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Access Control

Looking into an Access Control System to manage access to your building?

Access Control Keypad LockYou may have heard of the term “Access Control” before.  But do you know what it means?

Access control is the process of limiting or controlling access or entry. That’s the definition of this term.  However, “Access Control” also refers to any hardware, electronic device or system that accomplishes or implements this control.

The prevalent perception is that access control pertains only to electronic technology such as card readers, keypads, remote control, RFID, biometrics, etc.  However, access control does not have to involve any electronic technology at all.  For example, even a master key system is a form of access control. Remember the definition; access control is a way of controlling access, without the need of additional physical security personnel (e.g., security guards).

Access control systems, or ACSs, manage the entry into all entrances and exits.  ACSs are designed to improve security by restricting entry to only those “authorized” users.  ACSs can also be designed to monitor and record those using the system to ensure compliance.  The main drawback of ACSs is that they will only work if the users trust and adhere to the ACS system.  If the authorized users abuse the system or find it difficult to use and attempt to go around it, (i.e., leaving a door propped open, “sharing” prox cards, etc.), then the ACS will fail.

There are so many different types of access control systems used today.  When designing an access control system, we must work with our physical environment.  The first step involves answering a few questions:

  1. What type of building or location is in need of this ACS? And what level of security is required?  For example, a medical dispensary will have an entirely different set of requirements than a nursing home.
  2. How many openings (entrances and exits) are involved? What type of doors (openings) and hardware are currently installed (if any)? Do we need/want to replace any hardware?  Do we need to do any additional wiring?
  3. How will this system be used? By whom (what type of user)?  And with what frequency (what number of users)?  What is the maximum permissible processing time per user?
  4. Will this ACS be used as an external security system and first line of defense (therefore accessible and open to the public)? Or will this ACS be an internal system and used as a second line of defense?

Remember, it is most important to choose an ACS that fits your physical environment than to choose one that has all the bells and whistles (functions) that you desire.

It is not easy to design an access control system as every application is different.  Therefore it is best to consult with and work with a professional who can guide you through the process of selecting an access control system and implementing it.