Sera4 Appoints Coastline Networks as Southern California Representative

WATERLOO, ONTARIO, January 26, 2021 – Sera4 has appointed Coastline Networks to represent its keyless access control solutions in Southern California.  

Coastline Networks Announcement Sera4 keyless access control security

 Based in San Clemente, California, and with 16 years of industry experience, Coastline Networks is focused on offering unique technology and network solutions to a variety of customers, including network integrators, data centers, cellular companies, and low voltage installers.  

Jeff Smullin, owner and founder at Coastline Networks, is looking forward to bringing Sera4’s keyless access control solutions to his customers. “(Sera4’s products) allow me to work in the the Distributed Antenna System (DAS) and cellular space with current customers. The lock controller also gives my integrators, low voltage installers, and data center partners an access control product to make all of their cabinets keyless.”  

As the owner of a growing company with a unique group of product lines, Smullin sees working with Sera4 as an opportunity to round out his portfolio and provide extra value to customers. “The security that the (Sera4) product brings to customers is unmatched,” says Smullin. “The ability to guarantee identity and the unlimited scalability gives our partners room to grow without additional fees.” 

Sera4 protects critical infrastructure in remote places around the globe. Sera4’s keyless platform for physical access control is both easy to use and highly secure. Operating across four continents, Sera4 provides security and identity control for some of the world’s largest service providers.  

“We’re thrilled to bring Jeff and Coastline Networks onboard as our representative firm for Southern California” says Eric Corej, VP of Sales at Sera4. “We’re looking forward to growing our relationship and helping Coastline deliver additional value, security, scalability, and reliability to their partners.” 

To learn more about Coastline Networks, connect with Jeff on LinkedIn, and follow Coastline on Facebook and Instagram. For more information about Sera4 access control solutions or to learn about partnering with Sera4, contact us.

Sera4 Certifies OptiNet as First Authorized Integrator in Western Canada

WATERLOO, ONTARIO, January 20, 2021 — OptiNet, a British Columbia-based technology services and solutions provider has been certified as Sera4’s first Authorized Integrator in Western Canada under a new certification program. 

Founded in 2001, OptiNet works with a range of organizations, from small business to enterprise, to provide telecom and IT consulting, structured cabling, and physical security services. With a number of clients across industries such as manufacturing, aviation, and municipalities, OptiNet was looking for a comprehensive wireless access control solution to offer its clients. 

James Robertson, Chief Executive Officer at OptiNet, sees an immediate opportunity for Sera4 solutions with a number of his municipal clients. “Municipalities are dealing with hundreds of doors and cabinets across hundreds of buildings. If a master key is lost, rekeying costs thousands of dollars and takes months,” says Robertson. “Offering a keyless access control solution to our clients allows us to disrupt the status quo. Often, our clients just accept that getting a key to a far-reaching area is inconvenient, or that rekeying is an expensive, time-consuming process. Sera4 solutions allow us to show our clients that there is a better way, and that we can solve a problem that they didn’t think could be solved.”  

Robertson believes that becoming a Sera4 Authorized Integrator is an excellent addition to OptiNet’s portfolio of solutions. “A key part of OptiNet’s vision and values is building a strong relationship with both customers and partners,” says Robertson. “We’re happy to partner with Sera4 and continue to build a strong relationship so we can continue to offer a more complete, comprehensive access control solution for our customers.”  

Sera4 protects critical infrastructure in remote places around the globe. Sera4’s keyless platform for physical access control is both easy to use and highly secure. Operating across four continents, Sera4 provides security and identity control for some of the world’s largest service providers.  

“We’re thrilled to certify OptiNet as our first Authorized Integrator in Western Canada and to provide a secure, reliable solution that helps them serve their customers better,” says David Coode, CEO at Sera4. “We’re looking forward to working together and growing our partnership.” 

For more information about Sera4 access control solutions or to learn about partnering with Sera4, contact us

Why Tower Companies and Mobile Network Operators Should Share Keyless Access Systems

A lot of value is unlocked (no pun intended!), for both the landlord (towerco) and tenant (MNO) when they share a system, not only from a security perspective, but from an operational efficiency perspective as well.

