One manufacturer has introduced a new series of replacement electronic lock cylinders made to fit existing lock hardware. Potential criminals cannot pick or vandalize these cylinders, and they contain all of the electronics and a unique identifier that identifies them as part of a system. They can hold the last 1,100 transactions performed, and they require no external power.
Special keys that can hold the last 3,900 transactions in memory power the cylinders. The key also contains a clock module that produces the time stamp on each transaction. A 3-volt lithium cell that can last up to 1,500 transactions or one year and comes in rechargeable models powers the keys.
For extreme security situations, administrators can set up the locks for multiple-key access, so the user must present three or four keys in sequence to open a lock. This feature is designed for sensitive areas, such as evidence and money-counting rooms.
Administrators also can program them to delay access and operation of the lock from seconds up to 20 minutes after initial presentation of an authorized key. An example of using this technology is allowing a user to be captured on a video system as a camera travels through a programmed pan-and-tilt cycle.
The administrator also can set the keys so their privileges expire hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or on another time frame. Some stations allow the key bearer to reauthorize the key with a personal identification number (PIN). These stations also can double as charging stations for rechargeable keys. When a user inserts the key, the reauthorization station uploads its transaction memory to the system.
The administrator can grant instantaneous authorization in the field to users who have a cell phone, PDA or laptop with a wireless data card by using an infrared communications port. This feature makes it extremely versatile for large, geographically dispersed enterprises that require flexibility, and it allows for centralization of administrative functions.
Managers should be aware that any lock can act as a guard tour station. The guard inserts the key into the lock, and a record of the time and lock ID enters its memory. The guard then uploads the data from the key to the system at the end of the guard shift.
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