Access Control Systems: Everything You Should Know

Access control systems provide,convenient access to persons who are authorized, while restricting access to any unauthorized persons.  For any company, physical security 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 safety and convenience.

When selecting an access control system, make sure it provides convenient access, integrates well with your door hardware or other building automation systems and you can monitor/control remotely who is entering each of your doors. A good access control system should also send you notifications when there is unusual activity e.g. a door is accidentally left open or if a door is being forced open.  These real-time alerts will let your security managers take immediate corrective measures.

Components of access control systems: 

components of access control systemsAccess control systems vary widely in type and complexity – most consist of these basic components:

Access credential:

This is the electronic version of the “key” that you present to the access control system and after verification, unlocks the door.  Gain access through cards, key fobs, smartphone credentials or biometric (finger print, retina) or a combination for additional security.

Card reader:

These are mounted on the wall beside the door. When the credential is presented, it reads the credential and sends a request to the panel to unlock the door.


Some access control systems also have a keypad and require the user to enter a PIN to open the door instead of presenting an access card or keyfob. But PINs are easily transferrable and are not as secure as biometics or mobile apps or other credentials. To increase the security of keypads, multi-factor authentication may be used – it may be combined with one other credential to make entry more secure.

Access Management Dashboard:

This is a portal where your security administrator will set the list of users who will be allowed to enter each door. In a high security area, you may want to only grant access to a few employees. At this portal you can also set parameters under which you want the grant door access to certain employees. For example, you can give the dashboard instructions to not open the door when an employee’s shift ends.

Door locks and hardware and cabling:

Electric door locks may range from electric strikes, maglocks (electromagnetic), electric exit devices etc. The type of door lock is best determined based on the construction of each door. Your installation of door locking mechanism should always comply with your building and fire codes and never prevents employees from freely exiting the building at any time.  Door locks are powered by low voltage cabling that are needs to be planned before installing the access control system.

Access control field Panel:

This is the intelligent controller all the locks, card readers and all access control devices are wired to. When a valid credential is presented at the door reader, the panel receives the request to unlock the door.

Server computer:

This does the “thinking” for the access control system.  The server computer hosts access control software application. It is a dedicated standard computer that acts as the central database and file manager for the access control system. It records access control activities distributes information to and from field panels.  But you may not require a server if you are hosting your access control system in the cloud – we will touch on that in one moment.

Types of access control systems 

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 system. You can choose to host this database locally on a server, in the cloud or a hybrid solution in between.

Types of access control systems

These access control hosting systems vary in the level of involvement you need to have with maintenance of the system. The cloud-based system is fully managed by your service provider and you do not need to worry about updating software, malware protection, backups etc. A server-based access control system is hosted by you and you are responsible for system maintenance. The main advantage is that there are no monthly fees after the installation cost. The hybrid solution is a mix of both systems and depending on the exact structure the cost and flexibility varies. Read details of hosting your access control system.

From lock-and-key to on-premise computers to the cloud, physical access control has progressed significantly over the past decades to help businesses reduce risks while increasing efficiency, scalability, flexibility and convenience. When selecting your service provider, you need to pay attention to your installer’s reputation on quality of equipment and customer service.  Your security system is not a service you want to compromise on.

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By |2020-01-21T20:58:30+00:00November 29th, 2019|Blog|0 Comments

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