IndustrySafety & Security

What are the latest door lock developments?

Tongues and grooves may have ruled for two thousand years, but hotel door locks are now all about waves.

Electronic locks have opened the doors to accessing a property’s car parks and guest suites, pool decks, and gym rooms with just a flourish of a card, wristband, or smartphone.

All doors throughout your accom property – whether it is the Hilton or a hostel – can be controlled and managed through an electronic system which automatically generates and monitors keys for check-ins.

Access control management software can configure locks to access specific areas at set hours of the day on particular days of the week. And wireless solutions allow commands to be sent remotely to the locks in situations such as guest lockout or lost key cancellation.

Of course, as well providing speedy and hassle-free access, latest technology must deliver on the basics of safety and reliability.

Security has previously been an issue for touchless check-in systems, but manufacturers have developed several safeguards to prevent issues of data theft.

Quality suppliers ensure access rights are sent as an encrypted digital key over-the-air using a secured transmission based on SSL (secure sockets layer) protocols. The digital key is protected by anti-cloning technology and can be deleted at any time. Suppliers can also provide an application programming interface for hotels to embed the mobile key within their own app.

So, what are the latest technological developments in door locking, and how do they make life easier for managers and guests?

 BLE (Bluetooth low energy) is the newest kid on the block when it comes to digital door locking technology. It provides hoteliers with the opportunity to offer mobile access via gusts’ guest own devices, significantly without draining the battery life of those devices. BLE only activates radio communication when needed and by transmitting small data packages at low transfer speeds, so it draws very little energy.

NFC (near-field communication) similarly allows guests to use their smartphone as a mobile key, although is beginning to be superceded by the superior functionality of BLE. Both systems, though, allow guests to receive a key anytime, anywhere, allowing them to arrive outside of hours or skip the check-in process entirely.

Mobile keys obviously offer a more cost effective and environmentally sustainable locking solution than physical cards, and they reduce the chances of lockouts and lost keys.

While NFC/BLE keys are increasingly being used for guest access, the majority of accom operators choose to issue their staff with RFID (radio frequency identification) smartcards.

Doubling as an ID badge, these cards can store the user’s access rights and information, collect audit trails and interact with numerous third-party systems, making them a flexible way to keep tabs on staff and offline doors.

An industry insider told us about RFID: “When implemented as part of an online system, additional benefits include being able to remotely and instantly deactivate cards that are suspected of being stolen or receiving alerts that inform staff that a wandering intruder is attempting to use a keycard on several doors throughout a property.”

For accom providers, it is worth noting that a combination of solutions may work best to service your needs. All these technologies can be complementary within a property in creating the most cost-efficient, flexible and secure access control system.

As keyless door locks continue their ascendancy, is this the end for magnetic stripe cards?

The short answer is yes. Mag stripe technology, offering very little from unauthorised keycard cloning, has had its day.

The information stored on these cards is easily erased by any low magnetic field, which creates frustration and inconvenience for guests having to continuously visit reception to have their card re-encoded. And as they rely on friction, stripes can become worn and unable to be read.

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