort.

Each key has an HID Prox chip built into the head of the key so that the key can be used as a dual credential within a Prox badge system. All HID Prox chips are available in specific facility systems including i -class. The system described in the article is based around the ASSA CLIQ C4 system.

The following companies offer patented electromechanical key systems:

ASSA High Security Locks: ASSA C4 CLIQ. www.assacliq.com.

Medeco High Security Locks: Medeco Logic CLIQ. www.medeco.com.

Mul -T-Lock High Security Locks: Mul -T-Lock IQ CLIQ www.multlockusa.com.

CLIQ TM is a trademark of ASSA ABLOY and its definition is electromechanical key and cylinder using a specific firmware platform. Each company offering the CLIQ product is based on their own individual company's design. Even though the basic concept is the same, each system functions differently. Review each company's product for the one that fits the specific needs of your customer.

Tom Demont is director of sales and marketing, ASSA High Security Locks and has 50+ years in the security hardware industry.