Locks head online in 2014

This the final article in a three-part series on locks in 2014.

Online locks and tie-ins to other systems will be key trends in door locks in the year ahead.

“More and more hotels are looking at locks as part of a whole room automation and energy-management system,” said Alastair Cush, director of product marketing at Kaba Lodging.

Online locks allow for the implementation of many new security features, particularly in larger properties, said Cush. For example, online locks allow hotel staff to get intruder warnings and other alerts from all over the property. Additionally, staff can broadcast a cancel code to all of a hotel’s door locks.

For 2014, Cush said he expects to look into more interfaces with hotel energy management systems, as well as RFID locks. RFID chips enable interfaces with other hotel operations, such as point of sale systems and other systems that could work with an RFID chip.

Networked locks can also control access within a property on a broader basis than determining which guests have access to which room, said Matthew Mrowczynski, VP global hospitality, Salto Systems. With a networked system, wireless hot spots can revalidate staff RFID cards upon the start of their shift each day and set them to expire after their shift is complete. If a master key is lost, instead of reprogramming each door lock, staff cards can be set to kill the lost master card the first time a staff member touches that lock that day. When a staff member punches out for the day, all the information their card has collected is written to a server for reporting.

Hoteliers must look at locks that network with each other and other parts of the hotel as systems, rather than standalone products, said Mrowczynski.

“Electronic locking systems are not locks, they’re locking systems,” Mrowczynski said. “They have to recognize different levels of integration and security.”