How many keys are on your key ring? Ten? Twenty? Wait, let me check. I’ve got eleven. Plus a thumb drive and an LED light. I occasionally grumble, trying to find the right key, which is so darned good at hiding. Surely there must be a better way! (In novel-writing we call this foreshadowing.)
If you work in a large institution, there’s a fair chance you carry dozens of keys around, which you have to sort through again and again. In emergencies it’s ten times worse—you find yourselves rattling through the pile, desperately searching for the critical ones that’ll open escape paths or lock down rooms full of scared kids. So here are some options for fixing that:
- Either individually, or as a school, invest in a large quantity of color-coded key covers, or even colored liquid-plastic in which you can dunk key heads. For shared rooms, such as storage closets, everyone should use the same color fobs. You can also have individualized colors or designs on keys for rooms where only a few have access. You may also want to take this a step further and color-code the lock or door to match. Green keys open green locks. Simple.
- Switch to proximity cards. These work better for some doors than for others, but if all outside doors are proximity-card controlled it’s way easier to get in quickly during a crisis. One down side is the initial cost – retrofitting one door can easily run $800 — but once they’re in you have much better access control options. This is particularly attractive if you have lost many keys over the years, or if you’re spending way too much on re-keying each year. With a prox card system you can cancel a card with the ease of a few keystrokes, at no cost at all.
Switch to cyber-keys. This option replaces the cylinders in all your locks, including not only classrooms and closets, but padlocks on fences and push-button locks in file cabinets. The new cylinders are designed to work with programmed cyber-keys, which look like a cross between U-bolt bicycle locks and thumb drives. The keys, which cost about $100 each, are easily programmed, just like prox cards. Now you just need one key for your entire school, and each individual’s key is programmed precisely for him or her. Changing the cylinders and installing the software is a significant front-end investment, but if you suffer from key overload it may be a good way to go. Check these out at http://www.cyberlock.com/ .