Manufacturers across the security marketplace have made great progress over the last couple of decades incorporating increasingly innovative IP technology into electronic locks and access control management systems. This has resulted in solutions that are easier to use, more scalable, more affordable, and extend beyond physical security to improve overall operations.
Trending in Access Control: Mobile & Cloud Solutions
The use of mobile phones has steadily increased and it’s not just Millennials relying on mobile technology. As the smartphone has gained popularity, so have mobile access control applications. In fact, it’s essential for any access control manufacturer to offer either a mobile key application, an integration that serves the same purpose – or both.
Mobile keys have gained popularity in a variety of verticals, especially hospitality, education, coworking, and multifamily housing. Mobile keys are popular because users can quickly be added or deleted and are more secure than mechanical keys because a mobile key cannot be duplicated. As part of an overall electronic locking solution, mobile keys can eliminate the hassle and enormous costs associated with mechanical key loss and replacement.
End users want the power to use their smartphone to bypass the front desk when checking into a hotel room or to come and go at work or an apartment building. It only makes sense to incorporate a device that an end user relies on throughout the day into any physical security solution they would use at work or home.
Access control solutions have also moved to the cloud which has brought added convenience and reduced infrastructure cost. Cloud access control solutions can be implemented with no software installation or the added expense of a fully wired electronic product. In some solutions, all that is needed is an online device with an internet connection. Cloud access control solutions typically offer end users better functionality and performance, scalability, reduce costs, and almost eliminate the need for maintenance.
One of the top markets for cloud access control solutions is coworking. Mechanical keys make it extremely hard to effectively operate in this vertical. Coworking spaces have so many varying needs to address – providing access to common areas, private offices, public events, late-night or early-morning hours, and numerous users with schedules that typically vary by the day, week, or month.
With a cloud-based access control management solution, coworking administrators can grant access on a regular – even hourly – basis and can quickly add or delete users from anywhere via an online management platform. This not only allows for more efficient operations but also enables management to track and monitor room usage and enables them to optimize occupancy.
Of course, in today’s world, security is always top of mind. Any access control provider worth considering should incorporate the latest cybersecurity protections into a mobile or cloud solution, including the latest in encryption technology as well as rigorous certifications and adherence to international standards including ISO 27001.
But, How Much Will It Cost?
With today’s leaner workforce - including both security and IT departments - it’s important that critical access control operations can be easily managed and maintained without the need for specialized highly technical support. Deploying highly flexible, simplified electronic access control provides the opportunity to extend centralized management and control features to applications that traditionally were otherwise limited to mechanical key solutions. The best news is that with these advances in technology, electronic access control has been shown to return significant ROI when compared to the costs of operating mechanical keys.
A cloud-based access control system, for example, requires little to no infrastructure. All that is needed is an internet connection and a battery-powered lock (that can typically be installed on an existing door in just minutes). This means that a modern access control solution is available to almost any-sized business.
Even large enterprise businesses can migrate to IP-based access control for a fraction of what it used to cost. Hybrid solutions are available that combine the best of wired and wire-free systems. Instead of incurring the cost of wiring every door, class-leading data-on-card read/write credential systems allow for updating access rights at key entrance points that are often placed somewhere in the building where all users must pass (an entrance door, a security gate, an elevator, etc.).
When the user subsequently presents their credential to an interior door, even though it’s a stand-alone electronic lock, the credential, and the lock communicate with each other sharing the most up-to-date access information including any “blacklist” users who should no longer be allowed access. These systems can operate even during a power or network outage, ensuring secure access in any scenario.
This can represent considerable savings for a building with interior doors as it means less expensive installations for those doors. If you consider the typical building, there are significantly more interior doors than exterior door thus the savings can accumulate quickly.
Interestingly, electronic access control has expanded well beyond just doors. Advances in electronic cylinders have made the same technology available to control access to lockers, drawers, and cabinets which can all be incorporated into an electronic access control system that’s managed by a single platform.
Benefits Beyond Physical Security
In addition to security, electronic access control also provides another valuable benefit: information. Management teams are always looking for data that can help them make informed decisions. The business intelligence available in a modern access control management solution can provide insight into employee behavior, property usage, room usage, high traffic times, high traffic areas, space optimization, and much more.
Additionally, good access control solutions can help companies lower their carbon footprint and save energy. Let’s consider hotels. Energy usage in hotels is one of the highest operating expenses they incur. A great deal of energy in hotels is wasted by heating and cooling empty guest rooms. A modern access control solution integrates into existing guest room systems (HVAC, electric, etc) and enables hotels to conserve energy by activating or deactivating those systems when the room is occupied or empty. By knowing when a guest is not in a room, a hotel can save a tremendous amount of money – in some cases 25-40 percent on energy costs.
Electronic Access Control Can Improve Your Security and Your Business
Recent advances in electronic access control have been impressive and have fully leveraged the use of smartphones and cloud technology. Innovators throughout the industry continue to improve upon the technology and functionality in both electronic locking hardware, software, and management systems. With these advances, most companies can leverage an access control system to optimize their business, improve operations, provide a better user experience, and save money.
About the author: Steve Burk leads the marketing team that drives the continued growth and expansion of SALTO’s electronic access control hardware and software security products across North America. With more than 25 years as a sales and marketing leader, Steve prides himself on understanding the customer’s journey and finding ways to help customers improve their businesses.