The New Standard
Connected locks can rely on Wi-Fi as a solution
- By Robert Goff
- Oct 01, 2015
As the Internet of Things becomes more prevalent in today’s world,
smart locks and access control systems are at the heart of the
revolution. Costly wired systems are being replaced with wireless,
cloud-based solutions that deliver remote management and monitoring.
With solutions like Wi-Fi locks, companies can manage
access to offices, retail, gyms, rentals, and other businesses via the web.
SELECTING THE RIGHT SMART LOCK
Selecting the best access control solution really depends upon each individual application.
However, more and more installations are gravitating towards Wi-Fi
locks as Wi-Fi is nearly ubiquitous throughout residential homes and business
facilities. The ability to leverage a home or business’s existing Wi-Fi network is
a huge advantage that eliminates the expense and hassle of installing a separate
radio frequency network just for connected devices.
Further evidence of the growing support for the Wi-Fi standard in connected
devices can be seen with the Apple Home Kit and Google OnHub, which have
both made Wi-Fi a pillar in their infrastructure.
THE EVOLUTION OF KEYLESS ACCESS CONTROL AND CONNECTED LOCKS
For decades, companies have searched to add functionality by keeping things simpler.
The evolution from keys to Smart Locks has looked something like this:
- Mechanical locks got rid of keys but didn’t solve the issue of multiple user
- Electronic locks offered multiple codes but remote management or time-based
- Algorithmic locks delivered remote management and scheduled permissions
but no real-time control or notifications.
- Zigbee and Zwave internet connected locks give immediate control and alerts
but require additional bridges and expense to build the mesh networks.
- Wi-Fi locks are managed on existing networks and are easily provisioned.
POWER MANAGEMENT AND BATTERY LIFE
What about power management and battery drain? This is the most common message
from large home automation companies—Wi-Fi won’t work because it drains
batteries too fast.
Devices, like the RemoteLock 6i,
communicate through regular Wi-Fi
network; however they’re not always
connected to this network. Once a lock
is connected to the network, the lock
will begin checking in with servers at a
regular interval called a “heartbeat.”
Each time the lock heartbeats it will
check for new commands, such as locking
or unlocking the door or receiving
a new schedule or user code. This
heartbeat interval is used to save battery
power in the lock. And each time
the lock is touched it can wake up and
automatically connect to the server to
get its updates and report access events
to the cloud.
For instance, if you have someone
outside the house that you wish to let
in, but don’t want to give them a code,
simply unlock from your smartphone,
and then instruct that person to press
any button on the lock to wake it up, receive
the command from the cloud and
unlock the door.
THE BEST SOLUTIONS
While IoT is starting to “cross the
chasm” with more people adding connected
devices, home automation has
always been a luxury for consumers.
Businesses, on the other hand, are
always looking to solve pain points
through solutions. Rekeying doors
when employees leave, tracking when
people use specified doors, giving employees
or service contractors access at
only certain times, even limiting access
to certain areas.
Certainly, there have been systems
that manage doors through cables, electric
strikes, keypads, and proxy credentials.
But, the reality is most companies
don’t have the budget for these expensive
systems, and even if they do they
can’t afford to include internal doors
like conference rooms on the access
Now wireless management of locks,
cameras, sensors and other solutions
allow commercial buildings to add access
control that is managed through
smart phones and computers. We estimate
that so far only 1 to 2 percent
of all business access control systems
are currently cloud controlled, and the
demand is growing rapidly. (How’s that
for a great market opportunity for security
Over the last few years the use of cloudbased
building access systems has been
accelerating. This has been driven by
the need for business customers to allow
temporary access to a building
for contract workers, employees and
guests; to be notified when certain people
enter the building or when strange
behaviors occur (like multiple entries
at night); and the need to do it all remotely
through their phone or laptop.
But the resounding request from
our customers was to include all their
doors on the system and not just outside
doors. The problem is, of course,
cost. A typical access control system
can start at as much as $4,000 per door,
and adding a storage room, conference
room or small internal office makes it
hard to justify the cost.
To address these needs, lock manufacturers
are starting to offer Wi-Fi
enabled products such as the RemoteLock
6i, a Wi-Fi enabled electronic
lever lock. It can be installed in under
30 minutes on any standard door, and
can be a standalone or connected to the
same cloud-based access control system
as the external doors.
BENEFITS OF WI-FI ENABLED
LOCKS AND CLOUD-BASED ACS
With internal doors being added to
more cost effective cloud-based access
control, small businesses now can add
these security features to their buildings
without having to break the budget.
And for a cost as low as a few thousand dollars, a building can utilize a front
door with an electric strike and keypad,
and then add internal Wi-Fi locks to
common areas that need monitored.
The benefits to these systems are many.
- Know when and who enters both
internal and external doors on the
- Add additional doors that need monitoring,
even if at another location.
- Take away or grant users temporary
or permanent access from multiple
- With smart phone controlled access,
managers can monitor remotely.
- Use to check when employees start
the day through the reporting on the
- Give limited time for entry for cleaning
crews and other contractors.
- Instant deleting of accounts for terminated
- Rules-based control for other devices—
turns on light when door is
Wi-Fi locks and cloud-based access
control solutions are being used now in
multi-family apartment buildings and
short-term rentals, like Airbnb and HomeAway.
They are the perfect, keyless
answer to give both owners and renters
control over their property, even if it is
Apartment owners and managers are
recognizing the benefits of using Wi-Fi
to remotely manage without the need for
keys—and the pricey rekeying that occurs
in tenant and employee transitions.
Using cloud-controlled Wi-Fi locks allows
owners and managers to:
- Eliminate the cost of changing or rekeying
locks after each lease.
- Eliminate the risk of terminated
employees having duplicate keys to
buildings and units.
- Let service people in remotely with
temporary codes and know when
Using Wi-Fi locks for units allows
- Give temporary codes to house
- Allow neighbors temporary access
when the pet needs feeding.
- Get text alerts when children arrive
home from school.
With all apartment doors and common
area doors on the same system,
the entire building can be monitored
and controlled either remotely or on
premise via smartphone or computer.
Tenants can be provided keyless access
to laundry rooms, health clubs, business
centers and pools, and their access
can be immediately terminated when
they move out. Managers and employees
can get access to boiler rooms, supply
closets, and offices and their access
can also be terminated when they leave
SHORT-TERM AND VACATION
Not only are Wi-Fi locks changing the
way the multi-family rental industry is
being managed, but there is another booming market that is looking to connected locks to solve problems; the shortterm
rental and vacation rental industries. Managers in these markets are using
Wi-Fi locks to:
- Let guests in remotely with lock codes they receive when booking the room.
- Limit the time guest codes are active to the duration of their stay.
- Limit access for cleaning and service companies to the specific times they need
to be in the units.
- Add additional days if guests decide to extend the stay.
- Use keypad codes to keep the guest’s experience simple and positive—no need
for guests to download a smartphone app or to carry a smartphone.
Smart locks are becoming a key part of the new hospitality industry that depends
on internet-based solutions like online booking, remote management, and
flexibility to make real-time changes.
THE INTERNET OF THINGS SOLVES BUSINESS PROBLEMS
Wi-Fi locks deliver to traditional and revolutionary businesses the best way to
manage security in their operations. By connecting via existing Wi-Fi networks,
companies get a full management solution for their security.
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Security Today.