Home People High-Security Electromechanical Locking Solutions for Critical Infrastructure

High-Security Electromechanical Locking Solutions for Critical Infrastructure

Protecting the world’s critical infrastructure is a complex mission. Managing security for these facilities involves addressing a broad range of possible threats and vulnerabilities, from the intentional contamination of water supplies to the theft of equipment vital to electricity distribution.

Vandalism, theft or deliberate sabotage — by terrorists or other criminals — are ever-present threats.

The consequences of any security breach can be dire, both for the entities involved and for everyone who depends on the continuing operation of critical infrastructure — which is most of us.

The European Union Council defines critical infrastructure as an asset, system or part thereof … that is essential for the maintenance of vital societal functions, health, safety, security, economic or social well-being of people, and the disruption or destruction of which would have a significant impact.

It includes utilities, power and gas companies, water and wastewater system providers, telecommunications, and transportation systems. The reliable operation of these systems is crucial to business, to the overall economy, and to society as a whole. Because critical infrastructure tends to be interconnected, the failure of one system can negatively impact the whole infrastructure.

In recognition of the importance of critical infrastructure, EU Member States are directed to report every two years about the types of risks, threats and vulnerabilities related to it, and on the measures necessary for its protection.


The Role of Locking Systems in Critical Infrastructure

As a tool to address the complex security scenarios facing critical infrastructure, locks are indispensable. For internal uses, locking devices on doors, elevators, machines, shutters, cupboards, cabinets and switchgears prevent unauthorised access. In critical infrastructure environments, locks are often required to be resistant to extreme temperatures, dust and toxic substances, fire and explosions.

For outdoor infrastructure sites, locks must perform in environments that are even more challenging, including rain and manipulation. Here, locking equipment secures outdoor gates, fences, doors, shutters, switchgears and key safes.

Critical infrastructure facilities tend to operate across large geographic areas, to have multiple and remote locations, and to have a large number of people needing to access those sites. Critical infrastructure companies often work with third-party companies and/or contractors who may need temporary access to a remote site. Locking systems must accommodate these challenges, too.

Specifically, critical infrastructure facilities can benefit from a high-security locking system that combines electronic and mechanical security; in effect, providing an intelligent combination of both. Programmable keys are powered by replaceable batteries (with 10-year battery life), which energise the lock cylinder once the key is inserted. Communication between the cylinder and the key is encrypted to ensure the highest levels of security.

Programmable locks for different applications are wireless, so installation is fast and on-site maintenance requirements are minimal.

When the key is inserted into the lock, an audio indication is given and LED indicators inform the user whether or not the key has the necessary access rights. Key management software and programming devices allow administrators to program, amend or delete keys remotely and instantly. A key can be given a short authorisation time-window, thus minimising risks associated with lost keys.

Security managers can generate time-stamped audit trails for any lock or key, and trace access workflows.

This is the kind of locking system that critical infrastructure — and its users — demands.

Meeting Security and Workflow Requirements

Below are some ways the CLIQ® locking system from  can simplify security and workflow for critical infrastructure entities, and some examples of how existing customers are using the technology.

Operation across a large geographic area and remote locations

Telecommunications companies have hundreds of thousands of street cabinets they need to keep locked; personnel require access to a specific number of those cabinets — but not all of them. The same challenges apply to remote telecom towers, water pumping stations, well-heads and reservoir perimeters, electrical substations, remote natural gas pumping stations, pipelines, and maintenance access points along them.

Transportation hubs, including rail and train systems, have restricted areas adjacent to public areas, including equipment rooms, power generation rooms, and power boxes. Access must be controlled to keep the general public out, and yet still allow authorised people in.

The flexibility of the CLIQ® system enables a simple, easy-to-manage approach to securing any remote location. Electricity North West owns 57,000 kilometres of overhead lines and underground cables, as well as 34,000 transformers, in urban and remote rural locations across north-west England.

The company chose CLIQ® technology to keep key management watertight and to enhance the management of their complex workflows in the most efficient way.

