Global Lockdown Options With Electronic Locks, Wireless Systems

March 4, 2013
Networked locks brought about a new term, "global lockdown," the ability to remotely lockdown all electromechanical locks at the same time.

Locks were created for the sole purpose of keeping people out while protecting the content within. Over the last 100 or so years, lock manufacturers improved the quality of mechanical locks, while developing different lock functions to provide the end user with features to make their lives more convenient. Some of these functions are entrance, storeroom, communicating and classroom.

Over the last 20 years or so, mechanical lock manufacturers have been providing higher levels of security for cylindrical and mortise locks. The categories Intruder and Security Locks have gained market share as they offer the ability to lock the outside lever or knob from the inside.

Lock manufacturers including Cal-Royal, Corbin Russwin, Marks USA, Sargent Lock and Schlage Lock Company are producing "security" locks for entrances and classrooms. They offer mortise and/or cylindrical lock functions that permit the key in the inside lever to control the outside lever providing the capability of locking down the lock from the inside. A sampling of the choices include:

  • Marks USA’s Classroom Intruder cylindrical lock has the capability for deadlocking latch by lever from either side, except when the outside locked by key inside. Key outside locks or unlocks outside. Inside always open.
  • Sargent T Zone 38 Classroom Security cylindrical locks feature the ability to lock the outside lever by key operating the inside lock cylinder. Only the key to the outside lock cylinder can retract the latchbolt when the outside lever is locked. Only the inside lock cylinder can unlock the outside lever for keyless operation. Inside lever is always free for immediate egress.
  • The Corbin Russwin ML2052 Classroom Intruder Mortise Lock latchbolt operates by grip from either side; unless outside grip is locked by key either side. The latchbolt can be retracted by key when outside grip is locked. The auxiliary latch deadlocks the latchbolt. The inside grip always free. The outside grip remains locked unless unlocked by key either side.
  • Schlage L9060 mortise locks can be used for classroom security as the latchbolt is retracted by lever from either side unless outside is locked by key from the inside. When locked, latchbolt is retracted by key outside or the inside lever. Only the inside lock cylinder can unlock the outside lever for keyless operation. The inside cylinder is also used to lock the outside lever.  Inside lever is always free for immediate egress.

These types of locks help to keep people safer during an emergency by eliminating the need to open the door in order to lock the outside lever.

To further increase the level of security for some mortise locks, the standard outside lever or knob can be removed and an anti-vandal handle can be installed.

Some lock manufacturers offer mechanical lock function modification kits. This could save money, as existing locks may be able to be upgraded to the security function without having to replace the locks themselves.

Electromechanical Locks

The advent of the electromechanical lockset brought a new set of opportunities and limitations. Early electromechanical locksets were standalone, battery operated locks whose programming occurred at the keypad or credential reader on the exterior of the door.

Note: Most electromechanical locks have a mechanical override lock cylinder. Having a key enables access. For the purpose of this article, we will be discussing electromechanical locks that are capable of operating offline, as standalone locks.

Some manufacturers have begun to offer specialty-function battery operated locks that have the ability to provide lockdown without having access to the outside keypad and/or credential reader.

Alarm Lock Trilogy DL/PDL4100 Series cylindrical and DL/PDL4500 Series mortise locks have a lock down/privacy pushbutton on the inner assembly. Pressing this Trilogy's inside ‘privacy’ button automatically disables free passage through the door and locks out general PIN user codes or proximity IDs. Activation is confirmed with a red LED right over the button, on the inner door, and on one outside, beside the keypad. From the outside, a lock-down override code will reactivate the pushbutton keypad and credential reader.

Salto Systems has introduced an electronic escutcheon, the Salto Local Lock Down mode escutcheon. This new product has a credential reader in the inside escutcheon. When the proper card is presented, the reader locks down the outside lever and card reader, while still permitting free egress. When in the Local Lock Down mode, standard cards cannot gain access. Only an authorized card with lockdown override privileges card can unlock the door from the outside.

Networked Locks

A major development in electromechanical locks is the advent of network capable locks. These locks operate using PC-based software that controls every lock's operation. A computer (head-end) is used to download programming to the locks and upload audit trails, battery life, etc. In addition, the head-end is used to monitor the system.

Networked hardwired electromechanical locks can provide real-time monitoring. When a credential is presented to a hardwired lock, the operation can be immediately seen on the head-end monitor if the software is programmed. Real-time monitoring capability that tell you who went where and when.

With the introduction of the hardwired network-capable electromechanical locks, locks could be controlled remotely, not only individually, but also as specific groups or all locks. Examples are remote unlocking during lunch or other breaks and locking up after work hours.

Networked electromechanical locks brought about a new term, "global lockdown," the ability to remotely lockdown all electromechanical locks at the same time.

There are two basic types of networked electromechanical locks: those locks that operate using the manufacturer’s proprietary software and those "open architecture" locks that operate using third party software. There are unique benefits for purchasing proprietary and "open architecture" electromechanical locks. There is also a significant difference between the two.

Two examples of "open architecture" locks include Sargent Lock and Schlage Lock. Some examples of proprietary locks include Alarm Lock, Omnilock, Best and Salto.

