Choosing an Access Control System? What You Need To Know

When choosing an access control system, there are key points that need to be considered before you make your final decision. Cost is of course, a major consideration along with the type of security you need and who will be using the system to gain access.

Access control systems very a great deal in their complexity and ease of use. Some involve nothing more than entering a security code on the keypad while others use biometrics to gain access. Allowing your employees or the members of your household to gain access without inadvertently arming the system should be part of the decision-making process. A system that requires too many steps or confusion on the part of the person trying to gain access often results in false alarms or the inability to enter the building. A system that is intuitive and easy-to-use is probably your best bet.

When deciding on the type of access control system that you might need, the size of the premises will come into play. In businesses there are many locations with different levels of access to consider when designing an access control system. Mapping out who should have access to what portions of the business will help determine how many zones and how complex of a system you need. Typically, there are specific areas that require higher security levels with tighter access control. Data centers, safes, or other locations that house sensitive documents or information should have restricted entry for most people. This ensures that sensitive information is not accessed by those not authorized to do so.

Having different levels of access is usually determined and controlled by entries in a centralized database. Access to this database should be limited to only those personnel who would act as administrators for the system. Minimizing access to the database provides tighter security for the entire system. Since the database is integral to the control of the system, administrative functionality should only be granted to a select few.

Most security systems for home use involve the use of the keypad. Although economical, these types of systems are generally not recommended for businesses or organizations with a large number of people needing access. This is because the code required is often shared amongst employees or written down and left in obvious places. With a larger number of people knowing the access code it becomes more difficult to maintain security when employees leave the organization. Bio readers and card readers are a more viable solution for those businesses with a large number of employees.

Biometrics or bio readers use fingerprints, iris scans, or some other physical identification that is unique to each individual. They are very difficult to reproduce and when an associate leaves the organization they are simply removed from the system. Since no other employee has the same physical identity, there is no worry of access being shared with others.

Another option for business owners is a card reader. Each employee is given their own badge which either can be slid through the reader or waived over a proximity reader. The proximity reader does not require as much contact as the regular slide reader. The slide reader works in much the same way that you would swipe a credit card when making a purchase. Using a centralized database, each zone or reader allows access to specific users depending on database entries. Typically, these badges have the employee’s picture on the badge. This is useful for security personnel in identifying employees by matching the employee to the picture on the badge.

For smaller businesses, you could get away with the basic keypad that requires entry of a code for access to the building. This can be an economical and easy-to-use solution for those businesses that have a minimal number of employees. However, it’s always a good idea to change the code when an employee no longer works for the company. This same type of system is also useful for the home.

All access control systems work by releasing a locking mechanism when the badge is swiped, the bio reader recognizes the employee, or the proper code is entered. There are two types of locks that are typically used in access control systems. The first works with an electric strike that releases the lock when access is granted. This particular type of locking mechanism is usually cheaper and is suited for areas that do not require security verification upon exit.

Magnetic locks work best for areas that require security clearance for entering and exiting a secure area. This is done in many businesses where people are searched when leaving. This prevents someone from slipping through the exit with valuable items or sensitive data.

When shopping for an access control system, you need to consider the nature of your business and the sensitivity or value of the data and products that it contains. Understanding your security risks will largely determine the type of system you decide on and what is needed to implement it.