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Unlocking The Past With The Keys To The Future

The traditional lock and key is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? Physical science meets precision craftsmanship to create long-lasting security. Indeed, the keys that we still use today are lasting innovations from the Industrial Revolution.
August 7, 2020

Take, for instance, the iconic Chubb key: bronze in colour, with a long cylindrical shaft and hefty head. It was first manufactured in Portsmouth, England, in 1817, by Jeremiah Chubb, following a government initiative to award locksmiths following a spate of burglaries.


The classic Yale key—flat with serrated edges and a large YALE imprinted on the holder’s end—is a US product. Father-Son duo Linus Yale Sr and Jr patented many key designs throughout the mid 1800s from their workshop in New York.


Both types of keys remain ubiquitous artefacts to this day. But they have their limitations.


Time to lose your keys?


Ask any building manager who has to store, distribute and use lots of keys and the romance of historical locksmithery is lost.


One of the UK’s largest housing property management groups, RMG, is an interesting case in point. Their portfolio comprises 110,000 buildings, consisting of somewhere in the region of 330,000 keys, nationwide. Some communal doors are linked to access control hardware, others have keypads not connected to a server and of course traditional locks and keys can be found too. A colossal amount of time, money and organisation goes into the maintenance of this enormous library of duplicate keys for apartment communal areas.


An everyday headache for housing management groups of this scale is to grant maintenance workers access to their buildings. Maintenance workers have to travel to one of their offices, spread across the UK to collect keys, then drive to the residential apartment block and then return the key cards or fobs back to the office afterwards. These round trips can take several hours, with the drive often longer than the job itself.


If somehow RMG could find an alternative method of access than a physical key  —which, it should not be forgotten, can also be duplicated, mislabeled or lost to cause further security problems— they would reinvent their business processes so it wasn’t built on the daily redistribution of physical keys.


Keys To The Future


In June 2019, RMG began piloting the Doordeck mobile access solution in a small test environment of 14 buildings and 20 doors to communal areas which already had electronic access control through key cards and fobs.


The results were impressive as you can see in this recent case study, including a reduction of almost 3,000 hours of RMG employee/contractor hours.


Once RMG rolls out the product across the entire portfolio the saving benefit will be colossal.


Making History


Like millions across the world, many of RMG locks are rooted in the traditional mechanics of Jeremiah Chubb and Linus Yale Sr & Jr. Of course, these physical locks, designed in the eighteenth century, do not require electricity, let alone internet connectivity to open. How then, can they benefit from the convenience of the mobile access technology that Doordeck offers?


We built a neat system called the Doordeck Box.


It's a small 20x20x10cm box that comes with its own internet supply. All we have to do to install it is connect one wire to the power and the other to the magnetic lock above the door...


...and Voila!


The antiquated lock is transported to the future! All with its original features in tack.


It is not our intention to render old methods of door access redundant. Rather, we are here to make unlocking doors simpler and cheaper for commercial properties that manage large books of keys. By doing this, we hope to follow in the footsteps of Chubb and Yale, and Doordeck a lasting entry in the history of door access and security.


Learn more about Doordeck



William Bainborough
CEO of Doordeck