Facility Dude

The ups and downs of electronic locks

By Kate Donnelly
Nov 25, 2014

Facilities Management

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Security is an area that facility managers have a growing interest in increasing as much as possible. New infrastructure, hardware, from cameras to checkpoints, have all been implemented as a means of keeping buildings more secure.

One fairly low-cost solution that is fairly popular is electronic locks. While they do provide an added measure of security for facilities, facility managers should be wary of some of the potential shortfalls they may be prone to.

A new level of access control

The ups and downs of electronic locks Access control is one of the most fundamental aspects of building security. According to Buildings, many efforts in this area have previously focused on securing building exteriors, but the source noted that there's also significant potential for FMs to increase their interior building security with these measures as well. Buildings highlighted the added security from electronic locks in the form of access information - by installing these locks on things like inventory lockers or server rooms, it's possible not only to keep these areas secure but also to receive information on exactly when they were accessed, thanks to building automation and analytics.

Not only do electronic locks offer more in the way of monitoring and information for critical areas, they're also more secure than their low-tech counterparts. According to FacilitiesNet, electronic locks can't be manually picked the way that conventional locks can. What's more, they don't require external power, so power loss to the building won't compromise security. Additionally, they offer a scalable security solution - the source pointed out that multiple-key locks can be installed, requiring users to pass through several electronically locked checkpoints to access an area.

Not a perfect solution

While electronic locks can provide a boost to facility security, Today's Facility Manager warned that they aren't necessarily a catch-all solution. For example, the source pointed out electronic locks' override mechanism as a potential weak point in their security. What's more, the cheaper the hardware, the more likely it will be that security shortcuts have been built in, which can severely compromise security.

Also worth paying attention to are the requirements placed on facilities in various industries. Healthcare facilities, for example, have more stringent security standards regarding certain areas than a commercial building would. As with any other aspect of building maintenance, regular inspection and audits are essential for keeping security intact. Today's Facility Manager highlighted the importance of regular ingress and egress reports, so FMs can keep track of whether the data collection function of electronic locks is working properly.

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