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Exclusive: How wireless access control reduces time and cost pressures

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Wireless access control solutions are helping organisations to save time and money, reports ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions.

The growth and mobility of urban populations is pushing access systems to their limit. Users demand efficiency, with a careful balance between security and freedom of movement. Yet traditional methods of filtering and monitoring access now place growing time and cost demands on security managers.

People move around more than ever, for work and leisure. Old systems and manual security technologies do not facilitate this movement. They may create inefficient bottlenecks. Faced by sophisticated attacks in both physical and cyber spaces, “static” security solutions are no longer appropriate: Systems need to be dynamic, flexible and scalable on demand. At the same time, for users, everything should work largely out of sight.

The most efficient way to add this flexible security capacity is with wireless technology. Wireless access control saves security management costs and time, when compared with issuing more metal keys or extending security solutions which rely on cables.

Access control vs mechanical keys

On their own, traditional access control solutions cannot help meet the new demands placed on security managers. A key either always or never opens a lock. It cannot be personalised or time limited. The loss of any valid mechanical key begins a laborious and costly process of lock replacement. A security manager does not know which doors a specific key has opened today, in the last week, or anytime. Managing hundreds of them is too time-consuming in an already busy job.

In any case, however closely managed, an issued key has a life of its own. This in-built weakness can have expensive consequences: One recent study found 17% of US co-working spaces had experienced theft because of a former user with an old key they failed to return.

A facility manager asks too much of mechanical security if they ask it to be flexible, rapidly scalable and responsive.

Fixing the issue with wired access control?

Equipping doors with wired locking is one traditional remedy. Wired doors, however, create their own problems. This electronic locking solution often relies on magnetic locks. Once installed and activated, the locks and card readers draw electric current constantly via a wired connection to the mains.

They are secure, but also expensive at almost every stage of their life-cycle. Wired locks are time-consuming and expensive to fit, because they require electric cabling to and around every door. They are costly to run because of this “always on” power connection. Complexity makes them expensive to maintain. Retrofitting to an existing building may be impractical — or almost impossible.

Naturally, few building managers then hardwire all — or even most of — their doors. Premises are left with a mixed system based on wired doors and mechanical keys, with all their inherent pitfalls. In addition, security teams must now manage two separate systems, based on two different technologies, in parallel.

The solution to this snowballing inefficiency is wireless access control.

The joys of wireless

Wireless access control adds flexibility to building security without the problems created by a wired solution. Extending door access wirelessly gives facility managers more control. It also saves them time and money when compared to equivalent wired security. Like all cable-free technologies, wireless access control has the flexibility to adapt. Consider the everyday convenience of a mobile versus the old phone tied to a desk.

Wireless devices are easy and non-disruptive to install. Once fitted, they maintain the two-way information flow that’s necessary for making good security decisions. Wireless locking gives security managers granular control over access through many more doors than would ever be feasible with wired access control.

Administrators can always find out who went where and when, because battery-powered locks gather timestamps and can generate audit trails. This makes incident investigation quick and easy. Wireless devices are available for interior and exterior doors, including certified locks for security and fire doors; for lockers, elevators, gates and more.

Budget-friendliness is another big benefit. A recently published ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions benchmarking study estimated installer labour costs were more than 80% less for wireless versus wired locks. Adding more locks wirelessly can help to eliminate the “lost key problem”, delivering savings time and again over the lock’s lifetime. A missing credential is simply reprogrammed or blacklisted; no one needs to change the door hardware.

Adaptability and reduced energy consumption

A staggering proportion of global energy is used by buildings: UNEP estimates they consume around 60% of the world’s electricity. This is a complex problem without a simple solution, of course. But businesses can contribute when they take the right decisions about the spaces they use, how they use them and the technologies they install to enable this usage. Battery-powered wireless locks use a tiny fraction of the electricity consumed by an equivalent wired door.

The best mechanical key technology is established and secure. But it can be inflexible and time-consuming to manage. Metal keys provide no “feedback” to security managers. Wired electronic access control solves some of the problems of mechanical security. But it is disruptive to install and expensive to run. As a result, many businesses settle for partial coverage, leaving security gaps.

A wide choice of wireless solutions

Wireless access control offers flexibility and adaptability which is not available from mechanical or wired technology. Wireless locking and access systems come in all types and configurations.

From ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions, Aperio locking devices offer seamless integration with any security or access system, from over 100 manufacturers (and counting). Aperio cylinders, escutcheons, wireless handles and security locks can secure almost every door; Aperio devices for cabinets, lockers, server racks and more bring all kinds of opening into an access system.

With the modular platform approach taken by Incedo, businesses simply choose the security hardware and credentials they need from across the ASSA ABLOY product range. Three management system options include secure cloud administration. Scalability — in any direction — is fast and frictionless.

SMARTair is a simple, wireless upgrade for any site which currently relies on mechanical keys. A broad range of locks and padlocks can be managed from simple, web-based software. SMARTair also works with mobile keys, so users move around with credentials stored securely on their own smartphone.

Wireless solutions combine the power of electronic access control with ease of installation and cost-effectiveness to run. It is a proven technology already saving time and money for organisations everywhere.

To learn more about wireless access solutions from ASSA ABLOY, watch this on-demand webcast: app.livestorm.co

This article was originally published in the December 2021 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital edition here

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