Keyless padlock on telecom MNO towerco gate

Shared Systems = Better Security

Imagine that every time you left the house, you put a lock on the refrigerator, but left the front door open. That wouldn’t make sense; someone could break the lock in the privacy of the house, or even steal the whole fridge, without much effort. But it’s analogous to what often happens when MNOs and towercos don’t share security systems or standards. MNOs put so much effort and stringency into the security of their networks, and often less so into the security of physical sites; especially sites that they don’t own or control. It’s critical for cybersecurity that MNOs have reliable control of who accesses network elements behind firewall protection. With physical keys, it’s hard to keep track of them, and therefore hard to ensure that bad actors can’t wreak havoc on the network. In markets where theft and vandalism are common, MNOs are at risk for major disruption if the security of the site is breached. In our opinion, MNOs should not accept a security standard from a towerco that is any less than their own asset security. The risk is too high. Our experience shows that, not only does sharing a keyless system on both the towerco and MNO assets eliminate the liability of physical keys and the potential for bad actors to get their hands on them, it also reduces petty theft and inside jobs on site. Identified people tend to behave themselves, and that’s what we’re really selling: identity. Sera4 provides a reliable mechanism for identifying which individuals are accessing which site, and when.

Work Better Together

In addition to reduced vandalism and theft, a shared wireless access control system improves operational efficiencies.

Reduce access control overhead
Sera4’s Teleporte platform allows administrators to automate key issuance based on work orders, whether from the towerco or the MNO. This automation reduces the overhead that comes with maintaining an access control system, and ensures that only specified individuals are gaining access when required.

Issue keys for multiple assets at once
On a shared system, administrators can issue keys for multiple assets at once, whether owned by the towerco or the MNO. Separate keys for the gate and the panel? No problem!

Remove logistical challenges of physical keys
With some towercos managing 200,000+ sites, it’s a logistical nightmare to get physical keys to contractors/staff who need them, when they need them. These challenges are eliminated with wireless keys, allowing towercos to serve their tenants faster, thereby serving the MNOs customers faster.

Improve end-user experience
End users only have to learn one system, and only need one app to not only access the site, but the assets within, like active equipment cabinets or panels.

Gain insights into on-site processes
Teleporte provides an on-site audit trail of when locks were opened and closed, allowing operations teams to optimize SOPs, manage resources appropriately, and identify when processes aren’t being followed.

We offer special packages for MNOs and towercos looking to implement a shared wireless access control system. Visit us at https://www.sera4.com/demo/ to learn more about how we can help you work better together.

FS Connect signs Master Distribution Agreement for sub-Saharan Africa with Canadian-based company, Sera4

FS Connect is excited to officially announce its partnership with Sera4 as the Master Distributor of their Keyless Access Control solution in sub-Saharan Africa.

Sera4 Armored Padlock

Sera4, a Canadian-based technology company which was founded in 2014, has expanded its presence into Central and South America, as well as the African continent, offering a keyless access solution which provides centralized management of digital keys through the use of smartphones.

This partnership allows distribution and support of the Sera4 access control solution within South and sub-Saharan Africa, enabling FS Connect to then also further support local businesses in offering the technology to their clients.

“Sera4 is such an exciting product for the African market as it offers truly disruptive innovation that is transforming access control technology like never before. We see this as a great fit / partnership as we focus more and more on cloud-based infrastructure” says Thabo Wessie, Managing Director of FS Connect.

“We’re thrilled to partner with FS Connect to bring secure, reliable, scalable keyless access control solutions to sub-Saharan Africa” says David Coode, CEO at Sera4. “We’re committed to protecting critical infrastructure around the globe, and we’re happy that FS Connect have selected us to round out their portfolio of security offerings.”

ABOUT FS CONNECT

FS Connect, a Johannesburg-based organisation, offers solutions in the life safety and electronic security industry, mostly driven by larger 4IR themes such as cloud computing and services, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence, and Video Analytics. See more here: https://www.fs-systems.co.za/fsconnect

CONTACT For more information contact Cathrine Herwill at [email protected].

When Wireless Infrastructure Changes Hands

With the rollout of 5G networks, wireless infrastructure assets, such as cellular towers, are becoming one of the most valuable real estate investments. With 300,000+ towers in the US and companies such as UnitiAT&T, and Phoenix Tower entering large scale tower deals over the last 18 months, it prompts a natural question: what does buying and selling physical wireless infrastructure mean for security? 

A Short History Lesson 

20 years ago, when the mobile network industry was exploding, wireless telecom operators bought up a lot of real estate to build towers to support their networks. These real estate holdings created a bunch of assets and liabilities, independent of the primary wireless network business. Management came up with a grand idea: sell off the assets and lease them back to run their networks. And the towerco was born. 

