Going Beyond the Perimeter

10 benefits of upgrading to wireless locks

Wireless locks are a growing segment of the electronic access control (EAC) market, increasing at a rate of 8% annually in the Americas, according to OMDIA. They can be used in a variety of applications and provide many of the benefits of traditional hard-wired access control. Depending on the type, they can be managed as standalone solutions or as part of Physical Access Control Software (PACS) systems.

Features will vary based on lock models and the access control software, but a trusted service provider can recommend the right type of locks and confirm specific capabilities within systems.

While most buildings today utilize electronic access control on perimeter doors, there are several benefits to extending it deeper into the facility. Here are ten reasons to consider upgrading to wireless locks to enhance security, efficiency and convenience.

  1. Improved security and safety. Wireless electronic locks provide incremental security and safety benefits compared to mechanical locks. When integrated into a networked access control solution, they can be controlled remotely and in real-time. In the event of an emergency, a forced lockdown can be initiated centrally and quickly without the need to walk to each door.
  2. Key system integrity. Maintaining proper key control can be a challenge for many facilities. A lost or stolen key can compromise the master key system and impact building security. The cost to re-key a building can range from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on complexity. In most cases, wireless locks are compatible with the same electronic credentials as the perimeter access control solution, which can be quickly and easily removed from the system if lost or stolen. Reducing the number of keys distributed to staff, service providers and visitors can dramatically improve key system integrity.
  3. Cost-effective installation. Wireless locks eliminate the need to run wires to each opening, making them ideal for both new construction and retrofit applications. Installation is simplified by combining all the hardware components into one integrated design that includes the locking device, credential reader, batteries, request-to-exit sensors, door position switch and tamper guard. Since wireless locks require little to no drilling around the door, they are less disruptive and quicker to install. By eliminating the need to run wires to the door and reducing installation time, the typical cost of a wireless opening is lower than a traditional hard-wired solution.
  4. Built-in intelligence. Most wireless locks can be programmed with a unique electronic credential assigned to a specific user, making it easy to track as part of an access control system. Audit trail reports provide visibility to events at the opening that highlight who requested access and at what time. This can be important if there is a need to investigate a security matter or to ensure compliance with regulations and policies. Alerts are generated when a door is unlocked, propped open or if the battery needs to be replaced. And, since most wireless locks feature built-in cache memory, they can continue to work even if there is a power disruption in the building.
  5. Increased efficiency. Wireless locks can make it easier to accomplish certain tasks, saving valuable time and money. For buildings with multiple access points, automatic lock and unlock schedules can be set on specific openings to minimize the need to visit each door. For buildings with a high number of new employees, wireless locks make it easy to issue and revoke electronic credentials without having to go to the door. Additionally, for visitors or service providers, credentials can be set to expire after one-time use or after a specific date.
  6. Reduced operational costs. In buildings where there is frequent turnover, such as university residence halls or multifamily housing, wireless locks eliminate the need to re-key or switch locks upon transfer of occupancy. Electronic or mobile credentials can be quickly programmed, and access rights can be easily added or removed right from the office. And, if they are integrated into a cloud-based access control solution, updates can be made remotely, which has become a greater need since the pandemic changed the way many people work.
  7. Increased convenience. Many businesses and institutions require staff and visitors to wear ID badges that often double as electronic credentials, typically used on the perimeter to gain access to the building. The same credentials can be used with wireless locks for convenient access to private offices, records rooms, laboratories and shared spaces. Mobile credentials, which are gaining in popularity, are highly convenient as people always carry their phones. In some cases, electronic credentials are used beyond access control applications, including secure printing and vending machines.
  8. Innovative wireless communication. Wireless locks are ideal for places where it is difficult or challenging to run wires such as historic buildings, parking gates, elevators and remote buildings. A variety of communication options are available including Wi-Fi and 900 MHz that are managed inside or outside of the IT network, depending on preference or policies. Wireless communication range will vary depending on the technology, building construction and environmental factors. A trusted service provider can recommend the best approach to optimize wireless performance.
  9. Scalable solution. Wireless locks offer scalability and expandability, making them suitable for buildings of all sizes. It is common for buildings to install wireless locks on a few doors to evaluate them out in advance of a larger deployment planned out for the future. Additionally, there are some wireless lock manufacturers that offer interchangeable credential reader and communication modules, making it easier to facilitate transitions as needs evolve over time.
  10. Enhanced peace of mind. Wireless locks provide increased visibility and control over what is happening at the opening, with real-time capabilities depending on the model and access control system. For shared and sensitive spaces, permissions can be set to control who has access, to which doors and at what times. Specific lock schedules and time zones can reduce the number of people accessing specific openings after hours or on holidays.

Wireless Locks Are a Smart Choice
Upgrading to wireless electronic locks offer improved security, convenience and efficiency. They are effective and scalable, and they expand the benefits of electronic access control deeper into the building.

With reduced installation time and costs, wireless electronic locks can be deployed all at once or over time as budgets permit. A trusted service provider can recommend the best options to meet the building’s needs, today and in the future.

This article originally appeared in the March / April 2024 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Karen Keating is Senior Manager, Brand & Solutions Marketing at Allegion.

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