Robust Physical Security: Access Control for the One-Percent Cases

By Bernhard Mehl
May 21, 2019

We started Kisi in 2012 to build a modern access control system. Over the last seven years, we have designed countless iterations of hardware and software—improving each evolution of the system based on your feedback. We wanted to build the best access control system that you could imagine.

What we’ve learned through building this platform is that access control doesn’t just need new features; it needs to work under extreme conditions—that means connectivity issues and, more importantly, emergencies.

At Kisi, we call these the ‘one-percent cases’—features you may only need one percent of the time. They don’t happen often and 99 percent of security systems don’t have features for these conditions; however, it’s these one-percent scenarios that make all the difference. That’s why our guiding philosophy is to design apps that don’t have hundreds of features, but rather an app that needs to work in hundreds of different worst-case scenarios.

To achieve that high standard of reliability while embracing a modern approach, we started by rebuilding the access control stack with three features that include:

  • Mobile first—even offline.
  • Door-scheduled unlocks—even without the cloud.
  • Facility lockdown—triggered from anywhere.

These are three features that we think exemplify our mission and we’d like to explain each one.

Mobile First: Even Offline

Kisi has a ‘mobile first’ philosophy for physical security. Our users primarily utilize mobile devices to run their businesses; therefore, we build intuitive and powerful Android and iOS apps that work while the phone is completely offline (with little or no access to Internet or mobile data). As the highest-rated access control app on the Play Store and iOS, our users enjoy this mobile-first approach. This technology uses NFC on Android and Bluetooth for iOS.

Door-Scheduled Unlocks: Even Without Cloud Connection

If you schedule a door to be open for a certain amount of time and then lose Internet connection your door should still continue what it’s programmed to do. In the past, without access to the cloud, the security protocol would default to locking the door. To solve this problem, we transformed our door controller into a modern version of an on-premise system. All controllers run custom firmware so we can keep the door schedule on the local device and carry out the pre-programmed door scheduling—even without connection to the cloud.

Facility Lockdown: From Anywhere

You can’t be on-site all the time, but your space needs 24/7 security. We want you to stay in full control of your facility, wherever you are. We built a lockdown feature into the app that, when activated, only allows the administrator to unlock doors. This feature is only necessary for the worst emergencies, but if an emergency takes place this feature can make a difference. We are the first access control system, to our knowledge, that allows remote lockdown from a mobile app—making the most powerful features easily accessible.

Thanks for Being a Part of Our Journey

We’re looking forward to continue to transform the access control industry with the companies who use Kisi—those that not only trust our product, but have become fans of our approach to constantly push the envelope on what’s possible in our industry. From where we stand, modern technology like mobile and cloud make more robust security systems than legacy on-premise systems ever could. Thanks for joining us on this journey and we’re looking forward to sharing our next, truly game-changing, announcement with you soon.

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Bernhard Mehl

Bernhard is the co-founder and CEO of Kisi. His philosophy, "security is awesome," is contagious among tech-enabled companies.

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