At the same time, smart entrepreneurs saw the opportunity to buy up land, erect a tower, and enter into lucrative contracts with carriers to host their antennas and equipment.  

Where Keyless Access Control Comes In 

Telecom towers are assets, being bought and sold all the time. The average tower transaction ranges from 1 to 50,000 towers. Sellers are looking to maximize the value of their portfolio for sale; buyers are looking to buy something that integrates into their existing operations, as seamlessly as possible, even at scale.  

Buyers of telecom assets have the same concerns as buyers of a new home. They wonder if whether they have keys for all the locks, and whether they all the keys have been returned or if there are still some floating around out there. Home buyers often solve this by changing the locks. Now, imagine you’re buying many houses at once and they’re spread across the countryside, sometimes without road access. Changing the locks is expensive and time-consuming, and creates a liability for the new buyer. A keyless access control solution, like Sera4’s padlocks and Teleporte platform, can help alleviate these challenges for both buyers and sellers. 

For sellers, including a wireless access control system in the sale increases the value of the portfolio because the locks can be sold as assets, along with the towers. Buyers are often willing to pay a premium because they trust that there aren’t any loose keys post-acquisition, and they’re acquiring a more efficient operation, complete with insights to help them optimize their processes.  

The value of assets beyond the towers themselves isn’t traditionally part of the consideration process in these transactions, but it should be. If you’d like to learn more about how Sera4 is helping telecom, and other industries, safeguard their physical infrastructure assets, book a demo at https://www.sera4.com/demo/.

We sell identity (not just access control)

Security. Reliability. Scalability. These are all things that we’re proud to provide to our customers, and that our customers have come to rely on. One thing we don’t talk about enough is identity. We have a suite of hardware and software solutions to help utilities, telecom, oil & gas, and other industries provide access control to their assets and critical infrastructure. But that’s not really what we’re selling. We’re selling identity intelligence, and we think it’s the most important thing we do.

The basics of identity intelligence are easy to understand: you want to know who’s accessing your assets, and when. That’s why our customers choose Sera4 over other types of access control solutions—in addition to high-quality wireless padlocks that eliminate the inherent challenges of traditional keys, Sera4 provides insights into which individuals are accessing your critical infrastructure, when they’re accessing it, and how long they’re staying.

Hand holding phone showing Sera4 access control app

These types of insights are useful for three reasons. First, and most simply, people behave better when they know they are being identified. We’ve found that vandalism on a telecom site is reduced by 60-80% when a person is tagged on site, and is held accountable for what happens while they’re there. Even when you have no bad actors in your organization or contractor network, that level of accountability helps ensure that individuals clean up and lock up the way they’re expected to.

Second, keyless locks provide automatic, real-time audit trails, eliminating the need for manual logs that are frequently subject to human error. For businesses that require audit trails for their own security or for certifications like ISO 9001, keyless locks provide much easier collection of these activity logs.

And third, and maybe most interestingly, is that once you know who is accessing controlled assets when, and how long they’re staying, you can learn a lot about processes in your organization, and how to optimize them and make them more efficient. This is why we released Work Sessions; using Teleporte, our customers can understand the flow of on site work, and gain insight into how long specific components of a process take.

Screenshot of Sera4 access control dashboard with map and audit log

Regularly analyzing audit trails and entry/exit data allows you to create a baseline for how long specific jobs take, and use that information to make better decisions. For example, these insights can help you define scope of work and billing with contractors. They can help you reconcile invoices for work performed—in fact, one of our customers is considering adding opening and closing the Sera4 lock to the SOP for all contractors, so he can analyze the data and find areas for improvement. The insights from Teleporte can also help you determine the capacity of and forecast changes for your workforce.

Our solutions allow our customers to manage identity across any number of sites, in any location, at scale. Whether you need 10 locks and keys, or 10,000, we provide a complete feature set and predictable, transparent pricing. If you’d like to see our solution in action, or learn more about how our customers are using Sera4 to safeguard their most critical assets, contact us.

Sera4 releases Device Restriction

We just completed updates of our Teleporte Servers (3.7) and released our Mobile App (5.5). We’re excited to share that Device Restriction is now available to all our Teleporte Enterprise subscribers.

