There’s no doubt that 2020 will go down in history as one of the strangest ones yet. There isn’t an industry that hasn’t been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic nor a sector that has come out unscathed. However, out of adversity comes innovation, and there is one type of technology that although has been around for some time, not only has a very timely application for facility managers and residents of multiple occupancy building users, but also serves as a very lucrative long-term opportunity in the long-term for locksmiths and installers.
Over the past few months, The Locksmith Journal has covered Intratone’s designs and developments of GSM-based access control solutions. Through case studies and product profiles, business background and technical breakdowns, online and in print, TLJ has ‘accessed all areas’ of an international access control company, and now it’s your turn to get involved.
Just as the way that building entrances have evolved over the decades, the requirements of residents have also been reassessed. When it comes to safety and security, a peep hole in the door will no longer suffice, and for apartment blocks, halls of residence, local authority living spaces, and similar, being able to see who is at the front door is a necessity, even (or especially) if the resident is not at home. Furthermore, for residents who have mobility issues, being able to allow access to an entrance without having to get up and answer the door allows a greater sense of independence as well as peace of mind.
It is not only the occupants who benefit from GSM-based access control however, facilities managers and site supervisors can now manage and maintain remotely; no more lost keys, no more waiting around for workmen, no more updates or upkeep – it can all be done from home or the office. This was convenient before Covid-19 (if you can remember that!) but nothing short of necessary now that the ‘new normal’ has taken over. And while some restrictions have been relaxed, local lockdowns still loom over us, and winter will pose its own challenges. So, for those who are shielding, or in quarantine (that’s residents or facility managers) there is no physical presence required to grant access to long term users (the residents themselves) and short term users (carers, cleaners, contractors, etc.); even emergency access.
GSM, what is it anyway?
With a name like Global System for Mobile Communication, GSM sounds more like a mobile phone device than an access control system, and that’s exactly how it was first used. In fact, nearly 80% of mobile phone users across the globe already use GSM as their primary network for placing wireless calls.
What is new, and potentially revolutionary for our industry, however, is how GSM technology can also be used in a wide range of other applications – seemingly unrelated to telecommunications. The property management sector is one such example, with the latest smart intercom and door access control systems designed around this very technology.
At its core, GSM is a digital cellular technology that transmits data such as voice and video streams between devices. So, if a lock and key is two tin cans on a piece of a string, when it comes to access control GSM is in essence two video phones; one at the door and one in the hand of the resident. As a wireless, digital system, this makes plastic handsets and traditional wired access devices redundant, yet allows residents the convenience of answering the door via their own smartphone or tablet, and permits property professionals to update key fob data and grant building access remotely too.
Opening doors for installers
We’ve established that GSM is the perfect technology for access control, and that Intratone’s portfolio of products will revolutionise facility management of the future, and enhance the safety and security of buildings, and their occupants. But what does it mean for readers of Pro Installer?
The skill set required to become an Intratone installer neatly ties in with fenestration fitters who are already competent and confident with door and window hardware, security specialities and fire safety fittings. Furthermore, as local authorities and councils look to upgrade their existing entrances or specification new structures, GSM-based access control solutions will be first on their shopping list. It’s not an if, it’s a when.
Making sure you’re up to speed with GSM as a concept, and Intratone’s intercoms, readers/receivers, key cabinets, keypads, digital notice boards, etc. should be a matter of priority for installers. It will not only plug the gaps you may have experienced from a lapse in trade over the past few months but essentially futureproof your career in hardware and security as we all move from the mechanical to the digital. And with free training available, either in person or – you guessed it – remote, there’s no excuse not to give it a go.
So, when it comes to Intratone access control, are you in or out?
 ‘The State of Mobile Internet Connectivity’, GSM Association, 2019 [https://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/GSMA-State-of-Mobile-Internet-Connectivity-Report-2019.pdf]