Key Management Takes Flight in Tallahassee

In 2017, after attending a national security conference, Thomas Vergo returned to his Tallahassee International Airport (TLH) office with a profound idea. Placing a significant item on both his boss's and director's desks, he sought to revolutionize their approach to access control.

Little did they anticipate the pivotal role this seemingly innocuous item would play in their everyday operations for years to come.

Sprawling across more than 2,400 acres, the Tallahassee International Airport, in northwest Florida serves nearly 1 million passengers annually. Beyond its impressive terminal lies a sprawling campus, housing an array of structures-from an air traffic control tower and cargo hangars to maintenance facilities and a fire station.

Managing access across this diverse collection of buildings calls for an all-encompassing and streamlined approach to key management. Enter the key fob that Vergo strategically placed on the desktops of his executives — an embodiment of comprehensive and efficient access control solutions.

Emerging as a cornerstone of Vergo's vision for enhanced operational efficiency, the fob served as a crucial component of his consideration for a cutting-edge key management system. Upon arriving at TLH in 2014, he discovered the workflow for key management involved using an archaic paper-based, log-book method to tracking physical key usage. Not only was this a cumbersome task, but hunting down lost keys regularly befell managers. Additionally, manually checking out restricted keys proved to be a time-consuming affair, particularly when managers were busy with more pressing matters across the airport.

Less than a year after it was first introduced by Vergo to his executives, TLH purchased its first system in 2018, paving the way for the realization of reduced employee downtime and lower production costs.

Since purchasing their key management system, TLH has experienced a clear difference in operational efficiency. One of the first things noticed was the reduction of master keys as they realized fewer masters and grand masters were needed when they were managed and stored in central location.

Additionally, if a crew member needed multiple keys throughout a shift, he or she could check out a duty ring with multiple keys attached to a single fob. This method consolidated where keys were stored and reduced the liability of stolen, duplicated or misplaced masters.

With a keen eye for optimization, Vergo has harnessed the power of auditing and monitoring through the strategic implementation of a cutting-edge key management system. By acquiring a comprehensive solution, he now enjoys a bird's-eye view of who has checked out which key and precisely when.

Leveraging this technology, Vergo effectively imposes access restrictions, curfews and alerts, enabling him to swiftly address any key-related anomalies. As a result, not only does he relish the peace of mind that comes from an organized key tracking system, but he also possesses invaluable resources to ensure compliance with stringent industry regulations. Indeed, in the event of any misconduct or mishap, Vergo possesses a crystal-clear audit trail, illuminating the key's journey with utmost clarity.

In a testament to the system's remarkable scalability, Vergo has unearthed yet another advantage of his key management solution. By initially acquiring two strategically positioned key cabinets across airport's expansive campus, he ensured optimal efficiency and heightened security. Recognizing the high demand at these pivotal touchpoints, Vergo's vision on improved security now paves the way for further expansion.

With an eye towards streamlining access to outdoor equipment and tools, he is considering the addition of another cabinet in the external maintenance building. This future-forward approach not only bolsters operational fluidity but also vividly illustrates the system's adaptability, empowering the airport to meet evolving demands with absolute ease.

The airport is gearing up for seven major projects and a new international processing facility, which will expand the Passenger Terminal Building another 40,000 sq feet. As construction ramps up, the airport's key management system is continuing to prove its value. With numerous contractors needing access to secure areas, Vergo and his team efficiently monitor key usage thanks to their streamlined system.

For TLH, gone are the days of creating new keys for each crew, as the comprehensive solution is now in place. Despite the wear and tear on the keys from frequent use, the airport's operations remain unaffected, a demonstration to the system's resilience.

“Since purchasing the cabinets, we haven’t had to replace a single fob,” Vergo said. “Some keys have been run over by equipment or dropped off a jet bridge, but we’ve never had a failure of the key fobs.”

Tallahassee’s airport serves as a reminder of the multifaceted layers of access control within an airport's operational environment. From the terminal to the farthest reaches of its ever-growing infrastructure, operations managers bear the weighty responsibility of maintaining a comprehensive view of all circulating keys and the areas they access, swiftly resolving any instances of loss or misplacement.

With their implementation of a robust key management system, Vergo and his team have not only risen to this challenge of reducing costs and improving processes but have also bolstered the airport's security

This article originally appeared in the March / April 2024 issue of Security Today.


  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    7 Ways You Can Secure a High-Traffic Commercial Security Gate  

    Your commercial security gate is one of your most powerful tools to keep thieves off your property. Without a security gate, your commercial perimeter security plan is all for nothing. Read Now

  • Making Safety and Security Intrinsic to School Design

    Public anxieties about school safety are escalating across the country. According to a 2023 Gallup report, 44% of parents fear for their child’s physical safety at school, a 10 percentage-point increase since 2019. Unfortunately, these fears are likely to increase if the incidence of school tragedies continues to mount. As a result, school leaders are now charged with two non-negotiable responsibilities. The first, as always, is to ensure kids have what they need to learn, grow, and thrive. Sadly, their second responsibility is to keep the children in their care safe from threats and physical danger. Read Now

  • The Power of a Layered Approach to Safety

    In a perfect world, every school would have an unlimited budget to help secure their schools. In reality, schools must prioritize what budget they have while navigating the complexities surrounding school security and lockdown. Read Now

  • How a Security System Can Enhance Arena Safety and the Fan Experience

    Ensuring guests have both a memorable experience and a safe one is no small feat for your physical security team. Stadiums, ballparks, arenas, and other large event venues are increasingly leveraging new technologies to transform the fan experience and maintain a high level of security. The goal is to preserve the integrity and excitement of the event while enhancing security and remaining “behind the scenes.” Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity


New Products

  • QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC)

    QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC)

    The latest Qualcomm® Vision Intelligence Platform offers next-generation smart camera IoT solutions to improve safety and security across enterprises, cities and spaces. The Vision Intelligence Platform was expanded in March 2022 with the introduction of the QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC), which delivers superior artificial intelligence (AI) inferencing at the edge. 3

  • A8V MIND

    A8V MIND

    Hexagon’s Geosystems presents a portable version of its Accur8vision detection system. A rugged all-in-one solution, the A8V MIND (Mobile Intrusion Detection) is designed to provide flexible protection of critical outdoor infrastructure and objects. Hexagon’s Accur8vision is a volumetric detection system that employs LiDAR technology to safeguard entire areas. Whenever it detects movement in a specified zone, it automatically differentiates a threat from a nonthreat, and immediately notifies security staff if necessary. Person detection is carried out within a radius of 80 meters from this device. Connected remotely via a portable computer device, it enables remote surveillance and does not depend on security staff patrolling the area. 3

  • Mobile Safe Shield

    Mobile Safe Shield

    SafeWood Designs, Inc., a manufacturer of patented bullet resistant products, is excited to announce the launch of the Mobile Safe Shield. The Mobile Safe Shield is a moveable bullet resistant shield that provides protection in the event of an assailant and supplies cover in the event of an active shooter. With a heavy-duty steel frame, quality castor wheels, and bullet resistant core, the Mobile Safe Shield is a perfect addition to any guard station, security desks, courthouses, police stations, schools, office spaces and more. The Mobile Safe Shield is incredibly customizable. Bullet resistant materials are available in UL 752 Levels 1 through 8 and include glass, white board, tack board, veneer, and plastic laminate. Flexibility in bullet resistant materials allows for the Mobile Safe Shield to blend more with current interior décor for a seamless design aesthetic. Optional custom paint colors are also available for the steel frame. 3