Enhancing Security in Next Generation Kiosk Designs

December 1, 2016 Rachel Kane

Steve Spatig, General Manager, Electronic Access Solutions, Southco, Inc.

With the Self Service industry experiencing rapid growth, discussions about security tend to focus on preventing identity theft and data hacking; however, physical security is still a vital component in this market, particularly for Self-Service enclosures. As Self Service providers continue to explore new ways of delivering their services to consumers, they must look at how these next generation designs are secured against the threat of theft and vandalism as well.

With the introduction of high-value retail and vending kiosks and “intelligent vending” systems, Self Service providers have identified a need for more enhanced physical security solutions that can be controlled and monitored remotely. Design engineers can help Self Service providers improve control, increase security and reduce asset loss by integrating intelligent electronic locks into Self Service kiosk and enclosure designs.

Electronic locks that communicate with networked systems

With demand for automated retail services increasing, many providers are investing in new technologies that provide a “bigger picture” perspective into their Self Service operations. For instance, manufacturers are incorporating wireless technology into kiosks and enclosures that allow operators to track inventory and generate sales records remotely. These intelligent vending systems are often equipped with remote machine monitoring (RMM), allowing kiosk owners to monitor multiple machines over a network.

Intelligent electronic locks and latches can be integrated into these systems, allowing the provider to track routine maintenance access and be alerted to unauthorized access to their machine, just as they track information about their services through RMM. With this kind of intelligence, owners can efficiently manage their Self Service system security remotely.

An electronic access system combines three integral elements into one cohesive system to provide enhanced intelligent security for Self Service applications. A complete solution includes an electromechanical lock or latch, access control or user interface, and remote monitoring capabilities.

These intelligent electromechanical locks create an electronic signature each time the equipment is accessed that can provide user authentication, audit trail and reporting capabilities, simplifying security administration and eliminating opportunities for theft.

The electromechanical lock is the primary component of any electronic access solution, as it ultimately influences physical security, door design, system electrical requirements and overall industrial design. Southco’s R4-EM Electronic Rotary Latch for example, contains sensors and output signals that provide data for both local and remote monitoring, making it ideal for securing ATMs and vending machines with high-value inventory. This compact locking mechanism is mounted inside the equipment, eliminating pry points and allowing a clean exterior appearance that protects it from vandalism.

Electronic access solutions like the R4-EM are ideal for Self Service enclosures as they can provide an indisputable audit trail of access for all enclosure doors and panels that are secured electronically. Each time the door or panel of an enclosure is opened or closed, a signal is sent to a monitoring system to confirm and log access. Depending on the configuration, electronic access reporting can provide more than just simple open/closed information – such as which credential activated the electronic lock and the time and duration of the event.

Electronic access solutions for new design challenges

As new Self Service applications continue to evolve, designers are pushing the boundaries with innovative, interactive designs for kiosks and vending equipment. Some of the more common services emerging in the world of Self Service are pharmacy dispensing, parcel lockers and bicycles rental kiosks. Electronic locks present an excellent option for enhancing security and usability in each of these applications.

Current kiosks in healthcare settings today are primarily used for check in and payment, but have the potential to expand to prescription and drug vending as health insurance options in the US become more competitive. Electronic locking options provide the security and accountability necessary to ensure that high value pharmaceuticals and confidential patient information are protected.

Pick-Up Drop-Off parcel lockers are typically owned by a parcel distribution service or retailer and allow users to pick up their packages in one place, from a secure location. Vulnerability to physical theft is a concern as these packages often contain valuable merchandise. Electronic locks can be installed within the panels of these individual “lockers” and set to release once the customer has entered their unique access code into the locker user interface.

On bicycle rental kiosks, electronic locks can be used to lock each bike securely in place when not in use, and allow easy release when activated by the payment system or user interface. Electronic locks used for this specific application must be constructed of heavy duty materials, with a corrosion resistant body and electrical components sealed against the elements.

Security is critical to Self Service design

It is essential that designers of Self Service enclosures give careful consideration to the hardware that controls access to the enclosure. As the demand for automated consumer services and retail vending continues to escalate, choosing the right security solution is critical to Self Service design. Selecting the appropriate electronic access solution provides reliable, secure access control for Self Service applications, by leveraging existing networks and remote monitoring systems.

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