The purpose of a physical access control system is to provide quick, convenient access to persons who are authorized, while restricting access to any unauthorized persons. For any company, keeping facility and employees secure is a top priority and a well-designed access control system is one of the most efficient ways to achieve your security objectives. With quality equipment and professional installation, it is easy to use and can give you the right balance between physical security and convenience.
With access control systems, you know who entered your business, when they entered, what door they used and how long they stayed. These systems also include analytics that can proactively send you alerts of suspicious activity. And the right access control system is also a future proof investment. Thanks to the scalability of the hardware components, the system grows according to your security needs. Read on to learn about the different types of access control systems and how to design the right access control system for your security need.
Once you have identified which points you need to control access to, the first step is to decide where you want to host your access control system. Your database, which is where you set door schedules, grant user access, manage doors etc., is the brain behind your access control management system. You can choose to host this database locally on a server, in the cloud or something in between.
Server-based Access Control
The most rudimentary is the software + server-based system where all equipment is installed on multiple servers at your site. In this arrangement you take on the responsibility of keeping software updated, protecting against virus and malware threat, recovery against data loss and malware infection and all kinds of software compatibility issues. The main advantage of this arrangement is that there are no additional fees after the installation cost, except any software update costs. However, there is a higher initial upfront cost for the purchase of local servers and other hardware.
Cloud-based Access Control
At the other end of the spectrum is the cloud-based system where all doors communicate with a central server. A cloud-service is accessible over the web from anywhere. You can monitor live streamed or recorded videos from any device at any time of day. Thus, your security needs can be addressed at real time. There is also no need to worry about backups or upgrades, the service provider takes care of those and other security related issues for a monthly fee. With IPconnected door controllers there is no need to run the management software on a local server. And finally, by having a cloud-based access control system you turn your capital expenses into operational ones.
Hybrid Access Control System
A hybrid solution in between these two is the on-premise cloud system where you still host it on site on a non-windows-based appliance running an app. You will interface with the system through a web browser, which is easier than installing software on user’s computers, but the system does require some IT involvement for final setup. Ports on your network will need to be opened in order to access the system remotely, leaving it vulnerable to cyber-attacks, and you will need to apply updates as they are released. As the system grows it will require further maintenance and attention in order to ensure that it is properly maintained, the controllers don’t lose communication with the appliance, and the data is backed up safely.
Integration with Building Services
Finally, a few more things to keep in mind before you make your decision. Make sure the access control system is compatible with existing door hardware (i.e. your current door hardware is functioning properly and doors are properly closing). Also keep in mind that it needs to be in line with local regulations and safety standards. For example if you have an exit door that you want to secure, you will need to add a maglock. Maglocks will add much higher costs to your system and will require proper permits in order to be installed.
You will also want it to integrate easily with any video surveillance or building automation system you currently have or may want to sign up for in the future. You can also go for a proactive access control system where you can receive alerts real time on your phone when there is any unusual activity e.g. select door is held open for too long. Choosing a user-friendly and simple interface can make your life much easier when interacting with your system.
Security should be the most important factor when determining an access control system. Using outdated technology, cutting corners in installation may end up costing you more in the long run. A professional security service provider will help you design and install a great system. Door readers and physical credentials come in many varieties and it is best to go with a system that includes readers with their own memory and processors as well as credentials that incorporate encryption.
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