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Mobile Credentials: An Opportunity for Sustainable Multifamily Growth

Existing security systems in most multifamily buildings have few admirers. Keys and locks work, but they cause problems that range from inconvenience to outright security risks. Fobs and key cards, which represent an attempt to modernize, have their challenges as well.

Locksmiths can be problem-solvers in this environment. Closing the multifamily security gap through a new generation of access control technology represents a compelling business opportunity, with immediate and future revenue.

Tenants in multifamily buildings that rely solely on traditional keyed locks tend to have concerns about security. Keys can be copied and not always by trusted people. Former tenants can hang onto keys to common areas, and tenants don’t like having to share keys with guests. Tenants also might worry about neighbors who shared keys with guests and didn’t get them back. 

Aside from improved security, tenants also want streamlined access to multiple areas of the property, such as laundry rooms, garages, gyms and pools, without requiring different keys. Fobs and keycards help in this regard, but they tend to be lost. Even with fobs and keycards, service and delivery calls can result in doors being left open, with an increased vulnerability to crime. 

Reliance on keys, keycards and fobs is problematic for building owners and property managers, too. They aren’t happy about the hassle and expense of replacing keys and locks. Nor do they like having to rekey locks or field complaints about security issues, such as doors being left open. In addition, property managers prefer to have extensive information about who has been in and out of the building and at what times. 


The Mobile Solution

A newer technology, however, is changing the way multifamily buildings handle security and access control. Known as dynamic identity provisioning, or mobile credentials, it bestows a digital identity on any person who requires access to a building or surrounding area. The identities, which transfer to physical access privileges, are stored and managed on a central system. The user carries their credential around on a smartphone. Through wireless technology, such as Bluetooth Low Energy, the phone communicates with access control devices throughout the property to allow access. There are no keys to copy or fobs or cards to lose and replace. And most solutions enable existing keycard systems to run in parallel, so it isn’t always necessary to “rip and replace” old equipment.

Mobile credentials provide distinct types of identity credentials to different people. Tenants have one class of identity. Building employees have another. Vendors and delivery people might get a third form of identity, and guests could have a unique classification as well. By using this approach, a vendor could be given access privileges to a certain part of a property for as long as necessary, and they wouldn’t have access to any other part of the property.

For building owners or property managers, the solution enables streamlined, centralized control over all access, which ensures a higher degree of security. Maintenance costs are relatively low, because there are no access cards and fobs to create or replace. The property, then, becomes able to deliver a better renter experience and higher security. 

Property managers can have confidence in access assignments that won’t cause inconvenience or risk. Limited-time access grants to delivery people and service providers allow for secure access with the reduced risk of an individual going somewhere they aren’t allowed. The solution also collects data on entry, exit and presence. Through mobile credentials, building personnel can know who came onto the property, where they went, how long they were there and when they left. This location and presence tracking isn’t generally possible through traditional access control systems. 


The Opportunity for Locksmiths

Mobile credentials represent a substantial business opportunity for locksmiths. The fact that the technology is outside the traditional locksmith practice is the essence of its potential. It puts the locksmith into a new role with the customer, one that produces new revenue streams and an overall repositioning of the relationship.

Mobile credentials enable the locksmith to become a problem-solver for a range of issues that affect the property manager’s workload and profitability. By acting as a long-term partner for overall access control and security — not just locks — a locksmith can deliver consistent cost-savings to the property. 

The technology also provides a range of revenue opportunities for the locksmith. First, the locksmith earns income by consulting on the design and deployment of the solution. This might be built into a larger project budget, but it’s still a value-added service that can earn income. The locksmith earns a commission on the sale of the solution or makes a profit by reselling it. If the solution is a cloud subscription type of service, the commissions might recur through annual renewals. 

Of course, the locksmith also earns income by installing the solution. This process might include adding sensors to entrances as well as setting up the system in the property manager’s office. A solution such as mobile credentials typically requires an ongoing support agreement, which represents a continuous revenue source for the locksmith. There also will be inevitable service calls to repair damage to the system or modify it over time.

Earning income through providing such services naturally might require the locksmith to learn skills or perhaps hire people who have a nontraditional locksmithing skillset. However, the investment is worth it.

Going beyond revenue, mobile credentials provides locksmiths with a chance to become a different kind of service provider. By being the implementer and support service for the technology, the locksmith can become part of the information technology (IT) budget. It’s a new, potentially lucrative place for the locksmith to work. Spending on IT generally is higher and more continuous than is money expended for locksmith services. 

Also, security and access control increasingly are coming under the control of the IT department, because IT generally is responsible for cybersecurity. The two areas overlap significantly, particularly as businesses migrate to more centralized identity-governance models. So, mobile credentials allow the locksmith business to position itself for the future of access control and security.

Brooke Grigsby
Brooke Grigsby
Brooke Grigsby is Safetrust’s Director of Marketing, overseeing Corporate Marketing, Brand, Communications, Solutions Marketing, Demand Generation, Sales Development, and Marketing Technology. Brooke possesses a deep knowledge of the industry, with over 15 years experience in the cybersecurity, physical access security, mobile access and the Internet of Things (IoT) segments. Prior to joining Safetrust in 2020, Brooke served at Identiv for just under 10 years, 5 of which steering the marketing efforts as Director of Marketing. Previously, she led marketing at ActivIdentity (now owned by HID Global), idOnDemand (acquired by Identiv) and Identiv. Brooke is an active member of ASIS, SIA, and the NFC Forum.

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