An Access Control system typically includes locked gates, doors or barriers which can be opened using identity authentication methods such RFID access cards, pin codes, face recognition, finger prints or smartphones to allow entry to a building or certain area.
Access Control is a method of security that controls access both physically and virtually unless authentication credentials are provided.
‘Virtual’ Access Control limits connections to computer networks and data, using passwords and pin codes, for example, as a secure method of authorisation.
‘Physical’ Access Control is a means of controlling who and when a person can enter an area, location or building using a secure authentication method such as an ID card or biometric identification, for example, as authorisation.
When referring to a ‘physical’ Access Control system this typically includes locked gates, doors or barriers which can be opened using identity authentication methods such RFID access cards, pin codes, face recognition, finger prints or smartphones to allow entry to a building or certain area. This technology can also provide data to track how a building or site is being used, such as frequency and time-usage trends.
Access Control can help protect employees and contents and control & monitor who accesses the premises. The main benefits of access control systems are:
Reduced risk of theft
You can protect your assets, equipment and supplies using Access Control. Once again you can restrict access so only trusted individuals can access. As employees know arrivals and departures are tracked this also deters theft.
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There are 5 main different types of access control:
Uses people to secure specific access points, for example doormen or stewards. They identify people who want to enter the premises then decide based on predefined criteria whether or not they can enter/have access. This is often used in places such as cinemas, theatres, zoos and theme parks where getting information from people beforehand is difficult and identification isn’t required.
Mechanical technology is used to secure an access point. For example a cylinder lock with a key, this is typically used in homes or garages.
Electronic access control can be used for buildings/sites with advanced security requirements. These types of access require; a card, chip or other fobs with the right credentials. These must be presented to a reader in order for a person to be allowed to pass through. This also keeps record of who has passed through the area/ when.
1. Standalone systems
Used for single access points. Access is allowed or denied on the basis of access permissions locally in the standalone component. These systems are not wired, this means installation requirements are less, this saves time on site and allows for easy retrofitting of components. This is great for sites where access control would traditionally not be possible down to its location or existing site infrastructure. Standalone components can be integrated into larger access control systems using a combination of both online and standalone components. An examples of standalone components include Digital Cylinders, Mechatronic (Electronic and Mechanical combination) Cylinders, and Electronic Door Locks.
2. Online systems
Used for larger sites with high access rates, these systems are wired and connected to the host system’s access control software. You can achieve High-security levels with these systems down to the real-time message exchange between the components and the software. You can also incorporate many other systems into it, such as an alarm system, elevator/lift control, etc.
Using a combination of both electronic and mechanical can offer further security. As an example an electronic system first checks the card/ other media used, after this stage is passed only then can a key be used on the mechanical lock to open the door. This sort access control is used in offices with high-security requirements, private residential buildings, and server rooms.
No matter how high rated a lock or access control system is, if the physical access system can be over looked then it is of little importance. Therefore the physical access system must be addressed and in line with the safety requirements.
Access Control systems are used in various applications such as:
Considerations for specifying the right access control system should include functionality, levels of security, numbers of users, types of users, scale of site and, of course, budget. Another important aspect to consider - apart from the security level of course - will the system work in the future?
Consider the cost of purchasing, installation and maintenance of all the components as this is a system you will be working with for some time. Using a forward-thinking perspective is vital to ensure it will do what you need it to do for years to come.
How easy is it to use? - Is the user interface easy to manage? Will users need training on how to use it or is it straightforward?
What about integration? - Will it integrate with your directory or HR system? Will it integrate with your video surveillance systems and equipment?
Hardware compatibility - Does the system use third-party hardware for example cameras, door locks, etc. or does it require proprietary hardware?
Mobile compatibility - Is there a mobile app? Does it allow authorised users to make changes from anywhere?
What types of authentication? - There are a wide variety of authentication options available for access identification. These include more traditional options such as keypad pin entry or a card/ fob that is swiped or scanned. Or biometric identification such as face recognition, fingerprint & voice recognition and contactless ID from your smartphone via NFC, Bluetooth or QR code are becoming increasingly popular. The most secure of systems ask for two types of credentials – referred to as ‘dual authentication’. Determine which kind of authentication works best for you and how secure you need it to be.
Reporting capabilities - What reports can you generate from the system? Are these reports easy to create?
What’s the scalability of the system? - Is it easy to add more hardware if needed?
Software updates - How will software updates be installed? Is it an automatic process, or requires staff to complete?
Our professional system design team provide a unique system architecture service for installers and integrators to help you deliver the best in door entry and access control technology.
If you would like to discuss your next access control system or would like more information on our full range of security products, please call our team today on T. 0115 9770075 or email us now.