Not too long ago, securing any building meant physical barriers, human security staff, burglar alarms, and bars on windows. These days, thanks to modern access control technologies, we can harness the power of technology and electronics to do the same without physical barriers and personnel.
Access control technologies are an essential piece of the puzzle, whether you’re hoping to secure a private residence, a small business such as a healthcare facility, commercial property, or even a government facility. Here’s what you need to know.
Benefits of Access Control Systems
The most obvious benefit of access control systems is added security, but there are several other benefits of this type of security system that also add value, such as:
• Convenience – Modern access control technologies are largely keyless, and many even work with devices like cell phones, which makes it easier for residents and visitors of buildings and facilities to enter and exit the premises and different areas inside.
• Enhanced control – Programmable access control systems can be set up to only allow entry and egress during certain hours, or to limit access to certain areas to authorized personnel only.
• Accountability and activity logging – Most modern access control technologies not only control who can enter or exit a space, but they also record every access event – so you can review who has been in your building at which times, and even which areas they accessed while there.
• Ease of access – Unlike older security systems where videos, records, and other security-related information are stored on-site, most modern systems are cloud-based, so you can access security information whenever you need to from wherever you are.
Features of an Access Control System and What to Consider When Evaluating Technologies
The first and most important thing you want to consider when choosing and evaluating access control technologies is the manufacturer, their reputation, and their presence in your local area. Ideally, you want to find a reputable manufacturer with a physical presence in your area to get the after-sales service and technical support you need.
Once you’ve narrowed your manufacturer list down to a few good candidates, there are several other factors to consider:
1. Authentication Methods
Modern access control technologies use a variety of user authentication methods, ranging from simple PIN codes and remotes to key cards, key fobs, and even biometric scanning using retina or fingerprint scanning, for example. There are also mobile apps and RFID tags that work with proximity sensors.
Each type of authentication method will require slightly different hardware and software, and many systems have multiple different authentication options available.
2. Access Levels and Granular Security
In most cases where an access control system is installed, there are several distinct types of users, each of which will require various levels of access to different parts of the building or premises.
A good access control system will incorporate granular security options that allow administrators to assign the correct level of access to each individual user, based on their role and responsibilities.
3. Timed Access
Another key feature of modern access control technologies is that they can be programmed to only allow access during certain hours of the day or to allow different users access at various times of the day. They can even be programmed to allow access differently on weekdays and weekends, and on holidays and other non-working times.
4. Audit Trails
Usually, having a security system that includes access control technologies is enough to deter most would-be criminals, but sometimes, even with a high-tech security system, security breaches can still happen. An effective access control system will maintain detailed user logs and reports though, so you always have an audit trail you can trace back to figure out what went wrong, how it happened, and who was responsible.
5. Remote Access Control
With Wi-Fi and the cloud, we can now access security systems from anywhere in the world, provided we have the right credentials to log in, and many access control technologies also allow this functionality.
This not only allows your managers and supervisors to view key security data at any time of the day and night but also makes it possible for administrators to manage more than one site remotely.
Integration is the way of the future for every type of technology out there, and access control technologies are no different.
Access control system integration allows your access control equipment to be connected directly to other security systems including alarms, cameras, intercoms, fire alarms, and more, which allows you to collect and manage all your security data from one comprehensive interface.
7. Duress Codes
Unfortunately, the world we live in is not always as safe as we would like it to be, and sometimes, your staff and employees might be forced to provide access to an area or building against their will.
A comprehensive access control system includes an option for duress codes, which are special codes that can be used during a robbery or hostage situation. They will not alert the intruder that they’ve been used but will trigger an alarm and alert the authorities. This helps to keep anyone in the area as safe as possible while appropriate security action can be taken.
8. Visitor Management
Sometimes you need to provide temporary access to guests, workmen, or someone else, and having an access control system that includes visitor management allows you to do just that.
Whether it’s issuing time-bound access codes to one person or having a special set of visitor remotes or tags, several options allow you to provide access where necessary while still maintaining security. For example, with this feature, you can allow delivery people into low-security areas or provide visiting consultants with access to your offices. This kind of visitor management option makes temporary access convenient for everyone.
9. Biometric Identification
Passwords can be shared, and remote codes can be copied, but when it comes to fingerprints, retina scans, and other biometric identification measures, it’s extremely hard to fool any system.
Biometric identification options on access control technologies are much more secure, but they are often more expensive to install and manage, so they are usually only used for sites requiring the highest possible security. You might also choose to only have this kind of technology in one or two specific areas.
One of the oldest tricks in the book, for anyone trying to provide unauthorized access to someone else, is to pass their credentials, tags, or remotes to someone else before leaving an area. Anti-passback technology uses smart technology to identify this kind of situation and block or record the incident.
Often, these kinds of systems are based on smart timers, which limit the number of times and how frequently a particular key, remote, or tag can be used in a particular space without triggering an alert.
11. Tamper Detection
Anti-tamper systems and tamper detection will trigger an alarm if the system itself is tampered with, which means it’s much harder to disable the system or any features. Sometimes this will be in the form of an audible alarm, but sometimes it might only activate cameras in the area, so you can record and observe who is attempting to bypass your security systems.
Access control technologies can be an investment, and the last thing you want is to find that you’ve outgrown yours just a brief time after you installed it.
To avoid this scenario, look for access control systems that are scalable, meaning they can grow with your business’s security needs. You can usually add more equipment and monitor more areas, without upgrading the central control component of the system. Always ask your access control specialist what the expansion limitations of the system are before you make a choice, so you can plan for future security needs.
13. Emergency Unlock
Even though most access control technologies are designed to keep people from passing through entrances, exits, and areas without authorization, there are situations where emergency evacuation in the shortest possible time is the top priority.
Look for access control technologies and systems that include some kind of emergency unlock option, and that can grant emergency access and egress quickly when needed.
Unique Solutions for Every Security Need
Perhaps the best thing about modern access control technologies and integrated security systems is that they are completely customizable, and you can create a unique system that meets all of your needs, without investing in systems and equipment you don’t need.
When planning an access control system, it’s important to always have an installer visit the premises you want to protect, so that they can view the layout, inspect existing equipment, and ask questions about how you use the space in question. This will allow them to provide you with the best possible combination of technologies and options to get the results you need.
Our experts at Advanced Security Technologies are ready to talk to you today about all your security needs. Contact us today!