WHAT HAPPENS WHEN LOCKS CONNECT TO THE INTERNET
By Steve Dunn May 2020
Connecting locks to the internet is a new phenomenon, bringing new opportunities, and allowing locks to reach their full potential.
Up until the internet came along, a traditional lock’s only feature was; 'securing a property or space with a metal key'.
In simple terms, a lock owner could use a metal key to let themselves into their space (that is to access a space), whilst at the same time, keeping all those people that didn’t have the key to that lock, out of that space. Simple right?
If the owner of the lock, wanted to give someone else access to their space, such as their family members, they would have to;
1. visit a tradesperson, commonly called a ‘locksmith’, who had the right tools to copy their metal key, and then;
2. they had to physically meet the person they created the metal key for, to hand over that metal key, or physically post the metal key and/or make arrangements to give the key to someone else to deliver it to the person the key was created for.
When a lock connects to the internet, lots of awesome features can be added to a lock such as being able to;
1.Create an unlimited number of keys instantly online without having to visit a locksmith – an unlimited number of individual users can be granted access to a space online without having to physically make a copy of that metal key. A lock connected to the internet enables keys to become digital, and so a digital key can be created for as many users as possible in an instant online.
2.Hand over the key to someone without having to physically meet that person - with new digital keys created, they can be easily emailed/messaged/downloaded in apps, to anyone in an instant, anywhere, without having to physically meet the person who the new digital key was created for.
3.Make the key only work for a specific time or for a one-off use – using an online calendar interface, otherwise known as an online booking engine, connected lock owners can make their keys work for any selected time and date range, from 10 minutes, to 10 hours, to weeks or months at a time, to only on Fridays between 10am-2pm. With metal keys, they simply worked permanently, not for specified time periods.
4.Make the key you create for someone else have its own unique ID, so you know who is using it and when – the digital keys you make can have the name of the person you make it for assigned to it (or any name you want). When that person uses their digital key to unlock the door, as owner of the space secured behind the door, you can receive an email or app/text notification telling you who opened your door and at what time (lock connects to local time via internet). This feature is commonly called a live audit.
5.Unlock your door from anywhere in the world, by simply hitting one button in an app and/or in software. You don’t have to be physically present at the door to let someone into the space, especially if you don't want to give a copy of your key to that person.
6.Cancel the key at anytime by simply hitting one button in software or in an app – if you want the person you gave the metal key to, to no longer have that metal key, so you could stop them from unlocking your lock, you had to either physically take the key back from the person you gave it to (and hope they didn’t make a copy), or you had to change the locks, and get completely new keys that are associated with those new locks.
7.Make the key work for specific locks, and not others – if you have many locks scattered around anywhere, or in the same building, you can make the digital key work for whatever lock you want it to work on, keeping people out of specific spaces.
8. Make the key whatever you want it to be. A metal key is traditionally a small piece of metal between 5-10 centimeters, which you had to physically carry around with everywhere you went. If you lost the metal key you would have to somehow find a way to force entry into your space. With Digital Keys, your key can be anything such as a wearable device like a ring, or a bracelet. It can be a card, or a sticker. It can be a number (for locks with numberpads), and it can be your mobile phone, or even your own voice or fingerprint. If you lose a digital key, you never need to force entry to your space – you just need to get online and make a new one.
9.Make the generation and distribution of the key for someone else controlled by someone else by a method of authorization – as the owner of the space, you don’t have to be the person responsible for making the digital keys online if you don't want to. You can let anyone else make the keys online, by giving them some form of authorisation. This authorisation can be a link in an email, or some pre-approval in management software, or it can be tied to the authorisation to a payment in the booking process (such as what you typically perform for an online hotel booking).
10. You can see if your door is locked/closed from anywhere in the world - no more wondering if you remembered to close/lock the door before going out - you can get a notification to your phone if the door is not locked/closed properly.