The world is going mobile, and commercial and residential security is no exception. The advent of wireless locking systems and mobile access has marked a major advance in electronic access control (EAC) capabilities, enabling the installation of wireless locks in locations that were previously inaccessible or impractical using conventional wired or mechanical locks.
For example, instead of locking up all of a hospital’s drugs in a central pharmacy, they can be put in cabinets in patients’ rooms with each cabinet having a wireless lock that is linked to the central access control system. This speeds delivery of drugs to patients, improves the operational efficiency of the staff and provides a complete audit trail of exactly which cabinet was opened by which staff member and when.
Wireless systems offer significant savings compared to the labor and expense of installing a wired system. Most significantly, they offer control capabilities not possible with conventional wired EAC systems. In fact, their advantages are so compelling that integrators and businesses should start looking at ways to utilize wireless access control beyond traditional security-only uses. These next-generation “Wireless 2.0” applications open up entirely new areas of implementation — and profit potential. Let’s look at a few.
Fast-food restaurants are moving toward wireless access control as a way to manage personnel. Using a mobile phone with a one-time PIN code, full-time and temporary workers can obtain entry to the restaurant. This access information is reported to the owner, who has peace of mind knowing that the restaurant was opened and is properly staffed. The expense of issuing keys or the risk of having them stolen is eliminated, along with the possibility of someone obtaining the code to a PIN lock by unauthorized means.
To name another example, universities where many students carry smartphones are looking at utilizing them for access and network authentication in addition to physical ID/access cards. Designed to leverage existing secure mobile infrastructures, systems like ASSA ABLOY’s Seos offer a means of issuing and revoking digital keys to near-field communication (NFC)-enabled smartphones. It’s as much about convenience as security: In the event of a lost phone, the student’s digital keys can be removed over the air and reissued to their new phone — something that can’t be done with a plastic card.
But what about wireless system compatibility? Even if a user’s apartment, place of business and other locations they frequent all have wireless access, odds are they might not all be on the same wireless system. One manufacturer’s keyless door lock on the apartment, another’s wireless lock on the office door, dozens of still another provider’s wireless locks on the cabinets in the company’s datacenter … instead of confusion, complication or limited access, in the near future a specially enabled phone will let users have access to anywhere they need to go without having to carry multiple credentials. Better compatibility means happier customers, and expanded profit opportunities for integrators offering universal wireless system compatibility.
With heightened security, complete access control, total monitoring capabilities and complete convenience, it’s hard not to see that wireless access control systems offer tremendous growth opportunities. Aside from new applications, what should integrators consider in making the move to Wireless 2.0? Make it futureproof. Any technology an integrator implements should be upgradeable in terms of infrastructure and credentials.
Also consider that wireless and networking systems call for a level of IT savvy that might require some additional training for some or all of your staff. It’s an investment that will pay off as wireless access control is an industry that’s only going to get bigger and bigger.
Above all, think about new ways in which wireless security systems can be used. The “intelligent” capabilities of Wireless 2.0 can be used to target specific customer segments and create tailor-made solutions that make life more convenient and secure for your customers. Can you install a system that eliminates constantly issuing, changing, keeping track of and losing keys and credentials? Can you give customers peace of mind by solving their access control needs or by identifying solutions to potential problems they might not even realize they had?
Wireless security isn’t just about keeping a home or facility locked up anymore. It’s about making your customers’ lives easier.
is Director of Product Management, Electronic Access Control, for ASSA ABLOY.