In recent years, many organizations have taken a fresh look at their emergency plans to be sure that they cover the range of potential incidents. While high-profile incidents of terror such as school shootings and bombings at public events have raised this awareness, other events ranging from flooding and power outages to fires and broken water mains have also interrupted operations for a much greater number of businesses.

Among other technologies, today’s advanced key management systems can help lessen disruptions and vulnerabilities when an emergency situation occurs. The automated key management systems include functionality that lets them integrate into broader security systems, including identity management, access control, and visitor control. These networked security systems provide new functions and benefits for daily operations and they also provide for new capabilities that affect how emergent situations can be planned for, managed, and recovered from, that may be less obvious.

The following examples demonstrate how networked key management systems can improve the effectiveness of emergency plans.

Company fleet vehicles, school bus holding areas, trucks and other construction equipment and so on may all come under threat from flooding, fire or other emergency situations. Evacuation or emergency procedures for such conditions can benefit from the real-time information available from key management systems whereby the needed keys can be quickly located and potential damage to assets can be minimized.

Vehicle keys are held in a tamper-proof cabinet when not in use and can only be accessed by authorized users with a proper code, badge or biometric identification. All access activity is automatically recorded and from this data, management can determine which vehicles are off property and which need to be moved. When managing the situation remotely, a mobile app enables authorized users to see live information and to interact with the key management system to allow access to vehicle keys so they can be used to move vehicles out of a pending danger area.

Another critical component for security management when responding to an emergency situation is overall awareness of the current environment. Key management software can run activity reports, sort based on different criteria, view and print reports and more. All this and more makes it possible for managers to generate useful and practical reports, and then analyze the information to maintain maximum control of access and security issues – both during an emergency situation as well as throughout daily operations. 

The very notion of emergency planning covers a wide range of situations. At a minimum, emergency planning should include procedures, assigned responsibilities and training to help ensure all staff is current and familiar with aspects of the plan.

Key management systems play an important role in emergency situations in that the system provides security personnel with immediate and live information so that procedures and assigned responsibilities can be carried out. For example, even if all employees are accounted for after a building is evacuated because of a fire, the key management system may show that a set of keys used by an outside contractor are signed out. With this knowledge, security knows they need to confirm that the contractor is accounted for and out of the building.

In a school environment, a key control system makes it easier for administration and teachers to act in accordance with emergency procedures such as shelter-in-place and locking doors from the inside. Key control systems allow emergency personnel to quickly and easily have access to locked classroom doors, closets and other spaces where children and teachers might be hiding from a gunman – or where a criminal may be hiding. First responders’ badges can be pre-configured and distributed to designated first responders, enabling them to scan their badge into the system to access critical emergency keys.

Networked key management systems also enable management to take action when not on site. In the recovery from an incident, managers can remotely grant the release of keys to specific areas to those on site such as fire or law enforcement responders, or employees that do not normally have such access. The network connectivity of the system allows management to remotely release any key, adding to the convenience and inherent safety provided by a key control and management solution.

Keys and locks are one of the most reliable and effective physical safeguards available in today’s security marketplace and when paired with a key management system the potential for emergency preparedness is vastly improved.