Securing Keys, Assets & People - News, Tech and Trends Blog

Do’s and Don’ts of Using Asset Tracking Tags

By Shannon Arnold on Oct 20, 2020

Using asset tracking tags can significantly improve how your company manages its equipment and other important assets. However, tags can’t do much by themselves. You need to put effective management technology and business processes in place around them; otherwise, they’re no more useful than a label.

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8 Tips for Effective Emergency Evacuation Planning

By Shannon Arnold on Oct 16, 2020

Your best defense against natural and man-made disasters is a reliable emergency evacuation plan. There is no way to predict every detail of every possible emergency that your business might face. An evacuation plan that is comprehensive yet flexible is the most effective way to save lives and help return your business to normal operations as fast as possible.

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6 Steps to Evaluating RFID Asset Tracking Software

By Shannon Arnold on Sep 29, 2020

An asset tracking system needs more than tags and readers to offer real value to your company. It needs to have high-performance tracking software that gives you an audit trail of:

  • Who is in possession of each asset
  • The date and time each asset was checked out
  • The date and time each asset was returned to its storage area
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[Definition] What Is a Muster Point? And Does My Company Need One?

By Shannon Arnold on Sep 25, 2020

A good emergency plan should guide every aspect of your company’s response when disaster strikes. All of those parts need to work together like a well-oiled machine to ensure the safety of your people, property, and finances.

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10 Tips for Better Fleet Management

By Shannon Arnold on Sep 23, 2020

Your business depends on your vehicles and their drivers performing at a high level. But maintaining a high level of performance all day, every day, is easier said than done.

Fleet costs per driver continue to increase 5 percent year over year. You might be able to pay for a high-performing fleet right now, but how much longer will that be the case?

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Top 10 Equipment Inventory Management Practices to Follow

By Shannon Arnold on Aug 25, 2020

How many different pieces of equipment are used by your business every day? We don’t just mean things like screwdrivers and wrenches—what about laptops? Handheld scanners? Specialized instruments?

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8 Business Loss Prevention Strategies That Work

By Shannon Arnold on Aug 18, 2020

Business owners outside retail sometimes dismiss loss prevention as a challenge just for retail stores. But every business can benefit by implementing loss prevention strategies that protect their inventory and accounts.

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Why is Health, Safety, and Security Important in the Workplace?

By Shannon Arnold on Aug 13, 2020

There are too many health and safety challenges in the workplace for individuals to fend for themselves. That’s why every major developed nation has an agency tasked with establishing workplace health, safety, and security regulations.

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35+ Physical Security Awareness Tips for Your Entire Organization

By Shannon Arnold on Aug 11, 2020

A strong physical security program should protect your organization against major threats like crime, natural disasters, and pandemics. It should also protect against day-to-day risks by tracking who is coming and going from your facility, who is using expensive equipment, and where they are going with that equipment.

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How to Keep Track of Equipment Inventory

By Shannon Arnold on Aug 6, 2020

It’s amazing how many hidden costs you uncover when you look into how your business manages its equipment. For businesses of any size in any industry, streamlining how you track and manage your equipment is an excellent way to protect your bottom line.

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10 Elements Your Company Equipment Damage Policy Should Cover

By Shannon Arnold on Jul 28, 2020

No matter how many safeguards you put in place, some of your business equipment will inevitably be damaged. It might be due to an employee’s honest mistake, because they ignored instructions, or it could even be the result of a malicious act, but damage is going to happen. This makes a company equipment damage policy an important tool for protecting your organization’s finances and maintaining productivity.

In this blog post we'll talk about the top 10 must-have elements you need in your company equipment damage policy:

  1. Objectives and Scope
  2. Definitions
  3. Roles
  4. Company Responsibilities
  5. Employee Responsibilities
  6. Policy Exceptions
  7. Communication Process
  8. Consequences
  9. Compensation Process
  10. Links to Related Forms

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5 Steps to Create a Business Theft Prevention Plan

By Shannon Arnold on Jul 21, 2020

Every business eventually has to deal with theft. You shouldn’t feel overwhelmed about this, though; it’s a manageable problem.

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6 Ways Organizations Use Secure Locker Systems

By Shannon Arnold on Jul 14, 2020

Secure locker systems are deceptively powerful business tools. They can be used for much more than just secure storage, although they’re pretty good at that job, too.

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Manage Sick Workers Better With This 3-Stage Framework

By Shannon Arnold on Jun 16, 2020

Federal and local governments have issued a wide range of public health guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But it has largely been targeted at individuals. Guidance for businesses hasn’t been as forthcoming.

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Temperature Screening: Everything You Need to Know

By Shannon Arnold on May 26, 2020

Organizations across North America are figuring out how they can safely reopen. There is a lot of uncertainty about what the coming months and years will bring, but public health officials are starting to offer concrete guidance on managing the risks of COVID-19.

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Secure Asset Storage Improves Efficiency at Major Food Service Co.

