Securing smart cities with smart locks might be the next big thing – but what about securing small and mid-sized municipalities and cities that still rely on traditional locks and keys? With so much talk about the use of keyless entry, it seems as though the reliance on physical keys that persists throughout all municipalities has been largely overlooked.
Take for example Blacktown City, a bustling suburban community where the city council currently manages over 500 vehicles and machines utilized for public works, each paired with at least two to three sets of keys. Or the Walworth County Public Works Department that utilizes hundreds of physical keys to maintain over a million square feet of county-owned building space. Or the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati that oversees a variety heavy equipment, including vans, bulldozers, cranes, and service trucks involving a total of almost 200 keys shared amongst the district’s 150 or so employees.
For small municipalities and medium size cities like these that still rely heavily on the use of physical keys to secure their property and assets, implementing effective key control systems is not just a necessity; it's a strategic decision with tangible benefits.
Key control and management solutions provide distinct and proven security, operational and economic benefits for small municipalities and medium size cities. Here are five key benefits:
1. Secure Key Storage
At their most basic level, key control systems are designed to securely protect keys in an electronic key cabinet - only to be released to authorized users based on pre-determined factors (job title, time of day, etc.). These systems are designed to handle up to 18,000 keys and 10,000 users per site. With an all-steel, vandal-resistant housing, a city key control system makes it easier than ever to securely store all keys used by public works and local governments. Even with existing physical access control systems in place, key control systems (and the physical keys they store) provide a critical layer of physical security for highly sensitive assets and highly restricted areas of municipal buildings.
2. Streamlined Key Access/Return
In most public works and utilities, keys are typically shared amongst multiple employees, which can result in key loss, theft, and misuse and operational inefficiencies relating to time lost waiting for key access. With an electronic key control system in place, administrators can instantly audit any key so they can determine who took it out last, if it is overdue, and its transaction history. Keys can be returned to any networked key cabinet on site rather than employees having to return a key to the cabinet from which it was removed. Biometric identification, large, easy to read touch screens, voice cues, and status bar guides further help ensure a fast and easy process when accessing or returning keys.
3. Efficient Fleet Management
To help maintain usage accountability and eliminate the problem of missing or overdue fleet vehicles, key control systems and associated fleet management software facilitate actual-time key tracking and monitoring. Reports supplied by the software provide information as to how often a vehicle is being used along with who is using what equipment. The system can also tell who was driving a vehicle at a certain time, which is helpful information if there is a report of a county- or city-owned vehicle operating recklessly. If an employee is looking for an available vehicle, it’s easy to jump on the system and see what’s not in use.
4. Enhanced Cost-Savings
By reducing the possibility of lost keys and limiting access to master keys to authorized individuals, municipalities can save thousands in unforeseen re-keying costs. Then, of course, there are the cost-savings associated with increased operational efficiency – the time saved by eliminating manual key logs, the reduction of manual processes, and overall streamlining of key access processes. Small lockers integrated with a key control system also enable cost-savings by safeguarding valuables assets such as laptops, radios, and even sidearms, further reducing the opportunity for theft and even costly compliance infractions.
5. Integration with Existing Systems
Many municipalities have turned to key control and management systems because they provide a higher level of secure access control and key storage and allow management to program user access and restrictions. This enables authorized personnel to simply use their existing ID badges or other secure identity verification options to retrieve and return keys, while administrators can fine-tune access privileges within their access control system according to the individual user, key, and shift. Key control and management systems can also be integrated with video surveillance and other physical identity and asset management (PIAM) systems to enable even higher levels of physical security.
From minimizing the risk of unauthorized access, key theft and asset misuse to cost savings and enhanced operational efficiency, the adoption of modern key control and management systems presents a practical solution tailored to the specific needs of mid-sized municipalities. To learn more about the applications of key control for public works, key control for public utilities, and other municipality departments, please visit our solutions page here.