Replacing physical locks and keys with electronic locks to assist homecare personnel

One of the most time-consuming tasks for homecare personnel is to fetch door keys before they visit service recipients at their homes. A number of municipalities in Norway are in the process of acquiring and installing electronic locks in order to eliminate the need for physical keys. But what are the real requirements for e-locks and what are the barriers to introduce e-locks in homecare?

Key box used as of today in homecare.
Key box used as of today in homecare.

These questions were among the issues discussed during a full-day workshop held with representative from nine Norwegian municipalities. During a series of group exercises, our group collected data about experiences, scenarios, involved stakeholders and procurement processes in these municipalities. It turns out that introducing e-locks can be a challenge if not properly planned and executed. The following topics emerged from the discussions, and are documented in a report (in Norwegian) published by our group:

  • E-locks affect a large number of stakeholders. Although homecare personnel are the initiators of the process, installing e-locks will affect the service recipients, their families and friends, others visiting them ,especially emergency personnel such as ambulances, police and firemen. How will these people experience meeting an e-lock on the door? Will they have a physical or digital key to open the door?
  • In order to gain maximum benefit, e-lock software needs to be integrated with existing systems such as administrative software at the municipalities. In this way, homecare personnel can gain automatic access to the house only when they need it, and the system can automatically log the visit. There is a large number of administrative software in use in municipalities. It can be a challenge for an e-lock vendor to integrate with all these systems. Most of these systems are closed and proprietary. Additionally, the e-lock systems needs to be physically installed and maintained, which can be a challenge. In many cases the users live in apartment blocks, have non-standard doors etc.
  • There are big differences among the 400+ municipalities in Norway, from large ones to very small ones. They will have different service models. For instance, some large municipalities already use call centers for telecare. These centers are suited for taking the role of access provider. But smaller municipalities don’t have these centers. They will need to use a distributed internal model–local access right provision–or outsource access provision to an external operator.
  • The process of procurement will be quite varied. A common procurement process will pose a number of challenges because not all municipalities are prepared enough to start a procurement process. We need to decompose the process, and identify the parts that can be standardized and shared among the municipalities.

The report (in Norwegian) will be available for download from this page.

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