Keyless access control systems are becoming more common, especially to safeguard critical infrastructure and remote sites. While there are a number of benefits to going keyless, there is always a risk of low adoption. In our experience, the reliability of a solution, whether actual or perceived, is the most significant factor in a successful implementation.
In short: if the people using electronic keys aren’t able to successfully open what they need to open, it threatens the adoption of a chosen solution. And without widespread adoption, companies lose out on the benefits of implementing a keyless solution, like cost savings, identity control, scalability, and operational insights.
So, what does reliability mean?
Reliability means that locks open when a user tries to open them. It’s that simple. Or is it?
All locking systems have a mechanical element to them, and all mechanical elements are prone to failures. Rust, wear and tear, freezing, and other extreme conditions can all lead to mechanical failure. Electronic elements are also prone to failure. Sometimes components get lost, sometimes devices break, sometimes batteries die. And when these elements fail, the lock is considered less reliable.
How can reliability be achieved?
There are two approaches to achieving reliability in opening a lock:
- Precision manufacturing and design for high-reliability use in rough environments
Locks need to be able to stand up to extreme conditions—environmental, or otherwise. Moisture, temperature, extreme weather, and other environmental conditions can all affect the performance of a lock over time. And people will try to break into whatever is being secured. Locks need to be designed and manufactured to stand up under almost any condition, over and over, without issue.
- Reducing the number of points of failure
This is where electronic key systems have traditionally had fundamental challenges. Electronic keys can fail. Batteries run out of juice, people drop them or otherwise damage them, or people lose them. Electronic key chargers can fail. Electronic key data relays and local servers can fail. The electronic lock itself, like a cylinder or padlocks, can fail. The central management system can fail. And when they do (because they will), it’s frustrating and inconvenient for the person trying to open the lock.
That’s a lot of failure. Is there any hope?
Yes! A good keyless system eliminates many of the electronic points of failure above, reducing opportunities for unsuccessful opens. Yes, electronic locks can fail. Yes, smartphones can fail. (Even though most people can’t even remember a time their smartphone spontaneously failed, a good keyless system includes a failsafe). Yes, the software can experience temporary outages. But these are all far less likely than the key itself causing a problem.
When the electronic key is the weak point in an electronic access control system, it’s time to consider going keyless, because it means your system isn’t reliable.
Reliability means that key management is always available.
In order to deliver a truly reliable keyless access control system, providers must invest in modern, high-reliability, self-healing, self-monitoring cloud server architectures.
When an access management service relies on one computer, (whether it’s on-premises or cloud-based), this system does not deliver high-reliability. Hardware faults inevitably happen to all hardware at one point or another. Reliability is all about having redundancy and monitoring to prevent a single failure from taking out a system. Reliability is all about enabling 9,999 successful accesses out of 10,000 attempts, and a >99.9% uptime on admin service (which are, coincidentally, Teleporte’s most recent stats).
The Consequences of Unreliable Systems
Key management system reliability is more important than it may sound at first pass. If it’s just a question of the admin dashboard at the NOC being unavailable on rare occasions for a time, this is easy to trivialize. But most access control systems are integrated into workflow automations. Having the access control automations stop can bring an entire operation to a halt.
And don’t underestimate the impact that unreliable systems have on the people that use them. To realize the many benefits of keyless access control, the system must be used. People will not embrace a system that makes their jobs more difficult. Much in the same way that people resist corporate software that doesn’t meet their needs, and compensate with shadow IT, your employees will find a way around a system that they can’t count on. The best way to ensure adoption of a keyless access control solution is to provide a reliable system that helps people do their jobs, instead of hindering it.
We’ve worked with a number of organizations to help maximize adoption of reliable keyless solutions, and we’ve come up with a pretty great list of dos and don’ts. If you’d like to learn more about whether Teleporte is right for you, get in touch.