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Council unlocks convenience, security and cost efficiency with mobile keys

Monday 01 June 2020


Located to the south east of Melbourne, Cardinia Shire stretches from the Dandenong hills in the north to the shores of Western Port Bay in the south. Its 1283 square kilometres encompass cities, suburbs, parks and beaches and are home to one of the top ten fastest growing local populations in Australia.

The Cardinia Shire Council provides services to this population through 220 council owned sites and buildings - including childcare centres, recreation facilities, community centres, halls, public toilets, and council offices.

“Cardinia is a large shire, with council buildings spread throughout the area. It could take staff an hour to travel from one side of the shire to another. With SALTO, our staff manage access remotely, and we’ve eliminated all that travel time.”

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The Challenge

The Council was looking for a more time and cost effective way to manage access, by staff, contractors and the public, explains the Council’s Rachel Zoldak: “We were using traditional locks and keys”, says the Client Services and Systems Senior Officer, whose role includes managing access to the Council’s buildings and facilities. “Every time a key was lost, we had the expense of replacing locks, replacing keys and getting the new keys to the users. With a shire the size of Cardinia, it can take an hour to drive to some of our sites. If a master key was lost, the headache was massive. We had to replace even more locks. We have 2500 across the shire, so it was a big issue.”

It wasn’t just lost keys that caused problems. “We have a number of buildings that need to be locked at night”, continues Rachel. “For those facilities, such as childcare centres and public toilets, it was important for us to find a solution that didn’t require physical locking and unlocking.”

Visibility of access is essential too: “Sites like sports centres are used by a wide range of groups, so we required a system to track keys, and data on how many people were occupying buildings and when.”

“Facilities that are locked overnight no longer need someone to be physically present to lock and unlock them.”

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The Solution

Cardinia Shire heard about the SALTO Electronic Access Control (EAC) system used by the nearby City of LaTrobe, and made the journey east to see it in operation. They were impressed with what they saw. They also knew that the system was helping to drive efficiencies at Bayside, Moonee Valley and Horsham councils. After the due tendering process, Cardinia selected a SALTO mobile-based approach for their own 2500 locks.

“With the new system, the user’s mobile phone becomes the key”, explains Rachel. “We grant access through a central system and send the ‘key’ to the user’s phone. Access requires no travel and can be instant if required.” She continues: “The doors have an electronic lock that reads the access information from the phone. Because the locks need no wiring, they are really quick, easy and cost effective to install.”

(The council does offer users the option to have an electronic fob rather than use their phone, but strongly encourages the latter and aims to phase out fobs over time).

Key benefits

The SALTO EAC is transforming the way that the Shire Council manages access to its facilities:

  • They no longer need to worry about lost keys. For a start, users are far less likely to lose their phone than a key, but if a fob or phone does get lost, re-issuing access is a simple, remotely managed task. The cost of a new fob is less than half that of a key and there’s no need to go through the pain and expense of changing locks.
  • A single fob or phone can be programmed for more than one lock, so users who access multiple sites are no longer weighed down by a bunch of keys, but use the same ‘key’ for all. 
  • Council has a full audit trail of who has accessed which facilities. They can allocate and control access times, making sure that users can only use the facilities during their designated timeslots. 
  • The remote auto-locking capability has increased building security and saved the cost of guards. The Council can program the doors to lock and unlock to a schedule, without relying on people to physically be there.
  • With Council staff no longer needing to travel the length and breadth of the Shire to deal with access issues, they can spend more time focussing on the core work of delivering service to the public.

“Users love the convenience of their phone being their key. For us, the phone based keys save money and time, and give us a visible audit trail.”

Although the rollout is still under way, it’s already proving its value. “All in all”, sums up Rachel, “the SALTO system is so much more convenient for staff and users, it’s increased the security of valuable Council facilities and assets, it’s cost effective and it’s saving us an incredible amount of time. It was definitely a great decision.”

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