Then, now, next: The ongoing evolution of key control technology

2021 is an exciting point in time for the world of physical key management.

Thanks to recent strides in technology, ‘PropTech’ solutions are streamlining age-old methods for managing and maintaining buildings and facilities.

PropTech helps to remove repetitive, error-prone and inefficient human activity.

So let’s take a look at how this technology has changed the key control game.

Where we’ve been. Where we are now. And what’s around the corner.

The perils of current-day key control

Meet Wayne. Wayne is the Facilities Manager of Platform Property, a large property management business with multiple buildings across multiple sites.

Wayne has always accepted manual key management as a necessary evil.

Platform Property uses physical sign-in and sign-out books to keep track of keys. And they tend to let authorised personnel carry ‘required’ keys at all times.

Wayne knew it wasn’t a perfect system, but it never occurred to him that there was another way.

In recent years, however, Platform Property has been growing. And with more people coming and going, day in, day out, Wayne’s needed ever-more keys to distribute and manage. He accepted the frustration associated with this consuming more of his time.

That’s what he thought, anyway.

But people are now losing their keys way too often. And the cost of replacing them is starting to add up. The cost is severe when he has to change locks. More than that though, all those missing keys are posing a big security risk – which has been playing on Wayne’s mind (and his nerves).

Platform Property is a typical example of what key management still looks like for so many organisations. Things can get tricky when all the responsibility is in the hands of individual people, with so much risk of human error.

When it comes to keys, many hands don’t make light work. They make chaos.

Luckily for Wayne, we’re no longer in a place where manual key control is the only way to manage keys. But we’re still not in a place where we can ditch keys entirely. But thanks to available technology we can now automate and simplify key control like never before.

How automated key management is simplifying everything

We still rely heavily on physical keys in today’s world. And we’ll have to for some time to come – it’s not feasible or cost-effective to replace all of our mechanical locks and keys with electronic solutions.

But automated key management solutions like Torus use proven IoT technology to significantly reduce the number of keys workplaces need.

Let’s look more closely at what Torus can do.

An integrated cabinet and software solution, Torus can be installed quickly and effortlessly.

An internet connection is all you need to ‘plug and play’.

And for a Facilities Manager like Wayne, the benefits don’t stop there.

Once installed, Torus gives him all the information he needs – including who has what keys and for how long have they had them.  (He can access this intel from any device – and from wherever he is in the world.) 

He even receives email and SMS alerts when keys have not been returned by their deadline or if there are attempts to access them without authorisation. 

Plus, contractors and personnel can access the cabinet with a prox card, by entering a PIN on the touchscreen – or with biometrics (eg fingerprint, facial recognition). Multi-factor authentication is available for heightened security.

When someone needs a key, the cabinet will only release the one(s) which that person is allowed access to – the rest will stay locked in place. Then, once a key is removed, Wayne will know exactly who has it and for how long.   This bolsters key control and security enormously.

Security is one thing – it also boosts hygiene

Automated key control is about reducing the number of keys required across sites and buildings.

But it’s also about reducing the number of people handling those keys.

Using a solution like Torus means people can retrieve their keys from a strategically placed cabinet instead of from the last person who had them (or the staff in charge of them). They don’t need to go to a central location to receive a key that is to access a facility which may be miles away.

This is important for all industries, but in the health sector, limiting person-to-person contact is especially critical.

For obvious reasons, it helps prevent the spread of viruses like COVID-19. Most bacteria can only survive on surfaces for a few hours, but that still leaves a window of opportunity for germs to jump from person to person.

Even with safety precautions in place – face masks, sanitiser, social distancing – nothing is as effective as simply reducing contact between people.

And, once an authorised user has logged into the system, they can retrieve and return keys without handling the touchscreen again.

Cabinets also eliminate the need for security and reception staff to be handling keys. And that’s a huge time and cost saver.

If this is where we are now… where are we headed?

At Torus, we’re excited to be at the forefront of key control technology.

Right now, Torus is the most advanced solution available. But we by no means see our product as the final frontier of key control. We’re always looking ahead to what’s next.

So what might that be?

Like Torus, many of our technology partners provide access control solutions that enable building and facility access via proximity cards, PIN or biometrics.

And that gives security managers real-time control and visibility – all withoutthe need for physical keys.

But innovation never stops.

Technology is constantly moving towards more seamless experiences. Smartphone technology is emerging as a new means of access – as are wearable devices. In the future, we expect this to only become more widespread.

There’s a lot to be excited about for the future of access control. At Torus, we are committed to staying at the forefront of these developments.

And most importantly, we’re committed to providing our customers with the most secure solutions on the market.