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Integration & Convergence

Access Control

Doors & Locks: What A Hotelier Wants!

The "access control wish-list" for hoteliers and security/ IT directors is a long one with every "I need and I want" on the list focused on achieving optimized operational efficiency, keeping costs down and ensuring an unrivalled guest experience that keeps them coming back. For the uninitiated, it may seem that some security goals and features pertaining to an electronic locking system are still unattainable. The fact is, access control has truly evolved and achieved a number of significant noteworthy improvements with the locks themselves coming a long way in terms of "looks and style" and its primary functions.

By Glenn Peacock

 

 

LOOKS AND STYLE

 

Lock design has evolved tremendously from the traditional utilitarian appeal.  More and more, luxury properties are Demanding that the locks complement the high-end ambience of the property.  As such, the increased influence that designers have on the decision making process is a primary reason market leaders.  And, if sleek housings, custom levers, and decorative front plates arent enough, 2006 has been a popular year for two-piece modular lock design that is easy on the eyes with a lot less hardware on the door.

 

FEATURES AND CAPABILITIES

 

Lock technology is also gravitating towards a contactless communication between the lock and the keycard.  Quite literally, this wave of technology makes it possible for lock command credentials to be sent from the keycard via Radio Frequency (RF).

Features such as extensive audit/ tracking capabilities for lock egress as well as ingress, the ability to identify and to record door ajar messages, low battery and other lock error alerts have had a positive impact on operations making hoteliers more responsive and preemptive to potential issues.

In conjunction with the improved features on the locks, operating systems are also becoming increasingly sophisticated to address the specialized needs of the elite high-end luxury, resort properties and even large-scale business centers.

Hoteliers seek out lock systems that seamlessly integrate into the Property Management System (PMS) and the myriad of other third-party applications such as remote check-in kiosks, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Point-of-Sale (POS) software.  Other highly sought after qualities are systems that feature a convenient set-up and ensure ease of use.

Todays systems take advantage of Windows-based configurations that are menu-driven to provide a user-friendly point-and-click functionality.  Systems like KABA Advanced Technology Lodging Access System (ATLAS) takes interface convenience a step further offering a Web-browser interface and what this means is that there is no need to install a separate interface on front desk work stations. 

Hoteliers also favor systems that are expandable with the ability to support any number of workstations.  Consider the complications of having to work with systems that can only support 100 network-encoding stations.  This may suffice for the mid-tier to economy properties but not 5-1/2-star sprawling resorts.  The best systems support an unlimited number of workstations, and are connected through the entire property using existing TCP/ IP and Ethernet cabling.

Multi-technology capability as a standard feature is also a useful feature.  SAFLOKs System 6000 is the only program that reads and encodes all three-types of keycard media available in the market as a standard feature while most other providers makes this feature available at an added cost.

 

ENERGY MANAGEMENT & WIRELESS COMMUNICATION

 

The above features and capabilities are merely skimming the surface.  These days a hoteliers favorite buzzwords are energy management and wireless communication.  In recent years, the ability to control in-room amenities such as temperature, lights, etc. has gained increased popularity.  Working in conjunction with in-room thermostats, communication via Infrared (IR) waves is sent from lock to thermostat (when a keycard is used to gain access) to activate the amenities.  In a sense, the lock is telling the thermostat that the room is about to be occupied and that the amenities should be activated.  Special keying levels are programmed onto the lock for it to recognize a guests keycard versus a staff keycard.  If a staff keycard is used to access the lock, the amenities will not be activated.  Conversely, when a guest vacates the room, the locks egress sensor sends a message from the lock to the thermostat telling it to turn-off the amenities.  In fact, for hotels with a high-end CRM database, guest in-room preferences can be stored in the database and preset for a returning guests arrival.  The thermostat is engaged from the central server even before the guest occupies the room.

The above wireless communication is not limited to communication between the lock and a thermostat that is placed on a wall.  Many hotels are looking to wireless lock communication as means to gaining real-time, room-readiness information.  While there are a number of common wireless protocols available in the industry, Messenger is a proprietary system with a unique communication protocol with several utility patents pending.  Messenger allows hotels to communicate with their locks without visiting the door.

Door locks can be configured from the central server to handle changes in access authority.  Every door on the property can be notified simultaneously in the event of a lost master key.  Doors that are ajar or batteries that are nearing the end of their life can signal a central location for appropriate action.  Thermostats can be set back automatically for unoccupied rooms and then changed at check-in to adjust the room while the guest is moving from the front desk to the room.  Lock interrogation is also a feature that can be achieved via remote communication.

This kind of centralized remote communication is ushering in a new age of security to the point where a headquarters location could interrogate any room on any of their properties anywhere in the world.  In fact, with proper authorization, hotel personnel could access a particular lock on a property from anywhere in the world with Internet access, for example, a home office or an airport lounge. 

 

 

Albeit technology will continue to evolve to bring about increasingly superior products and solutions, what is available today has already had a profound impact on the hotel security landscape.

 

Glenn Peacock is Marketing Director of SAFLOK (www.saflok.com).

 

For more information, please send your e-mails to swm@infothe.com.

2007 www.SecurityWorldMag.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 
 

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