The role of smart locks in times like these

By igloohome | March 26, 2020

One of the most talked-about ads from this year’s Super Bowl was a Google commercial of an elderly man sharing memories of his late wife, Loretta, with his Google Assistant. If you’re about to watch it now, I’d recommend getting some tissues first.

This commercial highlights one of the reasons I love technology — the multiplicity of uses that even the creators don’t often consider. It’s true; sometimes the lack of thoughtfulness results in features that are ripe for abuse and harassment, but other times the creativity of users can be quite incredible.

Let’s talk about smart homes. The smart home industry is expected to reach $47 billion in revenue by 2024 in the United States alone¹, so you’re likely already the owner of a smart home product or about to become one.

In my childhood home, it was my 20-year-old brother who installed a smart lock, purchased smart outlets, and set up a smart doorbell. My Baby Boomer/Gen X parents didn’t necessarily put up a fight, but it’s unlikely they would have made such a purchase decision on their own.

It’s perhaps easiest to associate technology with Gen Z and Millennials, but there is another population making use of smart home tech too — the elderly.

According to Digital Trends, the annual cost of assistance for the senior population is nearly $2 trillion. These are overwhelming expenses that often fall on children and family members.

By turning to technology, senior citizens can maintain independence and their families can feel more at ease. Even in standard circumstances, the advantages are abundant.

However, the benefits were never more clear than in today’s time.

The newest form of coronavirus, COVID-19, is known to disproportionately affect older patients. For those 80+, the death rate is at 14.8%. It’s important for everyone to listen to health care professionals and stay inside, but it’s especially important for those that are 60+ to avoid leaving their homes.

Like many other smart lock companies, we at igloohome didn’t specifically design our products for senior citizens. However, we soon realized the important role that we can play with protecting people’s parents and grandparents.

Here are some ways that smart lock features can be used to protect your loved ones during this time (and at all times).

Delivery access

Grocery deliveries, deliveries of essential goods — the number of online orders is skyrocketing. There are ordinarily three options for people accepting deliveries.

  1. Deliveries are left outside: With this option, there’s a risk of theft and the recipient of the goods has to carry them inside.

  2. Recipient meets the delivery at the door: With this option, there is contact between the recipient and the person making the delivery.

  3. The door is left unlocked during the delivery window: The recipient leaves their door unlocked, and notifies the person making a delivery that they can enter the home when they arrive. This leaves the recipient vulnerable.

That’s where one-time access comes in. Generate a one-time PIN code that can be shared with anyone bringing groceries or other goods. Once it’s used it can never be used again and your home maintains security. Plus, you can further avoid contact between people.

Access for emergency services

If there is unfortunately a need for emergency services to access a home, having a smart lock can help avoid unnecessary damages. Paramedics will break down a door to get to a collapsed individual in time, and afterwards homeowners are left to replace their busted door.

Instead, share a Bluetooth key or a one-time PIN code for anyone that needs to gain access. Bluetooth keys have expiration times, so they won’t be usable forever.

Access for health care workers

Many senior citizens have in-home care or regular visits to assist them with taking care of their household. At any time, providing secure, easy access for health care workers or house cleaning services can be a hassle. With a mechanical lock you can,

  1. Share a physical key

  2. Meet people at the front door

With the technology available today, all that is unnecessary. Let’s say the home cleaning service stops by every Wednesday — you can share a recurring PIN that only works on Wednesdays at the times you specify.

Keep it clean

This is a friendly reminder that locks get dirty too. Whether it’s a touchpad or buttons, locks are a point of contact for germs and bacteria. Keep it clean. And the good news is that if you choose to further protect yourself by wearing gloves, many smart lock touchpads will still work.

It doesn’t end there. In addition to providing security for at-risk populations, smart lock technology can assist those fighting on the front lines: doctors and nurses.

With many makeshift hospitals being made in places like the Javits Convention Center in New York City or Tufts University in Boston, the need for mobile, flexible tools is continuously increasing.

A few months ago, the administrator of a hospital reached out to us with an interesting question — could our locks be used to increase secure access for medicines and essential medical supplies?

We hadn’t thought about it. But they absolutely could.

With standard padlocks, more keys increase the risk of someone gaining unauthorized access. Physical keys get misplaced, but there are many health care workers who need access like, now. Limiting the number of available keys can also result in precious time wasted.

The other option is leaving cabinets unlocked, which leads to obvious problems.

So, yes, generating unique codes for all necessary personnel was the solution this hospital administrator was looking for. She also wanted to be able to see who was unlocking (or forgetting to lock) which cabinets and when. The risk of supplies or medicine getting into the wrong hands was greatly reduced.

As a company that cares about the people using our products, it’s rewarding to hear the new ways that our customers find to use our technology. Your stories are our constant inspiration.