Battery-powered CLIQ® keys are programmable, so a temporary contractor can be issued with a key that permits entry to specific sites for a time-limited period.

After the authorisation period ends, the key no longer works. Electricity North West now has almost 2,000 CLIQ® user keys and 43 CLIQ® programming devices to update key access rights remotely.

Expanding the scope of access control to more doors and other types of access (gates, elevators, etc)

Previously, some employees had to carry an enormous number of keys for their day-to-day work. However, a single CLIQ® key can both lighten the load and increase security at a variety of openings. At Eskilstuna Energi och Miljö (Eskilstuna Energy and Environment) in Sweden, the CLIQ® locking system works with various types of buildings and security setups, from access-controlled high-security perimeter fencing to openings where a padlock provides sufficient deterrence.

Keys have been issued to around 400 Eskilstuna Energi employees, plus various third-party consultants, technicians and the utility’s water-tower tenants. Multiple types of building require security, including a waterworks, a heating plant and a recycling centre, plus around 300 pump stations in the area.

The company operates around the clock, providing water, heating, electricity and environmental services to approximately 97,000 residents in the city and municipality of Eskilstuna, 100 km (62 miles) west of Stockholm.

Adding more access control flexibility

Flexible access control manages access levels for various user groups — permanent staff, part-time staff and third-party contractors. It’s quick and easy for a customer such as Stadtwerke Speyer to reprogram its cylinders when access rights need to be changed.

Stadtwerke Speyer supplies a Rhineland town — of 50,000 residents — with power, gas, water and district heating. Operating sites may be removed or added to the portfolio, and other security and access control needs may change. CLIQ®’s flexibility enables them to manage doors, padlocks and gates using one CLIQ® locking system, incorporating about 300 locking cylinders across multiple sites. In the case of a service provider, access can be granted automatically only at preordained times.

For Stadtwerke Kiel in northern Germany, CLIQ® is flexible enough to assign different areas with individual levels of security and to give employees and contractors “fine-grained,” personalised access to only the areas for which they are authorised.

Providing better overall operational security

CLIQ® customers make security part of their routine. Every morning, employees arriving at Helsingin Energia, one of Finland’s largest energy companies, update their access rights using CLIQ®. An audit trail for the previous day is collected at the same time.

The access rights of every key are updated every 10 hours, ensuring the company meets the highest security standards. Helsingin Energia secures around 3,500 interior and exterior doors across 70 locations ranging from power plants to warehouses. More than 1,250 employees and 1,500 workers are using CLIQ®.

A small change made a big difference at Electricity North West. CLIQ® padlocks now secure gates, fences and many more external locking points at their widely dispersed sites. The company’s old brass padlocks had on occasion been targeted by thieves for their scrap value.

Their new CLIQ® padlocks are made from chrome-plated hardened steel, with no significant scrap value, removing another persistent operational security threat. The new padlocks all meet required security standards, are tested to BS EN12320, and are certified to LPS 1654.

Impervious to environmental conditions

At Stadtwerke Kiel, extreme temperatures and other severe weather are a significant factor, because many of the group’s secured openings are outdoors. The CLIQ® system — including 10,000 or so locking cylinders used to secure multiple sites — is resistant to environmental extremes. More than 250,000 people in Schleswig-Holstein’s regional capital, Kiel, and its surrounding municipalities rely on Stadtwerke Kiel for electricity, gas, water and district heating supply.

Streamlining workflows

Updating access can be automated and does not require the system administrator to do anything. At Stadtwerke Speyer, security staff can reprogram cylinders quickly and easily whenever access rights need to be changed.

Providing more information for audits

The CLIQ® Web Manager software records an audit trail each time a key is used. The trail stores both the time and the nature of each event for all locations. For compliance applications, the system offers an audit trail and a real-time clock that shows who has visited a site and for how long.

In the case of external contractors, for example, an infrastructure administrator might need to verify that a contractor actually visited a site for which he has billed time.

Did the cleaning crew visit every day as expected? Did a technician arrive for scheduled maintenance? The system enables customers to increase their security, expand their situational awareness, save time and manage or even reduce their operational costs.


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