How to choose an access control system

What is an access control system? 

Generally, “access control system” can refer to anything that can be used to restrict access to restricted areas either in our homes, businesses, or online.  There are multiple types of access control systems. But they all share the core ability to authenticate a person before giving them access to private areas or information.  Initially, access control protected physical documents or spaces in actual buildings. Now, however, the idea of access control has expanded to include cloud-based systems. Virtual access control systems limit connections to computer networks and data. The most basic example of which are passwords and pin codes. Physical access control, however, is a means to control who and when a person can enter an area through such methods as ID cards or biometric identification.  For this article, we will focus on physical access control systems. 

What are some common types of access control systems?

Physical access control systems typically include locked gates or doors that can be opened only using some identity authentication method. RFID access cards (Radio Frequency Identification), pin codes, face recognition, fingerprints, or smartphones are some of the most common types of systems. 

What are the benefits of access control systems?

An access control system will not only protect employees and the contents of your organization but also provides a method to control and monitor who accesses the premises.  

Easier for employees

Having an access control system allows employees with authorization to access all the areas they need for their job. Using a pin or key card to enter buildings or offices gives individual employees the independence they need to get in and do their job. This flexibility allows the employees to work alternate shifts or non-traditional schedules. 

No need for traditional keys

Using traditional keys can be very cumbersome, especially for multiple employees or larger business complexes with many different doors and gates. An access control system saves time (searching for the right key) and space on a cluttered key ring. Also, keys are easily lost, stolen, or duplicated. Electronic access control significantly reduces these types of security problems. 

Saves money

Having an access control system will save money on locks, locksmiths, and security personnel. Rather than hiring (and paying) a security guard to identify individuals, an access control system allows employers to accurately and securely verify the identity of all those who enter.  In addition to saving money on security guards, control access systems can be integrated with lighting and temperature controls. You can set lights to turn on when people are in a room and shut off when people leave. The same can be done for the temperature of a room, saving money on energy costs. 

Keeps a record of who enters/exits the building

An access control system gives employees data on who enters which building/room and when. Such data is helpful for personnel attendance, fire safety management, and tracking staff on-site should any issues or crimes be reported. 

Protection against criminals

One of the most significant benefits of using an access control system is that unauthorized people can not enter.  Employees and employers can rest assured that only authorized individuals are in the building. An access control system lowers the risk of theft and other unlawful activities.  

Granting Access with an access control system:

 In general, credentials span three categories: 

1. Something You Have (A Key Or Card or your cellphone)

Keys and cards are the most obvious and traditional credentials. The downside to keys and cards is that they are not capable of identifying who is holding them, and thus are vulnerable to use by unauthorized people.

2. Something You Know (A Code)

As we experience every time we’re prompted to change our office computer passwords, the downside to codes is that they must be changed often in order to remain an effective security method. This can be burdensome to staff and other individuals having to memorize the code. Codes can also easily be shared between individuals.

3. Something You Are (Biometrics) 

The purpose of an access control system is to ensure the right person has access to the right place at the right time. While other biometric matching technologies have been used in access control to mitigate this risk for many years, the emergence of facial recognition offers some advantages by allowing a touchless interface and requiring less complex technology, using digital images for enrollment and verification.

How to pick the right access control system:

Choosing an access control system is a vital part of ensuring your organization’s security. When choosing between the various types of systems there are many things to consider. For instance, organization size, resource needs, and employee locations should inform your decision.  As technology continues to advance, there will be even more options in access control systems. We can help you determine the best type of access control system for your organization to ensure seamless control of every entry point throughout your building.