SECURITY: A key to better security
by Fernando Pires
May 15, 2012
In the high tech environment of gaming security and surveillance, the widespread use of key control and asset management systems attest to their effectiveness as an additional integrated layer of security.
With computerized key control systems, casinos, poker rooms and other gaming facilities can maximize security of access controlled spaces and minimize vulnerabilities which could lead to a loss or a less secure environment.
The automated key control and management systems found in casinos are designed to control, manage and track keys, and only release them to authorized users. The systems are constructed so that each key is locked into place inside a stainless steel cabinet using a locking device which has an integrated chip. Users can only remove a key which they are authorized to use by entering a pre-programmed PIN code or scanning their access card or biometric identification. If the criteria entered matches the information stored in the system database, the key cabinet will unlock and the necessary key can be removed or returned. The other keys will remain locked into place.
Alarms can also be triggered for certain predetermined circumstances such as the use of force to gain access or remove a key, invalid user codes, a door left open for more than 10 seconds after use, power failure, a key missing or not returned on time or a key returned by the wrong user.
Today’s advanced key control solutions are further enhanced with supporting operational software. At any time, security operations can view the status of any key in the system; who currently has which keys out and for what area and when they are scheduled to be returned; or who has had keys out, for what areas and when. When keys are not returned when scheduled, e-mail alerts can be sent to selected individuals to enable quicker action.
Keys can be managed according to the casino’s requirements, and built-in features such as auto-synch and scheduled reports help make system administration easier and more efficient. For example, depending on the type of system, the software will either poll the individual key control cabinets for the data or, in the more advanced key management systems, it will automatically send the transaction information back to a central server.
Today, the most advanced key management solutions have open protocols to enable connectivity to access control and other systems provided by a range of integration partners. A system can be connected directly to edge devices via RS-232 or networked via Ethernet. Critical information about key control can now be communicated across multiple systems, enabling additional security actions to be taken. With a turnstile-type access control system networked to the key control system, a user who has taken a specific key can be denied egress from the facility until the key is returned—and selected management can be alerted via e-mail if a key has not been returned on time. The networking capability of advanced key control systems adds tremendous value to key management systems and allows best-of-breed solutions to be implemented without costly upgrades or overhauls.
Design Flexibility is Important
Solutions for key security, key control and key management can be tailored to the various needs of a casino/hotel/entertainment property, including the flexibility to have different levels of security (i.e. dual or triple authentication) in different areas of the premises. Cabinet doors may be solid steel or they may be see-through polycarbonate material. Choices for modules to fill the cabinets may include a selection of mechanical key storage modules, key card modules, lockers of various sizes or simply blank modules to be filled at a later time. The combination of modules is entirely up to the user, offering the ability to customize and also change the system to meet specific needs.
Other system conveniences may include large touchscreens on the front panel with convenient buttons and an easier to use interface with step by step instructions. Keys available for access can be called up on the screen along with information about the location of a specified key, what keys have not been returned and when the key will become overdue. Added features that help make the system easier and more efficient for everyone to use also include illuminated key slots to locate keys and random return capability (i.e. return to any key slot in the cabinet or in the system).
is vice president of sales and marketing at Morse Watchmans. Morse Watchmans is a leading provider of market-proven products and technologies for key control, key security and key and asset management solutions and is driving the evolution of key control and security management systems.
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