By Shannon Arnold on May 20, 2020

Real Time Results — A Series of Confidential Case Studies

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7 Must-Have Features for Secure Laptop Lockers

By Shannon Arnold on May 11, 2020

Laptops have been common equipment in business and education for decades. Over that time, many crucial workflows have come to depend on laptops always being ready and available. This had led to an explosion of secure laptop lockers on the market, all claiming to offer the best security and management.

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Workplace Security Ideas to Safely Re-Open after Covid-19

By Shannon Arnold on May 6, 2020

As different parts of the world are planning to re-open their economies after a total lock-down lasting several weeks, organizations are facing an extreme amount of uncertainty. No one can predict the full outcome, but one outcome is certain: we will come out of this pandemic and we will need to be ready – but what do we need to be ready for? 

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What Is a Smart Locker? 7 Reasons Your Business Needs Them

By Shannon Arnold on Apr 15, 2020

Smart lockers are surprisingly flexible tools for securing equipment and managing workflows. They can benefit any business, from a small, local hotel to a multinational manufacturing corporation.

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Hotel Safety and Security Checklist [12 Vital Protections]

By Shannon Arnold on Apr 9, 2020

It is important to run a hotel security program that doesn’t compromise customer service. Some hotels see this as a challenge because they think security and customer service are at odds. But the right tools and business practices actually help you do both well.

The business advisory firm Deloitte agrees that finding the right balance of customer service and security is essential for the long term sustainability of hotels. To help you get a complete picture of your hotel security program we’ve developed a top-to-bottom hotel safety and security checklist. It walks you through 12 major aspects of hotel security that you will want to evaluate.

Assessing how your hotel performs in each area will help you discover what is working well, what needs to be improved, and where you might be able to use new technology to give yourself an edge on the competition. 

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6 Ways to Improve Security on College Campuses

By Shannon Arnold on Apr 1, 2020

Higher education can be an intense experience not just for students, but also for the faculty and support staff. Building a safe and secure environment for all stakeholders can greatly improve academic outcomes.

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Active vs. Passive RFID: How to Choose the Right Tracking Tech

By Shannon Arnold on Mar 26, 2020

Determining which wireless tracking technology is the best for your needs can be difficult. There are so many different products on the market today, and every one seems to have its own special features and an acronym for a name. The difference between active vs. passive RFID is one common source of confusion.

Topics: RFID devices
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Defining Your Key Control Program: 5 Steps for Businesses to Follow

By Shannon Arnold on Mar 12, 2020

Physical keys may not be high tech, but they’re a reliable and cost-effective way for businesses to secure their facilities. Good key management practices can save businesses time and money by eliminating key loss, preventing theft, and improving efficiency.

Topics: Key Control
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Your Complete Checklist for Emergency Preparedness in the Workplace

By Shannon Arnold on Mar 3, 2020

You may not be able to predict when emergencies will strike, but you can plan for them. In fact, developing an emergency preparedness plan is one of the most important strategic decisions a business can make. Taking a few simple steps today can save lives in the future and ensure your business's survival.

Many jurisdictions have laws requiring a degree of emergency preparedness in the workplace. But doing the minimum required by law often isn’t enough to ensure a business’s survival in the face of an emergency. In fact, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) found that 40-60 percent of businesses never reopen after their first disaster.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about emergency preparedness in the workplace. We’ll point you to the legislated requirements in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., as well as provide you with a comprehensive 7-step checklist you can use to develop your own emergency action plan:

  1. Assemble the correct stakeholders
  2. Conduct an emergency threat assessment
  3. Develop your core EAP procedures
  4. Outline EAP personnel responsibilities
  5. Train personnel on your EAP
  6. Identify procedures that can be automated
  7. Review your plan annually

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9 Steps to Create a Comprehensive Key Control Policy

By Shannon Arnold on Feb 21, 2020

Today’s environment calls for heightened security and a comprehensive, holistic key control policy. The purpose of a key control policy is to keep property, and people private, safe, and secure. It should give your organization control over access to spaces and assets.

Not sure how to set up a modern security policy? Here are nine steps for creating a comprehensive key control policy in the modern world:

  1. Identify gaps in your current key control policy.
  2. Invest in a patented key system.
  3. Create a master key system.
  4. Rekey your facility.
  5. Create and distribute a key holder agreement.
  6. Conduct staff training.
  7. Make lost key and new access steps clear.
  8. Use trusted resources during key control planning.
  9. Consider an RFID-based key control system.
Topics: Key Control
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Smart Lockers Keep Reading Body Running Smooth

By Shannon Arnold on Jan 28, 2020

Business was good for Reading Truck Body in 2019. The auto equipment manufacturer had been cranking out proudly USA-made trucking equipment for more than 60 years. And their reputation had grown to the point where they were doing solid business across North America.

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5 Best Practices for Evidence Management

By Shannon Arnold on Jan 8, 2020

In the US, Canada, and across the world, stories of mishandled criminal evidence are all too common. Each case further erodes the public’s trust in the criminal justice system.

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What is a Key Exit Alarm System?

By Shannon Arnold on Dec 17, 2019

Some businesses are content to simply use a pegboard and the honor system to manage keys. Other businesses find using an electronic key management system to be more effective. And then there are businesses that need an additional layer of control to ensure that their physical keys never leave the building.