Salto provides the operating software for its Salto Virtual Network products. This means the functionality of Salto Virtual Network locks is determined by Salto. All networked Salto Virtual Network locks have the same software-based functions varying only upon the capabilities of the specific lock models wired into the network.

"Open architecture" networked electromechanical locks operate using third party access control software. Sargent Profile Series v.N1 locks are an example of "open architecture" hardwired electromechanical locks.  Third party software is required to operate these networked locks. Software producers, including Keri Systems, RS2, Software House, etc., write access control system software packages for the "open architecture" networked locks. The software producers provide the controllers as the software communicates between their controllers and the locks, and the locks function as programmed.

Access control system software ranges from simple to enterprise integration. These systems can incorporate wireless communications, Ethernet environments and include CCTV, telephone entry, vehicle and employee ID. Not all software producers provide the same access control system software. It is extremely important to know exactly what your customer wants in their access control system and discuss this with the software producer to make sure they can satisfy your customer's requirements.

For example, the key override function is open to different interpretations. It can be considered a breach of security or it can be considered an acceptable for of access, depending upon the end-users requirements. A breach of security requires a red flag warning. Acceptable access is noted in the audit trail.

Electromechanical networked lock functionality varies by manufacturer, lock model and available options. Specific models of the Schlage AD locks can be ordered with the 50 function option. This option has an inside button that can send a signal to the head-end software. The signal can be programmed to provide functions such as individual lockdown, disabling the locks' credential reader and/or keypad. For end-users that have these locks, it is important to check with the software producer to see if this function is supported.

IMPORTANT: Functionality that is available from a lock manufacturer may or may not be supported by the software provider.

Wireless Locks

Wireless electromechanical locks are battery operated. Unlike the hardwired locks, battery operated locks have a limited supply of power. The operable timeframe is dependent upon the size and number of batteries and the current draw for the functions of the lock. Power is consumed every time the lock checks in and communicates with the head-end, when a credential is presented whether it is authorized or not, every time the outside lever is rotated and when the lock itself is operated.

Wireless locks require some form of communication in order to download and upload information for adding or deleting users, sending audit trails, changing the lock mode, battery condition, etc. Energy is consumed by the locks every time the lock checks with the controller whether there is activity or not.

Depending upon the lock manufacturer, wireless locks can be set to communicate from every few seconds to once a day or more. The greater the frequency, the more power will be drawn from the batteries.  The AD lock's default "heartbeat" using Schlage's terminology is 10 minutes.

Some locks will automatically communicate at a set timeframe no matter what occurs. For other locks, the communication cycle can be interconnected with lock activity. As an example, a wireless electromechanical lock has a 10-minute communication window. If the lock is 30 seconds from the communication time of 10 minutes and someone presents a credential, after the activity, the time reset to 10 minutes.

If an electromechanical wireless networked lock communicates with the head-end every 10 minutes, it will communicate approximately 52,000 plus times in one year of operation. If the same lock communicates every 15 seconds with the head-end, it will communicate approximately 2,100,000 plus times in one year of operation. These numbers do not include any activity such as granting access.

Most manufacturers design their wireless electromechanical locks to operate at least one year on a set of batteries under normal operations. Normal operations are usually within around 40,000 to 60,000 in a year, which is about 150 to 200 cycles a day, five days a week.

Most wireless electromechanical locks are equipped with "AA" batteries. Alarm Lock Trilogy Networx locks are equipped with "C" batteries. According to Alarm Lock, life expectancy under normal usage exceeds five years.

When not in communication with the head-end, wireless locks operate like offline locks. This conserves battery life. However, when the lock is offline, it will not normally communicate with the head-end. Lock manufacturers have different methods for having the ability to instantaneously communicate. Some use a secondary signaling method that can be sent from the head-end to the locks that is instantaneously received. This can be a radio signal or a ping that the lock is designed to recognize when it is offline. When this signal is received, depending upon the software producer, the head-end can have the locks perform a specific function within seconds, such as global lockdown or global passage mode, etc. However, an administrator has to be at the head-end to send the signal.

Alarm Lock’s Networx can be locked down from any lock within the system when all of the locks have been set to this feature. If there is more than one Networx gate, all of the gateways must be configured with static IP addresses. An approved list of up to 50 users must be authorized to perform global lockdown.

To perform a global emergency lockdown, an authorized user presents his or her code or credential at any lock and enters“911” on the keypad. Once the locks are locked down, all basic users are locked out and all lock schedules are suspended. 

To reset the system to normal operation from any lock, an authorized user presents a credential, plus “123” on the keypad.

There is also the ability to globally set the locks into passage mode. This is accomplished at any Networx lock. Authorized persons present their credential and enter “000” for “emergency passage.” The reset method is the same.

Over time, electromechanical lock manufacturers will improve communication methods in order to provide higher levels of security and life safety.

For More Information

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or the following manufacturers of electromechanical locks.

  • Alarm Lock:
  • Best Access Systems:
  • Corbin Russwin:
  • Kaba:
  • Omnilock:
  • Salto Systems:
  • Sargent Manufacturing:
  • Schlage:

For a more complete list, see the Locksmith Ledger Online Buyers Guide: