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Why an Electronic Key Control System is Essential for Every Multifamily Housing Community

electronic key control systemMultifamily housing communities without an electronic key control system face lost productivity, wasted money, and reduced security. Here are three reasons why an electronic key control system is essential to any multifamily, student or military housing community:

Reason #1: Where are the Keys?

The primary issue with non-electronic key control systems is missing keys. Missing keys are a huge source of stress and conflict at any property. Here’s why:

– A potential resident is waiting to view an apartment home. You could lose the prospect if the key hunt takes too long. “I’ll come back later,” will likely never happen and lost prospects hurt your occupancy rate.

– An employee needs to inspect a unit or make a repair. Every minute spent searching for the key kills productivity and wastes money.

– A missing key leads to theft and assault in your community. Without an audit trail, your company could be held legally liable.

Properties that use an electronic key control system versus a non-electronic alternative are more efficient for those reasons and more.

Reason #2: Accountability

When there is no accountability, it is easy to shirk responsibility:

– An employee is working with a potential resident. Someone interrupts and asks where keys are. It’s easiest to say, “I don’t know” and go back to the task at hand. If the employee shifts attention or starts rummaging around for keys, he or she might lose the sale or do the paperwork incorrectly. Looking for keys is inefficient.

– That key might have been accidentally taken home. Best to keep one’s mouth shut and quietly return it the next day. Or the next time a showing is scheduled, which could be in a couple of days. Otherwise, a trip back to work to return a key will take away free time.

– Someone forgot to return the key and it’s in a desk drawer or left on a random countertop. This person is out on the lot, on lunch break, or got called away. Digging through the desk drawer or office will violate privacy; not digging will mean a lost sale or lost productivity.

– A vacant apartment home is left unlocked after a showing and is vandalized overnight. No one owns up. This costs money to repair.

– Keys are lost and truly missing. The property has to pay for a replacement, wasting money.

An electronic key management system can instantly reveal who last checked out a specific key. The system can also run a report of the key’s checkout history. Instead of hassling everyone, only this single employee is contacted. Employees will immediately understand that they are responsible for all keys they check out. A key control system creates a culture of accountability. A non-electronic alternative doesn’t.

Reason #3: Reporting

By running a report about key checkouts, managers can quickly answer the following questions:

– At the end of a shift and close to closing time, which keys are still checked out? Go round up any that should get checked in!

– How many times has a specific apartment home been viewed? Who has checked out the keys, and when?

– What is a specific employee doing? What keys have they recently taken out and why?

With HandyTrac’s reports, managers are more knowledgeable and able to make better decisions.

HandyTrac offers several excellent electronic key management systems including the new HandyTrac Touch; featuring a large touch screen display and biometric technology for added security. Contact us for a quote and build a culture of accountability at your community today!

Minimize Hotel Security Risks with Electronic Key Control

hotel securityWhile many hospitality companies strive to make their hotel properties as safe and secure as possible for their guests, managing security risks is always one of the greatest challenges. By nature, hotels have many rooms with many access points and large amounts of traffic, making them a favorite target for thieves and predators. Since keys provide access, keys are also the greatest point of vulnerability. This is why implementing a strong key control policy is one of the best ways for a hotel to minimize its security and liability risks.

Most hotels these days have already implemented some form of programmable keycard system for guests to access their specific room for a specific length of time. However, true key control goes much deeper than that; it also needs to include restricted and monitored access for hotel employees. Background checks can only do so much, and employees with key access are given a level of trust that can be easily violated. If a hotel employee accesses a room unlawfully and steals something (or worse, victimizes a guest), to what extent is that hotel legally liable for the infraction? If something like this happens on your property and you haven’t taken every reasonable step to prevent that action, your hotel could be held responsible on the grounds of negligence.

One of the best ways to prevent or limit this liability is to implement a strong key control system, one that tracks and restricts employee access and keeps all keys in a secure location. Not only does it provide an effective deterrent against unauthorized access, but it also allows management to instantly identify unusual patterns and identify users who violate the rules.

What Does Effective Hotel Key Control Look Like?

For hotels with keycard access, employee key control can simply be an extension of the type of control provided for hotel guests. Here are a few of the top priorities that need to be in place for a good key control system:

Secure, centralized location for pulling keys: Employees should have to check keys out and in from a locked box rather than carrying them around indefinitely.

Unique identification and authorization: The system should be able to identify each employee by a badge and fingerprint as they log in, pull keys and return them.

Customizable reason codes: The system should track not just which keys are pulled, but by whom and for what reason.

Instant reporting and audit trails: A good key control system should always enable management to track activity by key, by building, by day/time and by employee.

● Restricted access: Whenever possible, key control should include customizable access so only authorized employees may pull keys to certain areas of the building or facility.

Benefits of a Hotel Key Control System

Key control helps minimize the security risks of a hotel in a number of ways:

Greater employee accountability. Simply put, employees tend to stay honest and behave when they know their activities are being tracked. With key control, you’ll enjoy reduced risks of employee violations.

Streamlined processes and greater productivity. A good key control system can improve overall workflow processes, which helps your employees stay more productive. (No more wasted time tracking down missing keys!)

Lower costs. When keys are lost or compromised, the only true way to restore security is to call the locksmith. Key control greatly reduces the number of times you have to do this — especially if you use keycard access, since card keys are disposable and can be simply deactivated if lost. In addition, greater key control often results in lower insurance premiums since your liability risks go down considerably.

Mitigated liability. If someone does manage to do harm on the premises, your legal liability may be greatly reduced since key control demonstrates good intent and weakens the argument of negligence.

Peace of mind. The actual number of incidents of theft and victimization can be greatly reduced with key control, sometimes eliminated altogether. This is the ultimate goal, after all—to keep your guests safe. In a day when security risks are higher than ever, every hotel should consider reducing their risk by implementing strong key control.

HandyTrac offers a number of excellent key control solutions designed to enhance employee accountability and mitigate risk. To learn more about how HandyTrac can help your hotel property, contact us today.

Electronic Key Management Options for Military Housing

military housingMilitary housing communities without an effective key control system can be particularly vulnerable due to lost, misplaced or misappropriated keys, increasing the risk of theft and other crimes. Fortunately, there are solutions for streamlining key management that help keep military families safe. Let’s explore some key control features beneficial to military housing communities.

Restricted Access Systems

While community keys provide access, they also represent the greatest security vulnerability because they can be used to enter with no sign of intrusion. Protect your keys by keeping them, theoretically speaking, under lock-and-key. A restricted access unit keeps all keys in one place, locked in a secure box that can only be accessed by authorized personnel.

Computerized Access with Multi-Step Authorization

Computerized access to your key control unit allows you to implement multi-step authorization. Authorized personnel may activate the unit using an employee badge, for example, followed by entering a security code, and then a reason code for pulling the key. Only when these protocols are input does the cabinet open.

Automated Reports

A computerized key control system also makes it easy to generate and transmit instant reports via email or internet access. At any time, you can find out which keys have been checked out to whom, and for what purpose. In this manner, unusual activity can be quickly identified, and lost keys can easily be traced.

Random Key Rotation

Another security step in electronic key management is to use a bar-coded system with random positioning, both to mask key identification and to prevent people from memorizing where specific keys are hung. The unit only reveals the key location when the employee successfully logs into the system.

Biometric Authorization

For even greater security, consider installing a key management system with biometric capabilities. This system utilizes a fingerprint reader to identify and grant access to rather than ID badges which may be stolen. This way, you’re ensured that only authorized personnel are accessing keys.

Implementing an electronic key management system for your military housing community is one of the best ways to keep service people, their families and their belongings safe. To learn more about how key control systems can benefit your base, contact us today.

The Building Blocks of a Strong Key Management Policy

key management policyA strong key management policy is — pardon the obvious pun — the key to improved security for your building, campus, apartment community or business complex. Before you can implement a system that truly keeps your facility and your residents safe, you need a policy in place that effectively addresses vulnerabilities and requires accountability.

But what constitutes a good key management policy? How do you design and implement a system that makes sure your keys are accounted for at all times — and even more importantly, keeps those keys out of the wrong hands? Let’s explore the basic building blocks that every property should have when developing their key control systems.

An Accurate Inventory

There is no way around it: key management begins and ends with inventory. You have to know exactly how many doors and locks you have, and how many keys to those locks you have in circulation. Not knowing these numbers creates an instant vulnerability because all it takes for a break-in to occur is one stray key that someone forgot about, or that no one knew existed. In many cases where there hasn’t been efficient key management, the best way to hit the “reset” button is to re-key all the locks and log your inventory of new keys. That’s not always necessary, but if you honestly can’t provide an accurate accounting of all the keys circulating through your facility, it’s the only effective way to ensure your new key control system is vulnerability free.

An Accountability Protocol

Once you have (or regain) control of your keys through an accurate inventory, the next building block is to establish a secure method by which your employees check out and check in keys — one that makes every employee accountable for which keys they’re checking out, to which units, and for what reason. You should also know when the employee returns the key — and you can even set a time limit for added accountability. For added security, you can structure your system so that only certain employees are allowed to use certain keys. A computerized system makes these tasks much easier, but even paper accounting is better than no accounting system at all.

Secure, Centralized Storage for Keys

Any keys that aren’t in use should themselves be under lock and key, preferably in one central location for employees to access as needed. A tamper-proof box with multi-step secured access can be ideal to serve this purpose. Storing all keys in one location makes them much easier to control and monitor, and you can rest easy knowing these keys can’t be accessed without proper authorization.

Accurate Reporting

Every key should have its own “paper trail” — that is, you should always be able to track when the key was checked out, when it was checked in, who took the key and why they needed it. Quite often in the course of business, you’ll be able to identify “patterns of circulation” with these keys, so you can quickly detect when someone breaks the usual pattern — for example, checking out a key they don’t normally use, or taking too much time with a key. You’ll also know immediately when a key turns up missing (as well as who had the key last) and when a lock might need to be changed. These reports can be painstaking and tedious, but they can often be simplified when handled by computer because you can filter results according to what you’re looking for. Regardless, reporting is critical to maintaining a secure environment.

Implementing a Key Management System that Honors Your Policies

Once you have established the values that make up a solid key management policy, you can begin to design and implement a system that upholds these values. For many communities, one of the best ways to protect and track keys is by installing a secure key control system like the ones HandyTrac offers. A well-designed system will provide security features that require employees to go through multiple steps to check out and check in keys — for example scanning a badge or their thumbprint, followed by entering a PIN. The system might also use barcode tags to track keys, and even randomize their location in the box so employees can’t memorize their locations. Computerized access also enables real time tracking, reporting and alerts which may be emailed or accessed via Wi-Fi. This way, anomalies and irregular behaviors can be identified and tracked immediately.

To some, having a strict key management policy with security layers such as these might seem a bit over-the-top, or that somehow they convey a sense of distrust among employees. But here’s the paradox: When you have a strong key management policy, and a secure electronic key control system to match it, the chance of an attempted breach goes way down. The strong security becomes a preventative in itself. HandyTrac offers a selection of high-quality, secure key control systems that are certain to meet or exceed your key control policies. To learn more about our solutions, contact us today.

Join us at the NAA 2018 Conference and Trade Show

HandyTrac Systems, a leading electronic key control company for multifamily, military and student housing, is pleased to announce its participation in NAA 2018, the largest multifamily trade show in the United States. This four-day event will be held June 13-16 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California.

NAAHandyTrac’s knowledgeable team of professionals will be attending the show, including Executive VP, Larry Kratz, VP and Partner, Steve Alvarez, and National Sales Executives, Bill Pierce and Eric Overhage.

“Our annual attendance at the NAA Conference and Trade Show underscores our dedication to helping multifamily property owners and managers ensure resident safety and prevent premises liability,” said John Lie-Nielsen, Founder and CEO.

Throughout the show, HandyTrac will be offering comprehensive key control system demos, as well as games and prizes at booth #1423. Additionally, HandyTrac will be showcasing their latest electronic key control system, the Touch. The Touch combines biometric technology and a large touch screen display to offer the highest level of security, reporting, and flexibility.

About NAA 2018:

NAA is a paramount multi-housing industry event, featuring inspiring speakers, targeted education sessions, and a diverse product showcase. To learn more about this can’t miss event, click here.

About HandyTrac:

For over 20 years HandyTrac has been the low-cost leader in multifamily and military housing key control; managing keys for more than 3 million apartment homes throughout the country. Our cloud based systems offer instant access to archived reporting and provide the ability to manage your communities with a single login through your computer or smartphone. For more information, contact us today!

4 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Secure Key Control Solution

key control solutionIn any community, campus or facility, keys are typically your greatest point of vulnerability. The better you protect and monitor your keys, the safer your property becomes — and the best way to do that is by establishing some form of key control. That said, choosing a secure key control solution that’s right for the needs of your building or community can be a daunting task. To ease the burden, here are four important questions to ask when evaluating an electronic key control system.

1. Does this system provide a central location for key
check-out and check-in?

The best way to track keys is to store them in one centralized location where employees check them out and return them. Without this feature, keys can get misplaced or stolen simply because no one really knows where they’re supposed to be when not in use. A secure key control solution will include a locked box where keys are stored and checked out. In larger facilities, you might use multiple locations, but those locations should be networked together so you always know which keys are being kept in which box.

2. Does this system offer multi-step secured access?

The more security steps you place into the checkout process, the harder it is for thieves to find a vulnerability and steal keys. If, for example, an employee can simply check out a key by swiping his badge, all it takes for a thief to gain access is by stealing or copying the badge. But if that employee must swipe the badge and type in a code — or better yet, use a fingerprint identification — the risk of theft goes down exponentially. Always look for a system that incorporates multiple steps into the check-out/check-in process.

3. What other hack-proof features does this system offer?

Once an employee gains access to the system, what safeguards are in place to make sure that employee takes only the key assigned to him/her? Barcode tags can mask the identification of keys; so can randomizing the location of the key within the box. Look for these and other hack-proof features in your key control solution to keep employees honest.

4. Does this system provide instant reporting and remote access?

For maximum security, your key control system should be able to generate reports at any time as to where keys are located, who has them, when they have them and why. You should also be able to pull these reports at any time via secure Wi-Fi access. This way, you can quickly identify anomalies and track unusual patterns of behavior before something bad happens.

When you’re ready to choose a secure key control solution for your building, community or campus, HandyTrac is here to help with a variety of options, one of which is perfect for your needs. To learn more, contact us today.

How Does a Biometric Key Control System Work?

biometric-read-circleBarcoded employee badges can be used in tandem with a secure key control system, but for some, badges can be cumbersome — let alone lost or stolen. For those who want a more streamlined approach with heightened security, a biometric system can be the perfect solution; but how does a biometric key control system work? Let’s pull back the curtain and explore this technology a bit.

What Are Biometrics?

Biometrics are exactly what the name suggests: Bio=biology; Metrics=measurement. Biometrics deal with biological measurements—not merely regarding height/weight/body composition, but more specifically in identifying markers, like fingerprints or retinal patterns of the eye. When paired with technological applications, biometrics refers to using biological measurements as a form of identification. This technology is extremely secure because only you have your fingerprint, for example. Fingerprints are much more difficult to hijack and duplicate than barcodes.