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News: Real Time Networks Acquires Real Time Location, Ltd.

By Shannon Arnold on Dec 11, 2019

Real Time Networks has acquired Real Time Location, Ltd., a leading supplier of people and asset tracking solutions in the UK. Real Time Location was established in 2012 with headquarters located in Barnsley, England., and boast a number of Fortune 1000 clients.

Topics: Acquisition
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4 Hidden Costs of Losing Keys

By Shannon Arnold on Dec 3, 2019

The Need for Better Key Tracking

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What are Smart Security Systems?

By Shannon Arnold on Nov 26, 2019

Every product seems to have ‘smart’ slapped on the front of its name lately. It may not come as a surprise that many of them aren’t smart at all. But believe it or not, there is an actual definition for a ‘smart’ technology. And they’re very effective at what they do.

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What is a Physical Key Management System?

By Shannon Arnold on Nov 19, 2019

Business everywhere may be going digital, but physical keys will be part of security plans for a long time to come. And for good reason. Lock and key security provides an excellent level of security and access control, and it’s affordable for businesses of all sizes.

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EMS Agencies Fight Drug Diversion with Smart Locker Systems

By Shannon Arnold on Oct 29, 2019

The opioid crisis continues to worsen across North America. And as it does, hospitals and EMS agencies continue to struggle with drug diversion.

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How to Implement a Physical Security System Successfully

By Shannon Arnold on Oct 21, 2019

Probably one of the most complicated and unpredictable components of business security is managing the human element. In business security, people are both an asset and a liability. And they have a way of ruining even the best security plans.

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Mobile Device Management: An Unexpected Problem Going Paperless

By Shannon Arnold on Oct 15, 2019

Lessons from a Correctional Facility Going Paperless

Real Time Networks has helped law enforcement agencies deploy AssetTracer smart lockers for a variety of different reasons. Some facilities are interested in securing firearms and equipment when they’re not in use. Others care about managing chain of custody for their evidence kits or inmate belongings.

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5 New Uses for Mobile Credential Access Control

By Shannon Arnold on Oct 9, 2019

Real Time Networks recently announced its new partnership with VIZpin. We’re really excited to offer VIZpin’s mobile credential access control technology as an authentication option in our KeyTracer and AssetTracer management systems!

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Police Division Uses KeyTracer to Improve Fleet Efficiency

By Shannon Arnold on Sep 25, 2019

Real Time Results — A Series of Confidential Case Studies

This case study is part of an ongoing series that gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most challenging and sensitive business problems that Real Time Networks has helped solve. The clients are confidential. The results are real.

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Real Time Networks to Reveal New Features at GSX 2019

By Shannon Arnold on Sep 3, 2019

The GSX 2019 conference is almost here. Running September 8th-12th at McCormick Place in Chicago, this could be the largest GSX yet. And this year Real Time Networks is proud to debut a range of upgraded features for our key, asset, and people management solutions. Here are some highlights, but make sure to come see them for yourself at Booth 2153!

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101 on Asset Tracking Technology (or "Content Surveillance")

By Shannon Arnold on Jul 2, 2019

What is Content Surveillance? When should you use it, and when shouldn’t you use it?

The real power of the business and physical security solutions that we develop lies in how they integrate together. Possibly the best example of this is the content surveillance system available in our AssetTracer smart lockers for asset tracking. It connects physical asset lockers with centralized management software and our other real-time security systems. Whole new workflows are possible when these tools are integrated together.

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Key Control Helps Reduce a Major Telecom's Fleet Expenses 28%

By Shannon Arnold on Jun 25, 2019

Real Time Results — A Series of Confidential Case Studies

This case study is part of a new ongoing series that gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most challenging and sensitive business problems Real Time Networks has helped solve. The clients are confidential. The results are real.

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Ultimate 2019 Real Time Location System (RTLS) Tech Guide

By Shannon Arnold on May 29, 2019

It seems like two or three new wireless technologies are announced every year. And most are touted as the perfect tool to run a Real Time Location System (RTLS).

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Our Top 6 Creative Uses for Smart Lockers

By Shannon Arnold on May 15, 2019

There’s a reason that we call our asset lockers ‘ smart lockers ’. When people think ‘asset locker’ they often just envision storage space. But they can be much more.

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The Importance of Physical Key Management

By Shannon Arnold on Apr 30, 2019

It may seem obvious put this way, but if physical keys give access to your organization’s spaces, assets, and people, than they should get as much protection as those spaces, assets, and people. There are very real financial and operational risks if you don’t know who is going where with your keys.

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4 Aspects of Hotel Security Solutions that Matter

By Shannon Arnold on Apr 23, 2019

Identifying the best security tools that actually align with your hotel’s needs can be challenging. Even just researching new systems can feel like wading through a sea of buzzwords. RFID, analytics, IoT. It’s frustrating trying to figure out what’s actually relevant for your particular facility.

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Ultimate 2019 Physical Security Credentials Guide

By Shannon Arnold on Apr 16, 2019

Digital and physical attacks remain on the rise. That makes the authentication methods that your organization uses to secure its assets and facilities more critical than ever.

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Aloft Liverpool Hotel's Key Management Challenges

By Shannon Arnold on Apr 2, 2019

Historic Buildings, Modern Problems 

Aloft Liverpool located in city center Liverpool, England had a lot going for it. In just five short years it had established itself as a boutique destination hotel in an up and coming corner of the City Center district. Within walking distance of museums, concert halls, Liverpool’s Conference Center, and the scenic River Mersey, Aloft had turned the deteriorating Royal Insurance Building and surrounding area into an attractive mixture of “history and modernity,” as they liked to say.

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IoT - What It Is & How its Used in Real Time Location Solutions

By Shannon Arnold on Mar 19, 2019

IoT’ stands for Internet of Things, and it looks to remain a popular topic in both the consumer and enterprise tech spheres through 2018. It is of particular interest to security experts as the IoT holds both massive potential to aid their efforts and represents a massive threat.

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Thank You for Making 2018 a Great Year!

By Matt Belo on Dec 18, 2018

With 2018 drawing to a close, and a holiday season quickly approaching, we wanted to take this time to thank you for your continued business, loyalty and support. We strive every day to exceed expectations and, thanks to your continued feedback, we have introduced some brand new features and products to better help and serve you. Our priority is to offer the absolute best experience when it comes to Key and Asset Management. 

Let's use this opportunity to kick-back and take a look at a few of the things that made 2018 special.

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How Smart Locker Systems Help to Protect Against Insider Threats

By Shannon Arnold on Dec 11, 2018

Every organization worries about insider threats and insider attacks, and with good reason. Enterprise security surveys over the last decade have consistently shown between 50% and 60% of reported thefts and other losses annually have originating internally.

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Considering BYOD? Pros, Cons, and Solutions for Device Management

By Shannon Arnold on Dec 4, 2018

Allowing staff to bring and use their own devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones has been adopted by some businesses and is often referred to as a BYOD, “bring your own device”, policy. It’s a trend in today’s business climate as apps, social media, and remote workforces expand. Should you consider adopting a BYOD policy? Here are a few pros, cons, and a device management solution that we think allows for the best of both worlds: BYOD Lockers.

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Hotel Tablets - How to Manage Electronic Devices

By Matt Belo on Nov 27, 2018

By its very nature, the service industry is in a constant search for ways to improve and optimize the customer experience. Quicker sign in, improved staff workflow, and offering a personalized experience for each customer are all ways hotels aim to set themselves apart in an increasingly competitive industry. As a result, they’re turning to new methods and technologies to give themselves a competitive edge; the most recent trend we’re seeing in hotels and hospitality is the usage of handheld tablets, phones and iPods to staff members, concierges, and directly into rooms for customer use. The initiative has been put in place to enable staff to better serve customers and to help remain engaged in their day-to-day work. So you can expect a bit more than a mint on your pillow next time when you check into your hotel room for your next trip.  

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KeyTracer RFID Key Fob Torture Test

By Matt Belo on Nov 19, 2018

No Key Fobs were harmed in the making of this video.
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5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Developing an Enterprise Security Strategy

By Shannon Arnold on Nov 16, 2018

The goal of any security system is to permit only the movement that you actually want of people, assets, or data within your facility. That principle remains the same whether it’s officers and inmates in a corrections facility, mobile devices with sensitive data at a power plant, or forklifts in a warehouse. 

A proper Enterprise Security Strategy requires end-to-end execution, relying on a wide range of different access control and security systems integrated together. The challenge is cover any possible breaches, while being flexible as trends change. Rather than using brute force or expensive tactics, you should focus on carefully integrating all parts of your system so that there is no opportunities for malicious activity to take place. A carefully planned, fully secure system will save you more money in the future in the event you have a knee-jerk reaction to correct a problem when it's already too late.

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7 Reasons Why Law Enforcement Offices Are Using Electronic Lockers

By Matt Belo on Oct 30, 2018

Police and Law Enforcement Officers rely on a wide range of equipment to complete their every day job. Aside from relying on firearms and safety equipment, they deal with evidence, seized narcotics, and many objects that have unique storage requirements. Law Offices need to ensure the security, safety, accountability and reliability of every weapon, communication device, and items of interest that comes through the front door. As theft continues to increase, law officials are turning to tools that help them better manage dangerous assets, and to maintain proper chain of custody for evidence.

Police require control over a large number of varied items, and strict requirements on managing and tracking who has possession over them. Lockers are necessary to keep Firearms, Equipment, Pepper Spray, Evidence or hazardous items locked up and out of the wrong hands. They ensure the control and tracking of Assets and Equipment needed every day on the job, and assist with the tagging and filing of evidence. But many Law Enforcement Offices are now taking things a step further and implementing Electronic Smart Lockers, for higher security, more precise access control, better accountability, and additional tracking. 

What is an Electronic Asset Locker (or Smart Locker)?

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The True Cost of Asset Loss in a Digital World

By Matt Belo on Oct 23, 2018

As we all know, theft and asset loss are an unfortunate part of running a business. According to recent studies, 25% of employees have lost important assets relating to their job, and shoplifting combined with Employee Fraud and Theft cost retailers nearly $50 billion last year. While there are many tools to mitigate this loss, human error will always be present among even the most careful employees. 

