By Fernando Pires – VP, Sales and Marketing – Morse Watchmans
Whether it’s a hospital or a federal office building; a university or a casino; a retail shopping mall or a library; a safe and secure environment in a public place is something we almost always take for granted. We know that video surveillance cameras are in place to monitor and alert authorities of any suspicious behavior or of developing critical situations. We know that uniformed security guards are patrolling the facility. We can see fire alarm boxes prominently mounted throughout the facility and panic bars on doors. What we may not know or see however, is that behind the scenes there are often as many, if not more, security solutions in place to help ensure the safety and security of people, assets and premises.
One example of the measures unseen by the public is key control and asset management systems that are integrated into the overall security solution. The purpose of key and asset control systems is to secure building and room keys as well as other valuable assets such as cell phones, cash drawers, personal computers and even weapons. Users can only access keys or items in lockers for which they have an authorized user code, and any activity such as removing or returning keys or opening lockers is recorded with an audit trail.
Key management and control systems have been in widespread use as a security management tool for some time, and their effectiveness has spurred the deployment of larger locker systems for items to which access also needs to be controlled. For example, in court houses and some police precincts, firearms must be locked and controlled. Protecting building occupants from accidental weapons discharge and helping to prevent criminal acts are just two of the many examples of why effective weapons storage is critically important.
Other devices such as radios, PDAs, vehicle keys and so on that are used by different personnel throughout the day represent potential security breaches if stolen or misplaced. Laptop theft is on the rise and the cost of replacing the data often far outweighs the actual cost of the hardware. Additionally, as access control systems continue to proliferate, the access devices themselves, such as magnetic cards or proximity devices, need to be secured in the same way as physical keys do.
Asset control systems which can hold and control access to firearms and other small devices with an audit trail to record when a locker was opened and by whom, are the ideal solution for these situations. They can also let security management know when something is wrong. An open door, the use of force to gain access, a power failure or even the misuse of the keypad will trigger an alarm and an email to management, and record the event in the log file.
When integrated with monitoring software, the data tracking information provides positive confirmation of all access transactions. Items not returned cause an e-mail alert to be sent to the system manager. And when the system is integrated with an access control system, alerts can inform management if someone tries to leave the building without returning an item taken from a locker. Additionally, with built-in serial port connectivity as part of the asset control system, managers can access, program and monitor the lockers over a network, from any location. This convenience allows facility managers to access reports, change users, establish permission levels for each user code, monitor data or configure the systems using TCP/IP from virtually any location. It’s a tremendous time saver as well as adding to safety and security measures because individuals can be removed from the system quickly and easily.
Security and safety in public spaces is something we can expect when best practices are followed and professional, well-trained security staff is supported by equipment and technology.