A Key Management DefinitionKey management or key control can be defined as the storage, use and tracking of a physical key or keys. A key management system includes a key storage device, locking rings complete with identification chips and auditing software. The ideal integrated key control and management solution is modular, scalable and designed for interoperability with access control and other security and business systems. This combination of hardware and software enables the user to move beyond key control to a more sophisticated and integrated access control solution, complete with accountability.
The driving force behind the evolution of key management systems has clearly been the development of advanced application software. This allows systems to be virtually hardware agnostic in terms of their actual configuration of access technologies, and their integration with access control and security systems control systems themselves. The software also provides a remotely accessible data trail for every key management system and each of the keys within those systems.
For example, with some systems, users can only access keys for which they have an authorized user code, while keys can be retuned to any location in the box. Priority email alerts can be sent to security managers to advise them if specific keys have not been returned, or of other identified situations. Alarms can also be triggered under a range of conditions such as the use of force to gain access or remove a key, three consecutive 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.
Digital Technology Drives IntegrationAlthough the basic premise and purpose for key management systems remains quite fundamental – to secure keys – the technology inside these boxes is quite sophisticated. Digital technology and system integration has made key management a higher level management tool rather than just a way to control keys. To start, the systems themselves are scalable – multiple cabinets can form a single fully integrated system to hold hundreds of keys and other items in multiple locations across an enterprise. And they can be tailored to suit a variety of access control needs, including a built-in keypad, biometrics such as fingerprint readers, and a magnetic or proximity card reader.
This capability provides users with tremendous versatility that can be further enhanced with the use of auditing software. By integrating management software, users can control the system and maximize its reporting and programmable access capabilities. For example, system managers can establish permission levels for each user code and monitor data from any desktop connected to the network.