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See you at Security Canada 2018 in Toronto!

By Matt Belo on Oct 19, 2018

Join us at Security Canada Central, the largest and most important security show in Canada this year at the Toronto Congress CentreWe wanted to personally invite our valued customers and followers to come visit us at the show. You can find us at Booth #333.

Topics: Announcement
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Key Fobs with a Lifetime Guarantee! See KeyTracer at G2E 2018

By Matt Belo on Sep 21, 2018

Key Management Systems are designed to keep your keys safe and secured. However, the main issue with many keys on the market is that they rely on metal contact. These attract rust, grime dust... and after hours of daily use... I'm sure you can imagine how well they work.

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KeyTracer has been rebranded as Real Time Networks!

By Matt Belo on Sep 20, 2018

Say "Hello" to Real Time Networks

You may have noticed that recent communications with us have been from Real Time Networks. We're very excited and happy to announce that KeyTracer has undergone a corporate rebranding, and is now part of the Real Time Networks family of products. You can continue to purchase the industry-leading RFID KeyTracer Key Control and Management Systems, but KeyTracer is now part of a larger suite of integrated security solutions.

Topics: Announcement
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Come See the Latest AssetTracer Smart Lockers at IACP 2018!

By Matt Belo on Sep 11, 2018

The International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference is quickly approaching. We wanted to take this time to personally invite our valued customers and followers to come visit us at the show. You can find us at Booth 1470. There will be lots of exciting things to see, as well as several ground-breaking new products.

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Real Time Networks to Reveal Asset Lockers at GSX

By Matt Belo on Sep 4, 2018

Global Security Exchange (GSX 2018) is quickly approaching, and we wanted to take this time to personally invite our valued customers and followers to come visit us at the show. You can find us at Booth 2143. There will be lots of exciting things to see, as well as several ground-breaking new products.

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Battle-Tested: 7 Access Control Best Practices

By Shannon Arnold on Jul 13, 2018

It's not if, but when your organization will suffer a security breach. Whether they’re large or small, or protecting from internal or external attacks, every organization must remain vigilant. Even the NSA, arguably the most secure US federal intelligence agency, failed to stop Edward Snowden from releasing an estimated 1.7 million sensitive records .

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Enterprise Security Trends: 2018 Mid-Year Update

By Shannon Arnold on Jun 12, 2018

Enterprise security threats continue to evolve, and it seems like it’s happening at an ever-increasing pace. Enterprise security solutions seem to be changing faster too. So we’re doing a mid-year update of our Access Control trends piece now that we’ve had a chance to see how 2018 is progressing.

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5 Ways Security Tech Helps Utilities with NERC Compliance

By Shannon Arnold on May 22, 2018

The utilities industry has the rare challenge of being accountable both for its own security and for the public’s. The penalties for even a small lapse in compliance are severe, let alone an actual breach. And as recent announcements by NERC make clear we can only expect Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards to get more rigorous over time.

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ROI Series: 6-Step Security Solution Purchasing Process

By Shannon Arnold on May 8, 2018

To help businesses as they head into budget planning, Real Time Networks has produced a new guide for getting maximum value from new physical security capital purchases.

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5 Benefits of Automating Key Management in Pharmaceutical Companies

By Shannon Arnold on Apr 17, 2018

Over the last decade, the pharmaceutical industry has seen overall growth, unexpected breakthroughs, sudden mergers, and just as sudden contractions. In such a turbulent market businesses are looking to create reliability wherever they can.

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Artificial Intelligence Trends in Security for 2018

By Shannon Arnold on Mar 21, 2018

2018 looks poised to be a breakout year for artificial intelligence (AI) in the security field. And it’s likely just the tip of the iceberg. Gartner Research anticipates the widespread adoption of AI technologies in core business areas across all sectors over the next 2-5 years.

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New Solution Brings Flexibility to Fleet Management

By Shannon Arnold on Nov 15, 2017

As your vehicle fleet grows, so does its management overhead. Mundane tasks like updating maintenance logs, tracking vehicle availability, or even just knowing where all your keys at a given time can get quite complex.

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Why Electronic Key Management is Critical for Fleet Managers

By Shannon Arnold on Oct 31, 2017

Fleet managers shoulder the responsibility for high value, potentially dangerous equipment. Not only are they tasked with maximizing the life of the fleet, they must also keep a close eye on security and liability concerns. And because most government, municipal and corporate fleet vehicles display the name and seal of their community, their operation and condition carries a strong public relations message.

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Key Management Systems Comparison

By Shannon Arnold on Oct 5, 2017

A wide range of key management systems are available today. It can be a challenge to decide exactly which one is right for your needs. This decision is critical, as not every key control system will work for every organization. Purchasing the wrong one can have serious financial repercussions.

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How to Choose the Right Access Control Card Technology

By Shannon Arnold on Aug 29, 2017

Access control cards may all look the same, but ‘under the hood’ the technologies driving them vary considerably. Different card systems have very different strengths, weaknesses, and price tags.

