Access in the age of digital buildings

By Aaron Smith*
Tuesday, 09 March, 2021

Access in the age of digital buildings

Home and workplace security has become paramount over the last 12 months, but what has it meant for the security industry?

With workplaces left unoccupied and the community at large mostly staying at home throughout 2020, the ability to remotely protect assets and implement ways to minimise the spread of germs has become part of our ‘new normal’. Where security and access control systems were once considered ‘nice to have’, they’ve become a necessity in both businesses and homes.

Like many industry sectors, locksmiths and security companies had a rough run throughout 2020, with many forced to reduce operating hours and staff and, in some cases, close showrooms. That meant adapting ways of working to ensure the safety of both employees and customers, while working-from-home measures were implemented.

Silver lining

As time went by, the operational effects of the pandemic saw suppliers reporting a positive increase in sanitation and technology products, including security and access control, as interest in hands-free entry grew.

It was interesting to witness a large demand for electronic access control and video monitoring via CCTV, as buyers suddenly became more aware of these types of technologies. Locks and camera systems were becoming increasingly connected to the internet, especially with more people at home. As online shopping grew, people wanted to see when parcels were being delivered; for example, while workplaces were looking to secure their sites and protect their assets while staff worked remotely.

As this happened, it became clear to me and to members of the Master Locksmiths Association of Australasia (MLAA) that the locksmithing industry was not at long-term risk. In fact, the demand for contactless security is expected to grow exponentially off the back of the pandemic.

Hands-free in demand

An increased focus on hygiene has led to an understandable uptake in thermal imaging and contactless locks. Thermal cameras can detect when someone is in a location, measure their temperature and, in some cases, lock them out if it’s too high. Contactless locks also support minimising the spread of germs through handles and pin pads. This type of new technology is where we see the locksmithing industry heading thriving in a COVID-normal society.

Behind the business

As an essential service during lockdown, Melbourne Polytechnic was still able to operate with social distancing precautions and continue to deliver safety to the community — something we acknowledge was only possible with the support of the Victorian Government through the Regional Specialist Training Fund. This was an investment into our future which allowed us to continue to support our students.

Melbourne Polytechnic is one of only four TAFE colleges in Australia that offers the Certificate III in Locksmithing course and our apprenticeship programs play a major role in this. We endeavour for our students to practise real-world scenarios using the machines, software and techniques used by locksmiths, including aspects of cybersecurity and IT.

Moving forward, I see our industry expanding to cater to the effects of COVID-19. The need for remote viewing, securing workplaces and hygiene technology shows no sign of slowing down. As this evolves, and working from home continues to some degree, home and business owners will ultimately need to be able to monitor multiple locations. The future of locksmithing not only looks bright, but very promising.

*Aaron Smith is the leading teacher of Security Technology & Locksmithing at Melbourne Polytechnic.

Image credit: ©

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