This new feature gives control to Teleporte Administrators to limit the number of mobile phones to which Teleporte users can download keys. We are aware that some users are sharing their Teleporte credentials with other contractors to share keys. This practice obviously undermines the accuracy of the access logs and may expose our customers to risk of unauthorized entry. Administrators can now easily enable Device Restriction with a selection in the admin console.

Device Restriction works despite the upgraded privacy controls in the latest mobile operating systems. Users with multiple mobile devices connected with a Teleporte account will receive a message that only their primary device will download keys. In the event that they switch devices, as simple message to their administrator will update their primary device registration.

Device Restriction is another way that Sera4 innovates to provide security in keyless access. It will also improve the accuracy of your access logs. Please visit our support portal or contact us if you are interested in training on this new feature.

Keyless Padlocks in Winter

Winter is hard on padlocks. We know. We live in Canada. Cold can make oil sticky. Freezing rain and a hard frost can seal moving parts. Here are some things you should be considering when deploying keyless padlocks in a winter climate.

Battery Types

Most battery types (and all rechargeable types we know of) have significantly shorter battery life as temperatures drop below freezing. A typical rechargeable battery will not only lose charge in the cold, but will not recharge well in the cold either. Batteries that can’t perform in the cold will leave you locked out in the cold.

When a battery has charge, it needs to be designed for the cold to deliver its rated current in the cold. This is why automotive batteries in cold climates advertise Cold Cranking Amps. Lower current leads to less powerful or slower internal motor operation. This may result in a lock that does not open or close as it was designed to do.

The solution is simple. Ensure a battery is designed to work in the cold for reliable winter performance operation.

Sera4’s AP3 padlock uses replaceable Lithium Thionyl Chloride batteries. These military-grade batteries are formulated to perform similarly in the coldest and hottest natural temperatures on Earth.  In the event that the battery is out of power after a time (this happens to every battery), the micro-USB port is convenient and accessible and facilitates access. An added bonus is that maintenance is a lot faster on a replaceable battery than with a rechargeable padlock. We can also deliver our products will full charge and ready-to-deploy, where rechargeable batteries need to ship at 30% charge.

Electronics

Electronics used outdoors in the winter must be designed and qualified for reliable use in cold temperatures. Consider that most consumer electronics in winter climates is still consistently used above the freezing point. Electronics require additional design and quality considerations to function reliably in deep cold. Designing electronics for the cold follows well-known quality standards (such as AEC-Q100), requiring specific attention during product development. We don’t expect consumer-grade electronics to consistently work outside in the dead of winter.

Ice Buildup

You should be concerned about ice buildup on padlocks in the winter. Humidity or water can get into parts of a lock and then freeze. Once there is solid ice around a mechanism that needs to move to open or close, the best thing to do is to melt the ice.  This is obviously inconvenient. We recommend focusing on simple installation tricks that will keep precipitation off the padlock in the first place.

AP3 is IP66-certified, so it will be fine to be left out for years in the rain. In winter climates, we recommend installing a simple vinyl flap over top of the padlock as shown below. This simple solution has proven in our tests to be more effective than more complicated approaches. 

In case you do find a padlock with significant ice deposits, try to resist the urge to hit at it with a hammer to chip away at accumulated ice. This usually only removes superficial ice and can result in surface/finish damage to the padlock body or shackle. Instead, try pressing the shackle deeper into the lock body. This will often dislodge stuck compoenents. Another smart option is to use a lock de-icer fluid. These bottles are small, inexpensive and effective.

Don’t let winter get between you and the benefits of going keyless. With the right products and a little bit of care during installation and operation, winter won’t be an issue. Feel free to talk to us if you have any questions about padlocks in winter weather.

We’re moving!

As of today, we’ve moved our headquarters to a new larger office. Not only does this accommodate our growth, but we now on the ground level with on-site warehouse and production areas.

Our new mailing address is

Sera4 Ltd.
100-630 Weber Street North
Waterloo, Ontario
Canada
N2V 2N2

We plan to hold an open house, but we will have to wait until it is safe, after the pandemic.

Sera4 (Virtually) Exhibiting at AfricaCom 2020

In recognition of the continuous growth in demand for reliable access control in Africa, Sera4 is committed to supporting and developing its customer base in Africa. Sera4 will be virtually exhibiting at the Africacom 2020 tradeshow on November 9-12. Register here for a free visitor pass. Come speak with us.