Choosing the card technology that best fits your business was already going to be challenging. But gone are the days when buying a security system meant that you only had to think about that one system. In our era of universal connectivity it’s essential to consider how a card system integrates with the rest of your security environment.

In this article we’ll take a look at the leading card technologies on the market today. We’ll also highlight some of the access control platforms that Real Time Networks products can integrate with. Our RTNHub management software was designed from the ground up to work smoothly with all of them, and other major business and security platforms, like Verizon Connect fleet management, Windows Active Directory, C-Cure, and S2 Security.

We’ll start with the more simple systems better suited for lower security environments, and then move up to more advanced RFID card systems.

Barcode Cards

Think scanning items at the grocery store. For access control, barcodes on access cards contain user credentials, which are scanned by card readers at control points. While cards and readers are inexpensive, they’re not very secure. They literally can be duplicated in 10 seconds at the office photocopier. They’re only applicable in very low risk security environments.

Magstripe Cards

These cards use the same technology as credit cards. The magnetic stripe holds credentials as a simple binary code that’s read when the card is swiped. The bad news is that magstripe card copying equipment is readily available online. So this is also best treated as an ‘entry level’ access control method for low risk settings.

Our technology partner Lenel sells magstripe systems for such a need, compatible with their Lenel OnGuard platform, in addition to their wider range of RFID card systems (More on those, below).

Wiegand Cards

This technology exploits a quirk in the behavior of magnetic fields around twisted metal wire to encode information. In access control, ‘Wiegand wires’ are embedded in plastic cards and magnetically encoded with unique credentials. These cards became popular in the 80s as a more secure upgrade to barcode and magstripe cards. Since credentials are encoded at manufacture, Wiegand cards cannot be reprogrammed or erased, and they’re harder to duplicate. While they’re still in use today, generally they’ve been made obsolete by more modern technology, namely…

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Cards

RFID cards transmit their credentials via binary computer code over the air. A card does not need to make physical contact with a reader to communicate. They contain small computer chips programmed to hold credentials to specific facilities. Cards receive wireless power when they’re in close proximity to readers. Credentials can also be encrypted in some versions, greatly enhancing security and making the cards much harder to duplicate.

RFID cards are currently the most common access control card type on the market. Two types dominate, each with different advantages.

Low Frequency RFID ‘Prox’ Cards

This is the most common RFID format. Prox is short for ‘proximity.’ These cards send credential information one way: from the card to the reader. The 26-bit version is an open format used by many manufacturers. Blank cards in that format are readily available and inexpensive.

You may have already guessed that this makes illicit duplicating easier. Which it does. Duplicating tools, and even online services, are very easy to come by. And the duplicates are difficult to identify and trace. That said, proximity cards are quite popular at low-to-mid levels of enterprise security. Especially in stable security environments, where needs don’t change year to year. They’re require no contact, which is good for usability and—we’ve found—means less maintenance.

Both AMAG Technologies and Lenel offer a variety of prox card options. Real Time Networks products easily integrate with both of their management platforms.

High Frequency RFID ‘Smart’ Cards

Smart cards were developed with the express purpose of being difficult to duplicate. Equipped with on-board processors, they’re essentially single-function computers, which—thanks to advanced encryption— authenticate the carrier with a unique code generated new for each individual transaction. Because they use two-way communication to authenticate, smart cards are much harder to duplicate. There’s also potential for connecting them to card payment systems and other personal identity-based tools.

AMAG, Lenel, and Genetec are all major carriers of smart card access control systems.

So How Do You Choose?

As with most security technology decisions there’s no one one-size-fits-all answer. Identifying the correct access control card system for you requires consideration of budget, desired security level, and future business directions. Smart cards are highly secure and adaptable if needs change, but are more expensive. They may not be the right fit if your goal for the next 10 years is just to regulate access to one university lecture hall, for example. On the other hand, if your university were investigating chip payment cards that might be able to run on the same standard, then it might make sense.

One specific question we hear a lot is what to do if you have a large install base of older cards. Replacing hundreds or even thousands of access cards in one fell swoop is going to be expensive, not to mention a logistical challenge. In this instance, we generally recommend first replacing legacy card readers with newer, multi-format readers that can accommodate both your legacy system and the new one. Then cards can be replaced simply through attrition. As new cards need to be issued, or old cards replaced, the newer proximity or smart cards are issued instead.

Hopefully now you’re in a good place to start the conversation with your business’s leadership and security providers about the best access control option for your needs. But if you’re looking for further help selecting the right integrated security systems, feel free to contact Real Time Networks today for help.

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Editor's Note: This post was originally published on August 28, 2017, and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Ameristar Casino Hotel Improves Key Control and Security

By Shannon Arnold on Aug 22, 2017

Ameristar Gains in Efficiency and Ensures That Stringent State Regulations are Met

Pinnacle Entertainment properties are not strangers to automated key control and key management best practices, having implemented these many years ago. However, over the years, their initial experience with key control had shed light on opportunities for improvement, which were recently put into practice at the Ameristar Casino Hotel in Iowa.

