Next-Generation Security Devices for Hotels

When it comes to property security, guestroom locking systems and closed-circuit television systems have been standards in the industry for years. But that does not mean vendors of these products are sitting back watching the time go by-rather they are constantly innovating to respond to the changing needs of an industry embracing new technologies across the board and new realities in terms of physical security. Of course, two buzzwords when it comes to any new technology are "wireless" and "digital." And security technology is no different, with the recent development of contactless RFID locking systems as well as digital, network-based closed-circuit television systems.

Both have advantages over the former technology. In terms of CCTV and video surveillance, everything now can be digitally recorded and placed on the hotel network so that a general manager, for example, is able to access any camera from any computer terminal. And RFID locks give hoteliers a superior option for outdoor entrances in harsh weather environments, while also allowing for flexibility in the key, which might not be a key at all in the traditional keycard sense, but rather a bracelet or cell phone that may serve various functions throughout the property, including payment. As vendors continue to do research and development, these technologies and the products around them will evolve to meet the needs of tomorrow's hoteliers and hotel guests. Meanwhile, here's a look at some of what's available now.

Miwa, SAFLOK and VingCard each have developed a contactless RFID lock design that offers less hardware on the front of the door. Miwa's product includes a battery-operated lock and remote-control RFID keys effective at a range of up to 5 meters (16 feet). The lock emits an audible indication to confirm that the door has been locked or unlocked, and a rolling code format makes it virtually impossible to duplicate the frequency, even if the RFID waves were to be intercepted. SAFLOK's Quantum RFID lock features an environmentally sealed proximity reader and LED lights that display behind the polycarbonate reader lens, along with open IR/RF architecture and an energy management interface. And VingCard's Signature RFID product allows guests to use Near Field Communications (NFC) compliant cell phones to open guestroom doors. In addition, through collaboration with NXP, hotels equipped with the Signature RFID locking system will be able to offer remote check-in, allowing guests to receive their room number and room key access code via text message so they can go directly to their rooms upon arrival. VingCard's RFID lock runs on an open-platform system compatible with the leading RFID ISO standards and the NFC platform. CISA also offers an RFID product, the Wave Mode lock, which allows guests to signal their presence in the room by the press of a button, eliminating the need for other guest privacy devices.

On the CCTV front, digital technology enables better functionality in cameras, recording and playback. The latest trend is to base CCTV surveillance systems on hotels' IP networks. By doing this, any camera can be provided with any frame rate at any time, and frame rate and storage capacity are easily increased. Moreover, IP allows intelligent functionality of cameras, including motion detection, dynamic noise reduction, alarm triggering, and remote accessibility of live or stored video streams from any location. "IP is head and shoulders above analog cameras," says Jon Ecker, founder and CEO of Peace of Mind Technologies LLC, a New-York based security company. Plus, an IP-based system offers the benefit of lower installation costs. "We can utilize the IP network to eliminate 80% of the wiring, and therefore [lessen] cost," Ecker says.

Bosch has a range of products available to get hotels fully set up with an IP-based CCTV system, from pan/tilt/zoom cameras to its VIDOS-NVR (networked video recorder), which supports up to 64 video streams simultaneously over a single PC server, and is designed to ensure seamless and gapless recording even in the event of a network failure. A customizable software package also is available to control all functions of the IP CCTV system.