Want Better Building Security? Get Rid of Your Keys!

by | Dec 19, 2019 | School Safety

For the past 6,000 years, the standard method for protecting a building has been a lock and key. The technology dates back to Ancient Egypt, where wooden pin tumbler locks were opened with sticks built with a custom peg system that fit that particular door. After some improvements (read: metal) in 970 A.D. by English craftsman, the lock and key became one of the most important methods of access control in human history.  Think about it: even the term “under lock and key” is used to describe anything we put away for protection and safeguard, be it cash in a bank or hearts in a cheesy rom-com. So the standard metal key metal lock is iconic in building safety and security. But here’s the thing: iconic does not necessarily equal effective. Thanks to the advent of technology, electronic access control is quickly becoming the standard method for ensuring secure building entry.

So should you make the switch from lock-and-key security to electronic access control?  Here are three advantages to access control for government public safety security projects.


Think about how much work, time, and expense is associated with having to change locks after an employee with a key is removed from their position. It doesn’t matter whether the employee left voluntarily or was let go, the safest option is to re-key the building to ensure that they no longer have access to secure areas. We’ve heard about cases of this costing tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention the labor involved and time of staff exchanging keys, coordinating locksmiths, and managing the process. Could you imagine if this could be done in minutes and be targeted to the specific individual to reduce the number of people involved – and requiring no hardware to be changed? Welcome to basic keycard access control. With a few minutes of staff time, you can remove an employee’s access to any or all areas—it can literally be done before they’ve even been let go to prevent any potential breach in security. And everyone else in the organization gets to keep accessing the building as if nothing happened.



Most of your staff will need basic access to common areas inside of a building, like the main entrance, supply rooms, staff lounges, and general work areas. And while most secure areas can be managed just fine with keycards and keys, you may have areas that require additional security. Like secure +, if you will. One of the best options of modern access control includes adding finger or retinal scans to rooms that hold sensitive or proprietary information. That way, this classified data or technology isn’t vulnerable to anyone stealthy enough to steal a key.  So in addition to customizing multiple levels of access into a single card (eliminating the need to carry multiple work keys around everywhere), you can take that strategy next level for your most sensitive info.


One major issue with basic lock-and-key setups is that there is no way of knowing who or when keys were used to gain access to something. This makes criminal investigations, policy adherence checks, and problem-solving a challenge. Key cards are incredibly useful in tracking the entries and exits of every user through every door. This is useful in situations like solving crimes on site, creating chain of command for official evidence storage, and even mapping out traffic flow for exits and entries during peak traffic times. Whether you want to catch a thief or simply improve the flow of employees leaving the building, it’s impossible to measure with lock-and-key entry but quick and simple for the right access control system.

Access control is a proven technology that can help you achieve your desired safety and security outcomes, as long as you are integrating it into an overall strategy that includes your measurable goals and outcomes. That’s when access control truly creates a safer public environment.

About the Author

Team ICU

ICU Technologies is a GSA Schedule 84, and CMAS Contract Vendor for Local, State, and Federal Governments Public Safety and Security Solutions.

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