Implementing Biometrics into a Key Control System

HandyTrac has integrated this important security technology into its biometric key control systems, effectively eliminating the need for employee badges. Rather, the system identifies users by their fingerprint, meaning that only authorized employees with recognized fingerprints can pull keys.

Can Employee Badges Still Be Used?

Certainly! A biometric system can be configured for multi-step access for added security. For example, you can set up access to certain restricted areas by a fingerprint and an employee badge for double verification.

Additional Benefits of a Biometric System

● Instant tracking and reporting. The computer creates an access log which can be instantly accessed by management simply by logging in to the system.

● Renders passwords irrelevant. A biometric system reads data in a completely different way, making systems almost impossible to hack because hackers can’t “guess” fingerprints the way they decipher passwords.

● User-friendly. While remarkably secure, a biometric key control system is also deceptively simple to use. (How difficult is it to place one’s fingerprint on the scanner?)

Biometric technology adds exponentially greater security to a key control system that is already extremely secure — and we’ve worked to make this technology more accessible and affordable than you think. Biometric access is included in both our Biometric and Touch models of key control systems, and we’re happy to answer questions and provide all the details you need to make an informed decision about key control for your property, campus or housing community. To learn more, contact us today.

Replacing Lost or Damaged Key Tags Is Easy with HandyTrac

secure key controlOne of the most powerful strategies for secure key management is to “anonymize” the keys in your system — that is, to mask a key’s identification so it’s not readily apparent which door the key unlocks until it is checked out to an authorized employee. HandyTrac accomplishes this with anonymous barcoded key tags that are readable only by the system. But what happens if a key tag gets lost? What happens if the tag gets damaged so the system no longer reads it?

The good news is that a barcode key tag is nothing more than a bit of code that the computer uses to identify the key. When the tag becomes compromised, all you need to do to make the key secure again is to cancel the old code and assign a new one. HandyTrac has made it easy to replace lost or damaged key tags, and this article will explain the process.

Remove the Old Key Tag Code from the Log and Replace it with a New One

The first step in replacing a key tag is always to remove the old tag code from the system. This step not only eliminates confusion from multiple codes, but it also renders the old code useless so it no longer identifies the key. (This is not unlike canceling a stolen credit card so thieves can’t use it.) Only staff whose badges have master access can edit key tag information. Here’s how to remove the old key tag from the system:

1. Have your replacement key tag ready. (See below for how to obtain replacement tags.)

2. Log into the system at a key control panel using your badge and PIN.

3. Type in Code 04 to tell the system you want to edit a key tag, then follow the prompts.

4. Enter the 4-digit code of the old key tag when prompted by the system. (If the tag has been lost, use the key map to look up the code.)

5. Scan the new key tag and press Enter. The computer will automatically negate the old code and replace it with the new code, activating the new tag.

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for every additional key tag you want to replace. Press “Out” if you are finished.

7. Attach the new tag to the key. (If you’re doing multiple keys, make sure you don’t confuse them and attach the tag to the wrong key!)

To Order New Replacement Key Tags and Other Supplies

HandyTrac has made it easy to replace the supplies you need for your key control system, including replacement tags for as many keys as you need.

1. Log into your account on the upper right corner of our website.

2. Go to the Supplies page.

3. Click on replacement key tags (available in batches of 100, or order a specific number at $1 per tag). Add them to your cart.

4. Complete your order at the checkout page.

Replace Tags as Often as You Like

You can replace key tags within your system even if a tag is not damaged or lost, and every so often you might want to do this for added security. Simply go through the process of editing and replacing tags any time you want to trade out the barcodes.

HandyTrac is committed to helping you keep your key control system secure, which is why we’ve made the process of replacing lost or damaged key tags as simple as possible. For any other questions, call us at 1-800-665-9994.

