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Biometrics the Answer to Gym Locker Security?

February 6, 2017

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When you find the time to go to the gym, the only thing you want to worry about is getting in a good workout. You don’t want to spend your session worrying about the safety of your personal belongings, or where to position that awkward locker key on a wrist band. How could biometrics help?


Serial thefts

Gym goers in New York last month suffered just that problem when 15 lockers were broken into at the New York Sports Clubs (NYSC) gym venues all across Manhattan. Shoes, headphones, credit cards, wallets and laptops were all reportedly stolen, and probably all by the same thief according to the police.

The problem is, finding time for a visit to the gym is quite difficult for many people and it’s not like they can afford to go along without any personal belongings. Often people are going on their way to or from work or school, and they need reliable systems for safeguarding their belongings.

When CBS News talked to Laurence Cruz, a user of the NYSC’s gyms in New York, he said:

“For me personally, I just carry my bag around when I’m working out and stuff, because I’ve had my share of experiences getting my stuff stolen.”

It’s not the most practical system, especially if everyone at the gym did it. Lockers are an expected service for members of a gym and they need to be secure and trustworthy. To be fair to NYSC, it said in a statement:

“We have security cameras located outside the entrance and exit to all locker rooms and we conduct regularly scheduled walk-throughs of locker rooms by staff.”

It’s clearly not enough to deter and stop the criminals however. And gym clubs are a great example of a business that could use biometrics to solve many of its security issues.

A biometric approach

First and foremost, biometrics could be used for member verification and access control at the club. That would ensure only those people who are registered members could gain access to the building and the locker room in the first place. In the case of NYSC – it restrict access using a key tag system; but on the membership policy of its site, the company includes this rule:

“Key tags may not be loaned to another person. Allowing someone else to use your key tag will result in immediate termination of your membership. Unfortunately, one strike and you’re out.”

With a biometric system, that would never be a problem. It’s possible the thief behind these robberies is using an unreported stolen key tag to gain access to all the various sites. With a biometric solution, that simply wouldn’t be possible.

The other way biometrics could help, is by replacing the key mechanism system on the locker doors themselves. No gym could ever afford to install Fort Knox level lockers for every gym goer – but a biometric locker system could at least avoid the exposed locking mechanism system that you get with more traditional lockers. From a user point of view, it’s a lot simpler too, members just need their fingerprint to open and unlock their assigned locker – there is no key to lose or wristband to attach.

We have a lot of sympathy with NYSC and the victims of the crimes – this article is certainly not meant to criticise the club in any way. But the situation it finds itself in does demonstrate the practical advantages of biometric solutions. We believe biometrics help organisations ensure security, without ever compromising customer convenience. In fact, peace of mind security allows the users to focus on what they are really there for: in this case, a good work out.

CBS News: Man Wanted For Breaking Into New York Sports Club Lockers

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