The Evolution of Key Management and Access Control Systems

Traditional key management systems have evolved and are now a small percentage among many options for physical plant access control systems. This is primarily because of the advancements in technology from hard keys and locks to electronic key cards, computerized locking mechanisms, and many other advanced technologies.

We’re here today to talk about the evolution of key management and access control systems. We’ll then cover best practices for today’s facility personnel on hard key management and how to manage access control systems.

Why is access control relevant?

The facility department is often dubbed responsible for managing the keys and access to a building. Nowadays, facilities often oversees security whether there’s an in house department or third party vendors. Physical security (nevermind cyber security – a post for another day) is a top priority for us here at ONE SOURCE and for every facility manager.

Physical access control is now much more complex that handing out keys, logging (or not) who has what, and re-keying locks. Therefore, the facilities department often manages the physical access control system as a whole and in partnership with other security and monitoring resources.

Let’s begin at, well, the beginning.

Think back to the days of simple hard keys and locks. Who ever had the key, could open the door at their leisure with no restriction on the time or day they could enter. If the key was lost, or the lock was re-keyed, the person no longer had access. There was a lack of control on how many key copies existed and who was actually using the key. This created a major security threat to physical spaces.

Fast forward to today where technology has paved a new path to greater security controls and systems. New electronic access mechanisms allow for remote, computerized controls over who can enter where and when. With cameras and advanced integration of systems, the security access control person can monitor (often live) exactly who is entering and exiting each access point.

Types of access systems.

There are numerous access systems available and we won’t discuss them all today. There’s wired and wireless access control systems, keyless entry, cloud-based access management, keypad controlled, and biometric entry systems to name just a few. We won’t get into detail here but click through the links at the end of this blog for additional resources. As always, we’re happy to do some feasibility research for your facility if you’re interested in a process change or system upgrade. Click here or call 203-741-8770 to set up an appointment with our field services team.

Instead, we’d like to offer up our 5 best practices for managing, monitoring, and controlling whichever access system you have in place.

Best Practices for Access Control Systems

  1. Audit and benchmark your current system. Make yourself an exhaustive list of every building access point, what the control system is in place for each, who is monitoring and controlling each access point, and where you need to improve. Do this once a year at least, or after any renovation or large project.
  2. Evaluate opportunities for increased security. One of evolution’s biggest critics is the person who says “we’ve always done it this way.” Imagine the time and effort you can save by implementing systems that are integrated with your building, collecting access data, and centrally controlled for instant updates as access needs change. If you can’t update your locking mechanisms, update the way you monitor and control the process for tracking keys and their users.
  3. Identification, authentication, authorization: These are three components your access control system should address. Whatever system you chose, the goal for the greatest level of security should be for your system to be able to identify, authenticate identity, and authorize entry.
  4. Create process, procedure, and training. Building occupants need to know who is in control of the access control system, what their access level is, and how to use the system. Be prepared to train new building occupants on the process and procedures regarding access.
  5. Be centralized and consistent. This one might sound a little vague, but here’s what’s important: Building occupants need to know the process and procedure and it needs to be the same for everyone. For the administrator, have a centralized hub to distribute keys and maintain the access system.

Let’s get to the point.

The purpose of key management and access control is to increase security for your building occupants. By following these best practices, the facility access control administrator will be most effective and the building will have increased security.

Check out the links below to more resources that dive deeper into this topic. We want all building owner’s and managers to have all the best information and resources so they can make the best decisions for their buildings. Our mission, as we’ve recently revised and released, is to provide expertise and concierge-level customer service to corporate clients in support of their strategic facility management goals.

Thank you for reading this post and check back every other week for more tips and tricks on managing your facilities.

Additional Resources From Around The Web:

Understanding Key Management Systems

Common Commercial Door Locks

Differences in Wired and Wireless Access Control Systems

Benefits of Electronic Access Control

Mariel Nowack

Leave a Comment