What Makes HandyTrac the Best Electronic Key Control Option?

electronic key controlA carefully managed electronic key control system is essential for the security of any property, whether it’s a multifamily community, campus, military housing, office, or factory. When you are able to track the location of your keys at any given time, you can protect your facility against key misuse and intruders. There are many ways to establish a secure key control system, and numerous options to help you accomplish this goal. So what makes HandyTrac the best electronic key control option?

Here are just a few of the features we feel make our system the best choice for your community or facility.

Security for a Wide Range of Budgets and Applications

From our basic Classic system to our expanded Biometric and Touch options, each of our electronic key control systems are designed to provide comprehensive, streamlined security, as well as accountability and reporting without a lot of extra effort on your part.

Multi-Step Access

With our system, employees must go through a layered identification process to open the box and pull a key—including noting which key they are taking and why. The process is easy for employees after the initial training period, but exceedingly difficult for bad guys to hack or bypass.

Anonymous Barcoding System

Gone are the days of marking your keys with the rooms they open — that just makes it easier for an intruder to find and use the key they need. With HandyTrac, each key comes with a barcode tag that is readable only by the system. That way, if a key is lost or dropped, someone can’t just pick it up and figure out which room or unit it opens. Key tags are easy to activate and replace, as well. This anonymous system also safeguards against breaches from the inside. Not only are the barcodes unreadable by humans, but the HandyTrac system also hangs these keys in random locations in the box, making it impossible for someone with access to the box to identify any specific key. The system only releases the key assigned to the employee at that particular time.

Simple Online Reporting and Auditing

Our computerized system keeps an instant log of all key activity, which you can access online anytime. Pull customized reports that give you only the information you’re looking for.

Unmatched Warranty and Technical Support

HandyTrac offers a complete, continuous warranty on our electronic key control systems, along with technical support access. We don’t just sell you a key control system; we partner with you to make sure it meets and exceeds your security expectations.

To learn more about the features that make HandyTrac the best electronic key control option for you, contact us today.

6 Common Security Flaws in Multifamily Properties

security flawsMultifamily buildings and communities come with their own unique set of security flaws. It is the responsibility of the management to do everything possible to ensure the safety of their residents. Let’s look at 6 of the most common security flaws found in today’s multifamily properties, and what management can do to improve safety.

1. Unrestricted Access to Grounds

One of the most obvious ways for bad guys to enter the property is simply to walk in, which can endanger residents. The simplest solution is to keep the main entrance to each building locked, providing access only to residents with keys or security codes. For apartment communities with outdoor entrances to units, take a look at the possibility of fencing in the property and setting up secured gated entrances at walkways and driveways.

2. Insufficient Locks on Units

Simple locks on the doors are usually easy to pick or to break through by force. For added security, consider installing an additional deadbolt on each unit entrance. Even better, consider installing single-sided deadbolt with no external key access, which residents can utilize while inside the unit.

3. Lack of CCTV Monitoring

Another security tool many multifamily properties lack is closed-circuit television monitoring across the property — or insufficient CCTV coverage. A CCTV system creates a video record of everyone entering, leaving and moving across the property, and the fewer “dead” zones, the better.

4. Insufficient Lighting of Public Areas

Criminals love dark corners. Give them no place to hide by making sure all parking lots and public walkways are well lit.

5. Failure to Protect Residents’ Personal Information

Management is responsible not just for the safety of residents and their property, but also their residents’ information. Always store personal identifiable information (e.g., social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank/credit card information) on secured, encrypted servers that are resistant to hackers — and make sure all paperwork is kept safely under lock and key.

6. Inefficient Key Control Management

Building and unit keys present one of the most critical risks to resident safety. If keys are misplaced or get into the wrong hands, it can lead to theft, violent crimes and potential lawsuits. Every management company should have a secure key control system that only releases keys to authorized personnel and tracks the use of keys throughout the community so any anomalies or irregularities can be quickly identified and dealt with before a key gets into the wrong hands.

HandyTrac specializes in providing foolproof, highly secure key control systems for multifamily properties, empowering management to keep their residents safe. To learn more about the products we offer, contact us today.