What is Access Control?

 In Access Control

“Access Control” is a fairly vast term. Hearing it for the first time, it would be hard to know what it even refers to. There are two types of access control as it pertains to the technology and IT world. We will be covering most of what you need to know about physical access control.

Logical Access Control is a solution that protects your files and data on your organizations computers. Restricting access for certain users and controlling the privilege settings of your data.

Physical Access Control is the ability to actually control doors, elevators, gates and more. It allows business owners to keep track of who entered their buildings, at what time. It also provides the added security, that only people that are actually authorized will enter the premises. There are many different ways to create an access controlled environment, some of which we will be listing here:

What is required for Access Control?

The first requirement for any access control solution would be a door, gate, elevator, overhead door or any other access device that needs to be controlled. Whether there are 1000s of doors, or  just 1 door, there is a solution for any size of building or solution. When considering an access control solution, not all doors will have to be secured either. If you want to create a secured area within the building but aren’t worried about the other parts of the building, then the solution can be customized to you needs.

The requirements are fairly straight forward beyond that point. A card reader or biometric reader is needed, something that will authenticate the person trying to gain access. Beyond that a lock is needed. There are a few different types of locks, or operators for overhead doors and gates. There are electromagnetic locks, which hold the door closed with a large magnet. The other option is a door strike, which is most often used. It has a little latch that holds the door closed until electricity is applied to the latch. Operators for gates and overhead doors are simply motors that respond to the signal and then open the gate or overhead door.

The last few things that are needed are a Request to Exit device and a control panel. The Request to Exit device is nothing more than a trigger that allows people to exit. It essentially releases the lock from the inside, without the need of a card reader. They also come in a few different forms. There are buttons and motion detectors. In busy buildings motion sensors are usually used because no input from anyone is required to leave the building. Buttons are used in a few different cases, such as a door that you never use, or an area that people always move through, but you don’t want the door to unlock every time something moves in the area. These are all design factors, which is the reason why access control needs to be designed properly from the ground up. A swipe-in swipe-out solution can also be integrated, meaning that instead of a Request to Exit device, there is another card reader. The person trying to gain access needs to swipe their card to enter through the door and also exit through the door.

The control panel is the main unit that holds all the credentials of the users. It also logs all the events, such as “Bob opened the entrance door”. These logs will come in handy if you need to know who accessed your building, at what time and where. If you have a camera system installed, the access and camera system can integrate to make it a visual security experience. The control panel is also the part that allows for people to access the building. Once a reader scans a card, the panel gets a notice that a certain card has been swiped. If it is an authorized card the control panel will then unlock the door. There are many different control panels out there, but we can help you find the right one.

Elevators can also be protected with an access control solution. Elevators are the heart of your buildings access system and as such are important to be protected. Elevators are especially crucial to have proper access control levels set for the users. This allows certain users access to certain floors at certain times. Unauthorized persons will not be able to access the elevators at all. Implementing an access control system for elevators does not add any further hassle to using the elevator within the building and is extremely easy to use. This is why elevator access control is as effective as it is.

Access Control Levels

Access control levels are the privilege controls with the systems. If you have an entire building with dozens of doors secured by an access control solution, you can go one step further and restrict access through those doors to certain users. Just as mentioned with the elevators, access control levels can be designed for certain employee groups, set to be effective at certain times and more. If you have an elevator serving 5 floors, you may have your IT rooms on the 3rd floor. In this case you would set the accounting departments access levels to be effective from 8am to 5pm and to allow access to every floor other than the third floor during that time. Outside of these hours, you know that these employees will not need access to any other floor beyond the accounting departments floor. With these levels set properly, your employees will be restricted to the areas you want them to have access to, while you gain back control over your buildings security.

How user friendly is it?

Access control, depending on the control panel can be a very user friendly interface. Most control panels intuitively put all control into the hands of the user via a web interface and app, allowing you to access the system from anywhere with your smartphone or laptop. Doors can be unlocked or locked, the status of a door, whether opened or closed can be read. Beyond that, credentials can also be changed and viewed. The interface allows you to check into the access logs, of who entered when. Credential management on the fly comes in handy when someone has been let go, quit or was fired. With access control it doesn’t matter as much anymore if an employee will return their key to you. Their key card will just be deactivated, right from your phone or laptop, and they no longer have access to the building. It not only saves you from having to rekey the entire building, but also protects you from harm, in case of a disgruntled employee situation.

The employee facing side of the access control is extremely user friendly as well. With a standard card reader the employee only has to present their card and they will be granted access to the area, if set within their privileges. If they are denied access, the system will give them feedback by flashing a red LED instead of a green LED and will beep. For more sophisticated input devices, such as biometric readers, the principle is the exact same, but this time the user has to present their fingerprint or position their eyes to be scanned accordingly. The system will again provide the end user with feedback on whether their credentials were accepted.

Both sides of access control work together, so your front desk can have a screen that provides them with all current access control events. If a person is denied access it will show the message and provide reasoning for the denial. This allows your reception desk to handle support requests on the fly by searching through the access events. By monitoring the access to your building the receptionist will also be informed of doors being forced open, allowing them to respond properly to these critical events.

How long does an install take?

The answer to that doesn’t exactly exist. Access control can be a very complex system, and depending on the layout of the building, it may take a few hours or a few days. It all depends on how many doors there are, how far the doors are from the networking room, which houses the control panel. Depending on the door type, there might also be more work required, than with a simple steel door.

Why would I use Access Control?

Access control does more than just provide you with a more secure system. Consider the following example: An intruder gains access to your building through a window. There is no alarm system or access control system in place, so the intruder has access to every room in the building. The break in is only discovered the next morning when the first employee comes back to the site. The police is called, you are however told that it was simply a random act of violence. Since no one has witnessed the break in, and the building is seemingly unharmed other than the broken glass this may be the truth. But since the intruder has access to every single room, they could have logged into any of your computers, stolen confidential data. Furthermore if it was a manufacturing plant, the intruder could have replicated any confidential manufacturing plans. Keeping your corporate secrets secure, regardless of the size of your organization, is absolutely essential. With an access control solution you can protect your building even further. Should an intruder break in through the window as above, the would not have anywhere else to go as every other door they would have to go through is secured by access control. In this case the installation of an alarm system would also hinder them from trying to pry any of the protected doors open. Doors that are secured with access control locking mechanisms are much harder to pry open than a normally locked door.

Get in touch

Did we catch your interest? Give us a call at 1(844) 230-2730 or email us at [email protected]. We would be more than happy to answer any questions, and get you a free estimate. Access control is much more affordable than you might think. See our offerings here.

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Some security systems may not be as secure as they could be due to installation mistakes and options that may have been overlooked.