Could you go keyless?

Sean Cassidy. Photo credit:

Could keyless technology improve security in the blocks you manage?

Sean Cassidy looks at the alternatives to keys and fobs.

Physical keys take two forms. They can be the traditional metal cut key which has been around for hundreds of years and offers varying levels of protection from copying.  Or they can take the form of a fob or card, known as a ‘token’, each with a unique code or ‘credentials’. These are presented to a reader positioned at the entrance to a building and access is granted to anyone with an authorised token displaying the correct credentials.


One security headache for property managers, contractors and suppliers is issuing & returning keys . This may sound like a simple task but it takes up time for both, time that is ultimately paid for.

The issue is that physical keys have to be collected and returned every time a contractor or supplier needs to access a block. This frequently means hours spent sitting in traffic, driving to and from offices to collect and return keys, adding time and hassle to the real task of getting a maintenance job done. Regular visitors such as cleaners may be issued with their own keys but this exposes property managers and suppliers to the potential for security breaches. Keys have to be logged in and out and – of course – they may get lost and have to be replaced.

As a result – and due to rapid advances in technology - virtual keys are now becoming popular. These range from a key code entered to gain access to buildings, to biometric readers and virtual tokens on smart phones with credentials locked in to users’ handsets.  Such equipment ranges from stand-alone units with a single reader, to systems that provide a multitude of features such as timed access, detailed data on users and different levels of user access rights.

The main advantage for property managers of using a virtual or ‘keyless’ system is that virtual keys can be allotted to the user for the duration of the visit only. Once the contractor leaves the building, they are no longer active. There is nothing to collect or return and you can wave goodbye to time-consuming admin. It is also easy to remove users’ authorisation to entry without affecting other residents; for example if a tenant has been evicted, they can no longer gain entry to the block.

Using APP-based services, virtual keys can easily be set up on smart phones. Authorised visitors /contractors can be provided access via an APP on their phone for single use or for designated dates only. This provides both data on traffic if required for KPIs and peace of mind to residents that the visitor is authorised to be in their block, as only the smartphone with the valid credential can enter.

Future Security Solutions offers a keyless virtual token system which can be retro fitted to any property communal front door which has existing door entry. This is a massive benefit for managing temporary access without requiring physical collection of the token. Administration involved in issuing keys to non-residents is dramatically reduced and residents can either use the app or stick with the physical communal key as long as it’s available.

Of course, with everything new there is a learning curve - and a lawsuit. Click here to read the details of a recent US legal challenge where tenants were not happy with the landlord fitting smart locks and have returned to their metal keys. The case raised issues with the smart lock provider’s privacy policy, with residents fearing that the app could collect people’s location data and use it for marketing purposes.

So before you rush to a keyless solution for your residents and contractors, it is important to get buy-in first. Take time to listen to any worries stakeholders may have about the technology and the way it is used. If you are interested in finding out more, contact us for a demonstration. We are happy to run Q&A sessions with residents too.


Sean Cassidy is MD of Future Security Solutions Ltd

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