NETWORK-CONNECTED LOCKS ARE HERE TO STAY

By Travis Ferry, Senior Electrical Engineer, Sargent and Greenleaf

In a 2018 Forbes article discussing the Internet of Things (IoT), it was predicted that, last year alone, the number of connected devices would top 11 billion, not including computers or phones, underscoring that people want convenient, fast and secure access control for a variety of applications. And now, with the continuous change in today’s technological advancements and developments, being connected 24/7 is the norm. Most consumers are familiar with IoT devices like smart home devices – thermostats, doorbell cameras, virtual assistants, music speakers, wearables – and, now, the security industry, including applications in retail stores and commercial environments, have also tapped into network-connected devices.

In order to understand the value of these network-connected locks, let’s understand how they work. IoT, which is universally referenced on a regular basis, indicates the ever-growing network of physical objects, such as speakers and headphones. These all utilize an Internet Protocol (IP) address to communicate and connect with other internet-enabled devices, such as phones, computers and iPads. The most important aspect of these locks is communication, and how the devices interact with each other. For example, IP is a communication method that allows everyday devices to send data across the network to each other.

Most significant for safe locks (including Sargent and Greenleaf’s newest high-security lock, NexusIP™), are applications that allow for increased convenience – and, a more secure solution to electronic access control for retail and other commercial facilities.

 

Expansive Remote Monitoring Capabilities
One of the most beneficial features are the remote monitoring capabilities that are present with an IP safe lock. Users are able to respond faster and smarter without having to physically access the lock. The remote capabilities include establishing different levels of access, granting access either permanently or temporarily, setting schedules, performing audits, enable and disable locks, and receiving real-time alerts through a user-friendly software interface.

In addition to the remote monitoring capabilities available, other features assist with day-to-day use, as well. Retail businesses, for example, that schedule different managers throughout a day – all needing access to the same location – can be permitted access, control multiple levels of oversight and enable and disable the lock, which all can be done from a remote location. In the example of S&G’s NexusIP, users can assign four independent schedules for up to 100 users. The easy-to-use flexible design permits easily downloadable audit trails where managers can identify who accessed the safe and at what time. Advanced security features also include a penalty lockout due to random code entry attempts and a 99-minute time delay in the event too many codes were entered.

Specifically, with NexusIP’s ability to use existing Wi-Fi systems that are already in place, there is no need for peripheral components or drilling. This allows for a more streamlined installation process. For this setup, additional wiring is not required, resulting in reduced costs, that can be up to less than half of a traditional wired system. These locks are integrated with more technical information, so it is easier to operate and can be used for one lock or a multi-lock location.

Increased Convenience
Today, people are always on the move and want things to happen quickly. When it comes to safes, the use of old mechanical combination locks does not lend themselves to current needs and situations. Those locks, whose true origins date back to the Roman periods, are tedious, take substantial time to open and only accessible with a specific key. So, the decision to switch over to a network-connected safe lock is usually based on convenience; gone is the cumbersome memorization of a long numerical combination or carrying around bulky keys, and, ultimately, losing the keys with the chance of them ending up in the “wrong hands”.

Users never have to worry about the lock not working during a power loss or internet blackout. For example, NexusIP is powered externally, but also has a battery backup in the event of power loss. In the case of a lost internet signal, all data and communication will continue to be stored on a continuous basis until connectivity is available again, and, once available, connectivity and audit events synchronise wirelessly. These features allow users the convenience of not having to constantly check if data is being stored or if the lock is going to lose power.

More Secure
There are still those – and, sometimes, rightfully so – that are hesitant to connect important things to the internet. However, since data between these devices are transferred over a network, additional security measures are required. S&G’s NexusIP has additional encryption within the lock, as well as the communication between the lock and wireless internet.

These supplementary encryption routines are already on top of the firewall and other security features that are in place through the wireless internet service provider, making it even more difficult to compromise. Keep in mind, there are so many security methods – hardware, software, etc. – to prevent malware or other malicious attacks on the lock daily.

The Result
These main benefits, as well as other numerous features that support them, only add to the motivation to change to a network-connected safe lock, and, only enhancing the user experience. If you are securing jewellery, money, and assets, for example, IP safe lock technologies are only continuing to advance, and investing in these locks now can result in a simpler retrofit in the future to continually accommodate new product ranges and changes to software improvements.

Although mechanical safe locks will continue to be used, the functionality that electronic access control can provide is a leading benefit for connected devices. The technology is already here, and here to stay. And, no matter how much access control technology will continue to change, whether that be biometric verification, radio-frequency identification (RFID) or other advancements, having the ability to lock doors, safes and vaults to protect property will always be a need.

For more info, visit www.sargentandgreenleaf.com

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