Key Management

Industry Vertical

Key Management

Benefits include improvements to cost, productivity, efficiency, security and convenience

More than ever, the incidents of theft and property crime as well as information security are of greater concern for corporations, universities, hospitals and other large organizations. A comprehensive security plan is first and foremost in addressing many of these concerns. There are, however, a number of factors that go into creating and implementing a security plan that will provide the level of safety and security these facilities need.

Meeting the Challenges

One potential challenge is the tendency for organizations to have multiple systems such as payroll, access control, human resources and key control that rely on some of the same data and information. Managed separately, they create unnecessary extra work for staff and leave open the potential for security vulnerabilities.

Increasingly, end users are demanding greater levels of connectivity between systems and manufacturers are responding with open architecture solutions and partner certifications that allow integration. It only makes sense to incorporate key control, as physical keys continue to play a major role in most organizations’ security programs.

Today’s key control solutions feature open protocols to allow the system to be networked and integrated with other technologies to streamline processes and eliminate redundancies across common points. Employees can be entered into one system and have their credentials, profile information, access group, etc. instantly transferred to other systems. The system can also pass data about transactions and alarms among integrated systems.

These and other benefits demonstrate the intrinsic value of a comprehensive security system that includes an integrated key control and management system. Following are five more specific benefits: cost, productivity, efficiency, security and convenience.

Cost. The costs in terms of labor and effort in maintaining separate system databases can quickly add up. Expenses such as training for each system, administration, information redundancies and the potential for costly errors can all be more efficiently addressed with an integrated system. For example, when a new employee comes on board, he or she must be added to all of these systems, which is often done with time-consuming and error-prone manual processes.

The degree of complication can be even higher when a person leaves and an organization must remove him or her from all systems and ensure the individual has returned any keys or other items that enable access to a building or areas within them. An integrated system manages all of these activities across the enterprise with a centralized approach.

Productivity. Every time the key cabinet is accessed and a key removed or returned, the activity is recorded including time, date and user name. The recorded data can be assembled in a tailored format to let authorized users more easily determine who has keys out and when they are scheduled to be returned versus poring through manual logs or reams of printouts. This operational intelligence, combined with data from various other security and surveillance systems, can lead to improved response times and improved allocation of resources.

Efficiency. Today’s advanced key management systems include functionality that lets them integrate with broader security systems, including identity management, access control, and visitor control. The centralized management platform allows management to more quickly locate staff or equipment in the event of an emergency situation, including facility visitors. Separate facilities throughout a campus can also be included on a single platform for more efficient control. In effect, a centralized system enables greater flexibility to add security components needed in the various buildings, keeping the cost of expenditures lower and requiring little additional training.

Security. With integrated procedures or alerts, if an individual leaves the premises with a key still in their possession, the access control system can communicate with the key management system of the individual’s departure from the area. Or, if a high value key is returned by an individual other than the one who originally accessed it, an integrated key management system allows an administrator to be notified of the event by text message or email. In these and other instances, an integrated system allows relationship information from the various systems to be analyzed and conclusions drawn so that necessary actions can be taken to prevent future occurrences.

Convenience. Key control systems with open protocols can be securely managed through an access control system enabling administrators to access the many rich features of the key control system. The tamper-proof key control systems are designed so that only authorized users, using pre-programmed PIN codes, access cards or biometrics, can access keys; on-board advanced technology automatically records all access activity. Also, a sophisticated interface can allow users to quickly and efficiently configure several user authorization parameters including add/modify/delete cardholders and badge data; associate key control site profiles to access system levels; configure which key control system alarms and transactions get passed to the access control system via alarms, and allow the configuration of an anti-egress feature, to name just a few.

Through integration, the security system becomes greater than the sum of its parts and it becomes more streamlined and effective. Key control systems are integral to the operation and a pre-requisite for ensuring a safer and more secure environment.

This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Security Today.

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