The Need for More Reliable Key Control

The organization’s first key cabinets relied on metal-to-metal contact for key tags to be accurately read by the system. Chris Hamblin, Director of Security and Facilities at Ameristar adds: “The reality is that metal-contact key tags get dirty and corroded over time, which affects the system’s ability to make contact, and its reliability. It’s labor intensive to keep them clean, and that often falls under the responsibility of Security.”

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Electronic Access Control: A Computerized Gatekeeper

By Shannon Arnold on Aug 14, 2017

Plenty of folks have had the experience of being "buzzed" through a door. It happens like this: After checking your ID or recognizing your face, a receptionist presses a button. You hear a buzzing sound indicating that the door is now open. (And by the way, if you’ve never seen the old “door buzzer” skit with Carol Burnett and Tim Conway, open a new tab and Google it. Now. It will add a whole new layer to your understanding of access control). The “door buzzer” experience illustrates the inner workings of an Electronic Access Control (EAC) system. In its simplest form, an EAC system consists of an electronic door lock, a reader (such as a card reader or keypad), and some form of controller. In our example, the receptionist's eyes are the reader that allows her to recognize you. Her brain is the controller. If her brain is convinced that you belong inside, it will send a signal to her finger, ordering it to press a button and release the lock.

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Key Cabinets + CPTED Make Your Business a Harder Target

By Shannon Arnold on Jul 25, 2017

Except for the more garish super villains, criminals avoid the spotlight. Most prefer to operate in theaters where they can remain in the shadows and maintain a level of control.  Enter Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). CPTED is not a new sensor or camera. Rather, CPTED is a set of design principles intended to take the sense of anonymity and control away from the bad guys; and by doing so, make your facility a harder target. CPTED principles, when properly applied, allow you to anticipate the thought process of potential offenders and reduce the opportunity for crime.

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Make Your Physical Security Investment Bullet-Proof in 4 Steps

By Shannon Arnold on Jul 6, 2017

Many organizations design their security program from the perspective that it’s just another cost of doing business. Money you have to spend so the rest of the business can do its work in peace.

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Defend Against Insider Threats with Real-Time Asset Management

By Shannon Arnold on Jun 7, 2017

Many people see asset management systems only as ways to protect their company’s electronics and hardware from theft. But current security technology collecting real-time, location-based data is also effective at protecting your company against a range of insider threats.

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Asset Management in the Age of the BYOD Workplace

By Shannon Arnold on May 30, 2017

Managing electronic assets at your business is difficult enough without having to worry about your staff’s personal devices. But this has become a common problem with the advent of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) expectations at many companies. Sometimes the expectation is pushed by employees, but sometimes it’s driven by employers themselves. 

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Automated Roll Call & Mustering Solutions Protect Staff

By Shannon Arnold on May 2, 2017

The best way to protect your business against emergencies is with preparation. Emergency situations can happen unexpectedly and at any time. Your staff—especially your emergency response team—needs to divide its attention among a large number of equally important tasks, like first aid, emergency shutdown procedures, and even basic roll call of evacuees.

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KeyTracer Integration with AMAG Symmetry Access Control Software

By Shannon Arnold on May 1, 2017

AMAG Technology, the security management system manufacturer, has announced Real Time Networks as the newest certified partner within the Symmetry Preferred Partner Program.  As a certified partner, Real Time Networks' KeyTracer Key Management System integrates with AMAG’s latest Symmetry Access Control software.  AMAG Technology and KeyTracer cooperatively tested and certified this integration.

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Best Practices for Designing Security Guard Tours

By Shannon Arnold on Apr 18, 2017

Reliable guard tour systems help any business maximize the benefits of their security patrols.

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4 Reasons for Infosec & Physical Security Convergence

By Shannon Arnold on Apr 11, 2017

In a few short years ‘convergence’ has gone from just a buzzword, to a supposed fad, to now the new normal way of operating. This rapid shift in thinking has come about mainly because technological convergence is no longer a trend specific to the security industry, it now reflects a larger change in our society.

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5 Common Mistakes to Avoid: Building Security Systems

By Shannon Arnold on Mar 31, 2017

The goal of any physical security system is to permit only the movement that you actually want of people, assets, or data within your facility. That principle remains the same whether it’s officers and inmates in a corrections facility, mobile devices with sensitive data at a power plant, or forklifts in a warehouse.

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Need To Know: Defending Your IoT Security Systems

By Shannon Arnold on Mar 7, 2017

Internet of Things (IoT) technology continues to disrupt both the consumer and enterprise sectors, and as each powerful new use is found its adoption is only expected to grow.  But many IoT security risks remain.

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How Key Management Systems Ground Commercial Security

By Ralph Goodman on Mar 7, 2017

Key management systems have become essential parts of commercial security protocols. They open new levels of security that were previously inaccessible to many business owners. These systems make it possible to organize access levels to a plethora of things which include, but are not limited to, warehouses, restricted facilities, and equipment.

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Need Better Asset Protection? Decide With This Quick 3-Step Appraisal

By Shannon Arnold on Feb 22, 2017

Determining the correct amount of protection to give your assets and facilities can be difficult. Ensuring you use only the most cost-effective security solutions requires you to first have a good understanding of your unique security threats and operational needs.

