Wireless locks offer security, flexibility and accountability

Feb. 10, 2020
Its ability to adapt to myriad applications in a cost-efficient manner make wireless locks a popular choice

A great deal of focus has been placed on the importance of defending the perimeter of campuses and facilities of all kinds. This makes sense, as the perimeter is the first line of defense when it comes to securing an organization from criminal intrusion, theft, violence and other risks.

Yet for almost every facility, there is more than one perimeter that requires protection. There is the outer fence line, which needs to be able to keep out all unauthorized individuals from the overall premises – but there are also numerous interior perimeters within any campus or facility. Each of these represents a defined area with limited access authority. Server racks and high value drawers, pharmaceutical storage closets, executive floors and classrooms are just a few examples of areas within the outer perimeter that require their own access control – either at all times or in the event of an incident.

One of the best ways to secure a variety of exterior and interior perimeters within a single facility is by using wireless locks. Like all electronic locks, wireless locks enhance access control by making it possible to execute immediate global commands to all locks in the system. The lock itself, along with request to exit, door status switch and reader functionality are all resident in the hardware and can be controlled from a remote location. Each user can have their own credentials provisioned with their individual authorities.

While all electronic locks work in this way, there are many applications where hard wired access devices are not practical or cost-effective because of the need to run cabling. For example, some historic buildings have regulations limiting the extent or type of structural changes that can be made. Other buildings have masonry construction that makes it impossible to run cable. In these cases, wireless locks enable a solution that would otherwise be difficult and costly, if not impossible, to deploy.

No matter what a building’s history, construction materials or industry, wireless locks can deliver an access control solution that protects the most critical interior perimeters.

To illustrate this concept, consider a lockdown in a school building. In the event of an active shooter incident, historically the shooter has made their way onto the school grounds and into a building before firing a shot. Often the perpetrator is a credentialed student, and so entering the facility itself is not an obstacle. Once inside that outer perimeter, their typical intent is to move from room to room, entering classrooms that are unlocked.

With a system of wireless locks in place, the principal or other authority can instantly lock down all classrooms with a single action. This is much faster and more certain than hoping that each individual teacher is notified of the incident in progress and takes the necessary action to lock their own classroom door swiftly enough to avert harm.

The ability to lock down a school with absolute immediacy during an active shooter incident is so important that it has become a central element of school safety planning. In fact, it is such a core issue that it has led some people to champion the concept of barricading doors, along with a flood of different products promising to do just that. However, when it comes to safety it should be said with absolute certainty that barricading doors negatively impacts safety by preventing first responders from reaching injured individuals and limiting the ability for fast egress if necessary.

Beyond schools, wireless locks are an immediate and cost-effective solution for almost any application, dramatically reducing the installation time and costs typically associated with traditional hard-wired locks. For example, in a warehouse there may be rooms or cages containing higher-value merchandise, forklift garages and management offices that are off-limits to general personnel. In a healthcare facility or hospital, there are differing levels of access privileges for public areas, quarantined sections, maternity wards and mental health wings, not to mention pharmacy areas where narcotics and other controlled medications are dispensed.

Casinos and gaming establishments have their own hierarchy of authority for access. Back offices, counting rooms and high-roller areas are all excellent candidates for wireless access control systems. Should there be a breach of any kind in the casino or hotel at large, the entire facility can be locked down at once.

As mentioned, many historical buildings are not good candidates for any technology that requires cable to be pulled through walls. Using wireless locks brings a much higher measure of security to fragile treasures like colonial-era homes and shops, and museums built in the earliest days of the country.

On construction and other industrial sites, there are often outdoor sheds housing high-value tools and heavy equipment that could greatly benefit from wireless access control. These sites also typically are also home to portable office trailers and other outbuildings used for a variety of utilities, all of which require protection. By choosing a wireless solution to secure these temporary locations, management can save a significant amount of time and money on the overall construction project.

Beyond their benefits of convenience and cost-savings, wireless locks enable the creation of an audit trail to help provide insights and intelligence to the organization using them. For example, the audit data can identify the last person to use their credentials to open a lock. This information can be of vital importance in solving a crime should assets be missing, a door left open, or other security incident occurrence.

For a tremendous range of applications, wireless locks provide a solution to help secure all the perimeters – interior and exterior, large and small – within an organization.

About the Author

Karen Evans | President and CEO, Sielox

Karen Evans is the president and CEO of Sielox.  

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Nov. 19, 2007