Roanoke Airport Case Study

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Protecting Valuable Physical Assets in a High Traffic Setting

A public facility, such as an airport, must manage multiple entrances and security access points and identify the best solution for each one.  For years, the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission in Roanoke, Va., used a combination of electronic card reader door locks and standard padlocks to guard sensitive areas of the airport.  Although the use of two locks might seem redundant in other settings, in an airport environment it is necessary in case the electronic readers fail.

Card readers play an important role in helping airports meet TSA regulations that govern how these large, busy public facilities monitor and track openings.  But when it came to the standard lock and key backup system for card readers at the airport, Law Enforcement officials felt that surely there could be a better and more up-to-date security solution.

Although the mechanical key was only a backup, one lost key was one lost key too many for the airport.   In the tiered key system, a lost key means determining if the key is a master level key (opens all doors within that system) or operator level (opens specific doors only).  Re-keying, re-pinning and re-issuing replacement keys must all happen very quickly.  Finally, the TSA needs to be notified within a certain time frame that the key has been lost and the locks have been changed—essentially they need assurance that physical security has not been compromised. 

In 2011, a ROA employee lost a mechanical key.  Although it was found within a few hours, the loss of the key was concerning enough for the airport’s Law Enforcement group to take action.  

“We needed a solution for these doors where a mechanical key system was no longer enough,” says Sgt. Tony Agee, an officer with Roanoke Regional Airport Commission Law Enforcement.  “We were also looking for a lock and key system that could be tailored to our needs and would give us audit capabilities of when the doors are opened and who is opening them.”

The airport found a solution with Medeco XT eCylinders—a lock system that works when access needs to be controlled, measured and monitored.  In the event of a lost key, a Medeco XT key cannot be duplicated. Access rights for the lost key can be changed quickly and easily via a web based program—so the modification can be made on a computer or a smartphone to prevent unauthorized entry.     From there, the entire lock system is updated by reprogramming each cylinder using the new code/control key.  There is no need to spend time or money physically re-keying or re-pinning.

“With the Medeco XT cylinders we now have audit capabilities similar to our card reader system,” continues Agee. 

The Medeco XT lock brand was attractive also because the only part that needed to be replaced was the cylinder—making the upgrade to existing locks easy and more cost-effective than installation of a completely new system.

“We retrofitted the mechanical cylinders with the new Medeco XT cylinders,” says Agee.  “Now, if someone loses a key, we can use our control key to lock out the lost key—which is a simple process and can be accomplished in a fraction of the time previously required.”

Pleased with the performance of the initial Medeco  XT cylinder installation, the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission installed additional Medeco XT cylinders in other doors and locks, and plans to complete the security upgrade in the upcoming fiscal year.

“We now have the accountability needed to ensure the Airport is protected from unnecessary liability or risk and its passengers, employees and visitors are safe,” adds Agee.