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Six Access Control Trends for 2019

By Shannon Arnold on Feb 15, 2017

Editor's Note: Originally published February 15, 2017. Updated in January 2019 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

It's a new year, and what better time to look at some of the changes over the past year that lead to new trends in 2019. For access control, those trends are moving steadily toward more devices, more points of access and definitely more data. 

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Six Signs That You Need Better Physical Security Controls

By Shannon Arnold on Jan 17, 2017

Your business or institution may not be as safe or secure as you imagine. Here are a half dozen signs that your security isn’t as strong, smooth or efficient as you might think.

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Electronic Key Management : A Framework to Analyze ROI

By Shannon Arnold on Jan 10, 2017

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A Buyer's Guide: The Top Ten Checklist for Key Management Systems

By Shannon Arnold on Oct 27, 2016

There are many key management systems available on the market, and many competing providers make similar claims. To help guide your planning and purchasing process and make wise choices, Key Tracer has tapped its 10+ years of industry experience with the questions that we get asked every day to create a best practices guide. If you’re considering buying a key control system for the first time, or looking to upgrade your existing system, there are principles that you want to keep in mind. We've summarized some of the key points from this guide below.

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The Evolution of Fleet Management Solutions

By Shannon Arnold on Oct 24, 2016

It wasn’t that long ago that fleet management was more of a guessing game, with labor-intensive manual logs. What's more, key-cut businesses were racking in the dough cutting multiple keys for local businesses with fleets. When a key went missing, a runner was sent to get a new one cut.

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Real Time Networks Introduces New Radio Lockers

By Shannon Arnold on Oct 20, 2016

We always like to remind people that Real Time Networks tracks more than key control—eliminating the cost and risk of managing keys for companies, campuses, correction facilities and more. We’re also committed to protecting all your secured assets—from weapons to electronic devices to two-way radios.

Topics: asset lockers
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Don’t Optimize Your Key Management Process, Eliminate It!

By Shannon Arnold on Sep 20, 2016

Think for a moment about all the steps and all the people involved with doing something that seems so simple; issuing, tracking and returning keys. Guards or other personnel are appointed to the key management process—often more than one and often 24 hours a day. There are supervisors monitoring those guards. There are sign in/out sheets and logs maintained and regular reporting that has to be done. And that’s if things go smoothly. If physical keys are lost or stolen, more people get involved, more forms are filled out, and sometimes outside vendors brought into to re-key locks.

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Syracuse University Automates with Key Control and Gun Lockers

By Shannon Arnold on Aug 18, 2016

Countless Hours Spent Tracking Keys and Firearms Resolved by Automating with Key Control and Firearm Lockers

When Syracuse University implemented electronic key cabinets and asset lockers, they immediately found that the automated system increased efficiency and significantly reduced labor costs associated with key control and asset management.

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Garland County Increases Key Security and Accountability

By Shannon Arnold on Jul 6, 2016

Paper Logs Result in Errors, Lost Keys, and Time Wasted

Before implementing an electronic key security system, Deputies at Garland County’s Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center would report to work, and obtain keys in a locked key box behind the old booking desk.
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Olympic Park Tightens Security with Real-Time Key Tracking

By Shannon Arnold on Jun 14, 2016

Key Control Challenges

Prior to automating key control, the Montreal Olympic Park had been using a handwritten registry to track the issue and return of approximately 2,500 keys. Each day, someone was responsible for manually recording which key sets were being checked out and by whom, on which day and time, and recording the return of the keys.

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Key Management a Challenge for Walla Walla University

By Shannon Arnold on Mar 7, 2016

Walla Walla University prides itself on a student-based employment program that encourages students to earn money while they attend school. Because of this, security can be an issue when multiple students are provided access to different areas of the school and there’s no way of tracking the keys.

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Real Time Networks Solutions Now Available in the United Kingdom

By Shannon Arnold on Oct 1, 2015

Real Time Networks opens new offices overseas to support increasing demand for key control systems in the UK.

Topics: uk
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RFID Technology Delivers the Best ROI on Key Management Solutions

By Shannon Arnold on Sep 8, 2015

Shopping for Key Management Solutions? - Ask about RFID

Those metal tags you use to manage and monitor your keys are costing you a lot of time and a lot of money—without delivering a lot of value.

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The Benefits of Implementing a Key Management System

By Shannon Arnold on Mar 10, 2015


Security is a huge concern in the modern world. Threats arise both big and small that can be costly and time consuming to businesses. Not only do businesses contain valuable equipment and cash inside their premises, there can also be client information and other types of data that is confidential, as well as exclusive ideas and inventions.

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Top 3 advantages of a RFID-Based Guard Tour System

By Shannon Arnold on May 9, 2012

Manage and monitor the security of premises using a guard tour system

It proves beneficial to the patrolling guards and improves their efficiency as well. Moreover, this system keeps a complete audit trail of your guards' tours and checkpoints. Among several benefits that it offers, the top 3 advantages of RFID-based guard tour systems are discussed below.

Topics: guard tour
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