Editor, IFSEC Global

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James Moore is the Editor of IFSEC Global, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry. James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Global, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
February 1, 2023

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The Video Surveillance Report 2022

‘Keyvolution’: The drive towards the digitalisation of locks, keys and access management

Abloy OY is a physical security company specialising in locking and access solutions. Now part of the ASSA ABLOY Group, the business was established more than 115 years ago in Finland, operating in 90 countries. Combining digital and mechanical expertise, the company’s portfolio includes keyless, digital, electromechanical and mechanical options, across a wide range of vertical markets, including commercial, industrial, residential, leisure, retail and critical infrastructure.

As the wider security industry has digitalised, so to have the solutions that Abloy develops to match customer demand. IFSEC Global spoke with Olli Kilpeläinen, Head of Innovation at Abloy, to find out more.


Olli Kilpeläinen, Head of Innovation at Abloy

IFSEC Global (IG): Abloy is well established in the security industry for its physical locks and access management systems. How do you feel your solutions have evolved in the past 10 years in relation to the digitalisation of the security market, where software and connected systems now play a central role?

Olli Kilpeläinen (OK): The drive towards digitalisation comes from customers who are increasingly aware of the opportunities it has to offer, and internally from ourselves as innovators. We moved to electronic locking and electromechanical solutions a couple of decades ago, but now the latest thing is digital solutions. By combining mechanical, electrical and digital solutions, we get the highest level of security products, addressing the ever-changing needs of customers. The built environment – whether it’s smart buildings or smart cities – is evolving very quickly with the needs of customers going beyond the old industry boundaries.

IG: What opportunities do you think digitalisation offers?

OK: Flexibility is one. So, for example, instead of providing a physical key we provide a digital key to open a lock, moving beyond just a physical role. Of course, the physical part is still there, but now we are talking about something that can be accessed digitally and can be linked to other digital things in the building. Instead of having to lend a key to someone – whether it’s someone making a delivery or service call to your home – you just provide them with the relevant access credentials. This comes into its own when you consider scenarios like temporary contractors having access to a site, who can use their phones or other devices to access certain parts of the site or building at certain times.

It’s also a sustainable solution too, as there’s no need to manufacture multiple keys and no need to travel to pick up a physical key. In addition, digital access means being able to give the appropriate access rights to different users for the correct period of time. And unlike merely physical keys, if a digital key is lost or stolen it can be disabled remotely, rather than having to change the lock itself. Wireless solutions obviate the need for extensive wiring, which reduces costs and the size of the carbon footprint.

Find out more about Abloy’s CUMULUS platform, designed to combine locking hardware with secure access management applications, here >>

IG: What has been the impact of digitalisation on system integrators and on end-users?

OK: It used to be quite a challenge for integrators to create an integrated system with wired access systems, but we are now moving towards the cloud and digital wireless solutions. With cloud-to-cloud integrations, modern APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) can link much more easily, and it’s much faster than it used to be. Putting together two pieces of standardised software is now similar to other industries, enabling integrators to work in the wider context of smart buildings. It’s also easier because installers don’t need as much specialist knowledge as they previously did, and projects that might have taken months to complete can now be done in weeks or even days.

End users in sectors such as residential, commercial, healthcare and sports and leisure are more aware of the benefits and opportunities that digitalisation provides. For example, access management software is now presented as a standard web page like other web services, making it much easier to navigate.


IG: We’ve seen the term ‘keyvolution’ mentioned – what does this mean from an Abloy perspective?

OK: It’s the evolution from the simply physical key, via an electronic key, to a digital key linked to a software ecosystem, adding another layer of smartness. In other words, it’s about secure access with a mobile device. When we combine the physical, electronic and software aspects, we can offer the highest levels of security, alongside the other benefits of flexibility, easy of use and better end-user experience.

IG: While all this connectivity can offer enhanced security and ease of use, isn’t there a risk in terms of the vulnerability of the internet and cyber security threats?

OK: There have always been risks inherent in security, even those involving the loss of a physical key. So in a way, digitalisation is reducing risk by enabling the disabling of a key when it is lost. But you’re right, so we take the issue of cyber security very seriously by embedding security into the development of our products from the beginning – not as an add-on – and then by providing continuous software updates. We also ensure that our partners do the same, for example in the way they roll out updates to customers. Secure standard APIs are a good starting point. Our technical product security is very highly regarded and follows the latest standards.

Abloy-BigHeistKeyvolution-23IG: How has digitalisation changed your route to market?

OK: Digitalisation has changed the way we approach markets – in the past our market was solely the security industry, but while this remains our core, we’re opening up opportunities for our partner companies in other industries through the utilisation of APIs. The advent of the smart city and smart buildings means that we have shifted our mindset by finding ways of going to different verticals that need to link to secure access services, and we do this through collaboration with selected partners rather than by ourselves. So now we’re also talking to facilities managers, logistics managers, IT teams and even the governance teams.

IG: Where do you find the biggest uptake of digital access and locking systems?

OK: There are many sectors involved. For example, in the holiday rentals market there are a lot of companies building different kinds of reservation systems. There’s also a lot of software out there for planning work shifts and maintenance operations, so these also link to how you grant access to those who need it. And in the logistics sector, there is the ‘last mile’ logistics delivering packages to secure spaces. In essence, digital keys can be referred to as smart keys or IOT (Internet of Things) devices.

Want to find out more about Abloy’s latest digital locking and access management solutions? Visit the team at IFSEC 2023 on stand IF5230 in May at London’s ExCeL – register for your FREE ticket, here >>


Keep up with the wireless access control market

Download this free report to find out more about:

  • The current state of wireless access control solutions in the market
  • The developing ‘move to mobile access control’ trend
  • Views on open architecture and integration
  • The growing use of the cloud and ACaaS to manage access systems
  • How important is sustainability to the industry?

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