As technological developments flourish in the security sector, suppliers of access control systems are creating ever more complex solutions to prevent unwanted entry into various types of buildings and institutions. Far from being the intriguing novelty once depicted in futuristic films, features such as facial recognition are increasingly being used in modern security systems and are even incorporated in the latest smart phones as an optional alternative to a pin code. The rapid advancement in access control system technology is also evidenced by the growing use of other forms of biometric recognition (finger print/ iris), Power over Ethernet (PoE) and wireless security.
These changes are testament to the ingenuity of system and product designers. However, new technology is not usually the driving force behind most facility and security manager’s decisions. Although, in some instances, a high-tech system is the right choice to meet a variety of complex needs, there are many applications such as small/medium office blocks, estate agents and car showrooms that would actually benefit from a simpler solution. Consequently, there must be access control products available that can satisfy a more restrained budget, but that will also provide sufficient security to meet the appropriate risk and offer long-lasting functionality. As long as these criteria are fulfilled to an acceptable level, products offering a vast array of extra features are, for many establishments, more of a novelty than a necessity and, in many cases, make for an overly complicated security system that can become difficult to manage and use.
Innovation on a Budget
Key cabinets have long been used as an effective security measure, controlling access to buildings, parts of a building or individual rooms by keeping keys safely locked away when not in use. For those who require a higher security system that is able to provide the monitoring ability necessary for effective control, the option of a key cabinet with an electronic lock is available. These systems provide the capability of allocating individual codes to each person authorised to handle the keys, which is then recorded on the system and can reveal who has recently accessed the cabinet and when. Electronic key cabinets are often used by motor dealerships, estate agencies, banks and police stations to protect other types of keys, such as those used to access vehicles, houses and safes.
One of the challenges faced by manufacturers of key cabinets was how to track individual ‘high importance’ keys that need to be easily accessible within the cabinet in the case of an emergency but otherwise should not be removed without authorised permission. There are various high tech – and subsequently high cost – products available that electronically monitor the removal of each key. However, a solution recently introduced by a leading security product supplier offers an extremely cost-effective alternative. Featuring a number of closed loop hooks in addition to regular key hooks, these types of cabinets come with 20pcs unique tamper-resistant seals that are used to fasten selected keys to the closed loops, ensuring they cannot be removed without detection. This simple yet innovative advancement enables the customer to isolate up to 15 individual keys, which can then be monitored to ensure they are not removed and replaced without authorisation, allowing for complete accountability – without the cost implications of a sophisticated electronic system.
In addition to providing the correct level and type of security, it is important for security managers to ensure that the key cabinet itself is certified to meet all relevant standards. VdS Testing and approval is widely regarded as one of the most
important certification marks by professional decision makers in the safety market and the easily distinguishable VdS badge will be present on all products that have passed this vigorous testing procedure.
Any key cabinet’s ability to resist attack is also evident by the specification of certain security features such as the type of locking mechanism incorporated and the width and material of its casing. Steel is reliable and robust and when used to construct the body of a high quality safe, even at 3mm thick, is enough to resist even a very intense attack. The safe door is often up to double the width of its walls and it is advisable to look for products that offer a three-way locking mechanism for ultimate security.
Some customers may utilise existing cash safes that are built to meet this criteria, although these products are not necessarily suitable for storing individual keys in a manageable layout. However, suppliers are always looking to provide adaptable solutions and one recent product innovation enables existing high security safes to be converted into key cabinets. This is achieved by the integration of compact key racking units that are specially designed to be fitted inside specified safes on easy-slide telescopic runners. For added flexibility, customers have the option of fitting as many or few racks as required so that a section of the safe can still be used as storage for money and valuables. Not only does this ensure the contents of the safe will be secure inside a high quality, independently tested unit, this ‘all in one’ solution also offers space saving benefits.
The ability to effectively organise keys for quick and easy location is essential and, as some floor standing cabinets will hold over 2000 keys, those in charge of purchasing decisions should look out for easy-to-use features such as clever key tags and index control, to ensure that key monitoring is simple and effective.
The advances we are seeing in security technology are impressive, with many advanced electronic networked systems being utilised to provide effective access control. However, it is clear that there is still a very real need for straightforward, intelligent solutions that will meet the security needs – and the budgets – of businesses and organisations that do not require such a high level of security.
As long as products have been issued with the appropriate certificate and badge that proves they have been independently tested to European standards, customers with restricted budgets can rest assured they can achieve – and often exceed – risk assessment requirements without it proving a costly, complex exercise.