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Steve Dunn CEO at Digital Keys advises people to go touchless and keyless with NB-IoT smartlocks to help stop the spread

kokou adzo



Steve Dunn Digital Keys

First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times? 

Steve Dunn: We’re doing the best we can in these difficult times.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Digital Keys

Steve Dunn: In the 2000s, as an Asset Manager in Local Government, I found myself constantly overwhelmed with the management of access to council’s assets such as community centres, swimming pools, sports stadiums, art galleries, conference centres, and libraries. Being in charge of distributing metal keys to the staff, volunteers, contractors, and community groups to access the properties at any time of the day and night was time-consuming, expensive, and an ongoing security nightmare. It was impossible to know who held a metal key to the assets (keys can be cut for a few dollars in a few minutes at hardware stores), and who was letting themselves in at any time. 

I was also living an apartment building at the time with magnetic-stripe keycards, and he found the cards demagnetizing every week, meaning constant lockouts. I soon learnt that it’s common for these mag-stripe keycards to demagnetize when held against a mobile phone and other magnetized cards such as credit cards. I thought there had to be a better way to manage access to assets, other than metal keys and mag-stripe keycards. And so we began Digital Keys to address these problems.

How does Digital Keys innovate? 

Steve Dunn: We’re always looking for the opportunity to innovate. The year 2016 was a game-changing one for Digital Keys. It was then that the founders recognized NB IoT’s technology potential to ensure the security and reliability of access control systems that connect to the internet. This was a breaking point in answering the question, “How do you make sure that a lock can connect to the internet without being tampered with, and without any onsite network infrastructure”. 

In 2017 and 2018, the Digital Keys team built an NB IoT smart access control system for the purpose of bringing the most secure, the most reliable, and the most affordable system to the physical security industry. The solution got significant traction in the UK, where it was awarded an R&D grant from the European Commission. The usability of the technology was recognized in other verticals and industries as well. 

Digital Keys then developed a complete end-to-end smart access solution including an NB IoT platform, API’s, digital keys apps, digital keys management software, and NB IoT smart locks. The NB IoT platform and API’s means many more products/services can easily be made smart and safely connect to the internet. In early 2019, Digital Keys launched their first commercial ready NB IoT smart access product into the EU marketplace, and they have already sold thousands of units to construction companies, offices, sporting clubs, banks, hotels, and security companies across Europe. 

How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business, and how are you coping?

Steve Dunn: We’re receiving more enquiries than ever for our products. We think now that more people are working from home, they have more time to get online and explore and research different solutions and technologies available in the marketplace.  

We want to play a part in the fight against COVID-19, and so we’ve been building a new ‘touchless’ and ‘keyless’ smartlock for people’s homes. According to the CDC/NIH, the coronavirus and other germs can live on locks and other stainless steel surfaces for up to 3 days, and transmitted by people touching the infected surfaces. With our new Narrowband Smartlock, you can say goodbye to touching door handles and metal keys and help stop the spread of coronavirus.

See more info here

Did you have to make Difficult Choices and what are the Lessons Learned?

Steve Dunn: The choices we made was ‘can we play a part in this fight, and try and do something to help, or do we just sit back and do nothing?’

How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you project yourself and Digital Keys in the Future?

Steve Dunn: Meditation.

We will continue to project ourselves as innovative and trying to solve real-world problems, including helping stop the spread of coronavirus, security problems, access management problems, and the last mile problem (being able to receive in-home deliveries with digital keys)

Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?

Steve Dunn: August smartlock, Assa Abloy and Salto Systems 

Your Final Thoughts

Steve Dunn: The last 30 years were mostly about connecting humans – now we have around 3.5 billion humans connected to the internet with smartphones. The next 30 years will be mostly about connecting machines – by 2050, they’re projecting 35-100 billion machines will be connected. By connecting machines we can improve our quality of life, improve security, health, and safety, and help save the environment.

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Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at

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