Controlling The Key is Key: System Security at NBC Tower

Keys are checked in and out with ease, tracked through their encoded key rings.

It seemed a small thing, but Steve Castans knew how crucial it was. Castans, the Security Director at the TOBY Award-winning NBC Tower, wasn’t happy with the existing system they had in place to keep track of the many keys required to secure the many locations on the property. And he knew that regardless of how sophisticated the security in his building, if he didn’t have control of the keys, then he didn’t have control of the property’s security or that of the people in it.

Finding a solution was essential. Up to then, the analog pen-and-paper system on which they had been relying couldn’t have been much more primitive. Something more sophisticated was needed — more effective. Something virtually airtight that would add undeniable accountability for the checking out of keys. Castans wanted to ensure control of the keys, and to thereby elevate his protection of those who work and visit the property.

With the help of Glavin Security Specialists, NBC Tower was able to implement a new system to do just that. Castans advised the installation of a Glavin Touch-Screen Computer Managed Key Box. The box itself looks superficially like any other key box, with row upon row of hooks for individual keys. But in this case, the keys are locked into the box and only released to the user upon entering a proper password — or, alternately, by swiping appropriate identification, if that option is preferred by the client. Once authorized personnel enter their passwords, the keys they remove and replace are scanned in and out by way of an encoded keyring, ensuring an accurate record of who took possession of each key at what time, and for how long.

Top: A user ID/PIN combination provides immediate accountability for keys checked out. ID-swiping technology is also available.

Anyone involved in building security will appreciate what an advance like this means — no keys going missing for indeterminate periods of time; no “sharing” of keys during the period any given personnel is responsible for them; and total accountability for access to every secured point of the property.

Given the efficiency and accuracy of the key box system, it’s surprising that every property downtown hasn’t adopted this technology. Amazingly enough, most buildings still rely on the paper-and-pen method that the NBC Tower had employed until recently. “About 90 percent,” Tom Glavin, President of Glavin Security Specialists, says, incredulously. “About 90 percent are still tracking their keys with just pen and paper.”

And that’s a problem, given the number of keys, the number of employees dependent on the accuracy of such a system, and how easily keys can be duplicated. That’s one of the primary benefits of the key box system, according to Castans, who says that so far, the system has worked beautifully — not just to track the keys that are part of the system, but to act as a bulwark against keys that are not. “I had several sub-masters that I was able to eliminate,” Castans says, adding that there were numerous other keys floating around that shouldn’t have been that he was able to catch because of the new system.

Middle: Adding a second language to the key box’s interface enabled the NBC Tower’s predominantly Polish cleaning staff to seamlessly transition to the new system.

The key box itself is incredibly efficient, but isn’t the only aspect of the system. According to Glavin, a camera is often integrated, adding a second layer of security that removes any doubt about who is accountable for which keys. “For the NBC Tower install, they already had a camera, so they didn’t get the integrated one,” Glavin says. Castans explains: “We have a camera already installed that points directly at the key box so we know, without a doubt, who has what key at all times.”

Preparing for the install took more time than the install itself, Glavin says, which, he asserts, is typical for any install they do. “It’s the prep time that takes the longest — figuring out which keys need to be part of the system, and who needs access to them,” he explains. “Once that part is over, installation doesn’t take very long. It can usually be done in a matter of hours — a day or so.”

Once the key box was installed, Castans found it to be so effective at holding personnel accountable for keys that requests for keys actually diminished. “People don’t ask for keys as often now because they know they’re being held responsible,” he says.

Another helpful aspect of the Glavin computerized key box system is the seamless ability to adapt it for many different languages, as needed. “Almost everyone on the cleaning staff in our building speaks only Polish,” Castans explains. Having the touch screen available in Polish as well as English not only makes usage of the key box much more efficient and trouble-free, it also sends a message that everyone on the NBC Tower’s team is valued and appreciated. The interface can be easily adapted to accommodate virtually any language.

Bottom: The Glavin-installed key box features a touch-screen interface that’s easy for everyone to use.

Castans goes on to say that the transition to the key box system has been incredibly smooth, in large part because of the Glavin team’s willingness to train the personnel at the NBC Tower, even when new staff members are hired and must go through the training required to negotiate the system. But more than that, the system itself is easy to learn and to manage. “It’s incredibly easy to use,” Castans says. “Not only user friendly, but boss friendly.”

His many years of experience in the security industry and with Glavin in particular were paramount among the reasons that Castans approached Tom Glavin with his key security problem in the first place. “I knew Tom and have worked with him before,” he says, explaining how Glavin was a known variable, and citing Glavin’s obvious expertise.

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Posted by on Sep 1st, 2017 and filed under Feature Story. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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