An Introduction to Physical Access Control
Access control plays a critical role in the safety, security and day-to-day operations of businesses and organizations worldwide. From ensuring permitted entrances into buildings, to physically safeguarding sensitive information, access control systems add a necessary layer of safety for the protection of employees, assets and facilities.
With many options of access control systems on the market, spanning across physical and digital protection of assets, evaluating solutions and their components can quickly become a massive undertaking.
In this blog series, discover the key differences to discover and evaluate the right access control solutions for your organization.
What is Access Control?
At its core, access control is a means of securing something from those that shouldn’t have access to it. If we branch off from the core concept of access control, there are mainly two types of access control solutions: physical and logical.
Physical Access Control: As its name implies, physical access control solutions provide organizations with a means for securing their physical spaces. This can range from managing building access to sensitive areas like an IDF/MDF closet or the building itself. In this form of door access control, users can gain entry with credentialed access, including key cards, fobs and smartphones.
Logical Access Control: With logical access control, organizations are implementing protections for their digital assets. This can include access to programs, databases and other forms of data that need protection from unauthorized visitors.
While the primary focus below is physical access control, there is undoubtedly a growing intersection between them. From role-based access of user management software to integrations with enterprise software for automating rules around credentials, the increasing combination of the two only helps make organizations more safe and secure.
Improving Building Security with Door Access Control
For many organizations, safeguarding office access, school campuses or store location entails designated individuals carrying physical keys. While the traditional method of locking and unlocking doors may seem like a logical choice, this approach actually can lead to higher security risks.
When physical keys are lost, stolen or sometimes not returned by former employees, it is necessary to replace all the locks and existing keys. Otherwise, anyone with that key—or even a copy of it—have complete access to that door without a record of entry. Furthermore, with most of these key-managed doors, the option is either locked or unlocked, requiring someone to take that action physically.
Door access control systems provide teams with an easier way to manage credentialed user access across their buildings while also improving building security. With an access control system, teams provide personal credentials—typically in the form of a key card—to people across their organization. Unlike a physical key, these credentials are unique to the user, meaning it associates any events that take place with their card to their user and makes it possible to revoke access when a credential is lost, stolen or not returned.
Many access control solutions also have a software component, making it possible for teams to manage their organization. This can include creating schedules for specific doors, viewing reports of user or door-based events and even integrating with other physical security solutions like video security.
Evaluating Access Control Solutions
When it comes to choosing an access control system, there are many factors to consider. This can range from how the system is implemented, as well as how users look to manage and access their access control system. Each week, we’ll be covering these crucial topics so organizations can continue to evaluate the best system to meet their organization’s needs.
Card and Reader Formats
In addition to evaluating access control systems, organizations must also consider the types of credentials and building access methods they’ll be using across their physical spaces. Starting with card reader formats like Wiegand and OSDP, extending to the wide range of card formats to choose from, safeguarding your organization often starts with the very credentials users carry.
On-Prem vs. Cloud-Based
The implementation and management of a door access system starts with choosing between an on-premise access control system and a cloud-based solution. The differences between the two factors into how your organization will manage, scale and operate their day-to-day building access.
While building access control systems play a key role in securing physical spaces, most systems traditionally only tell half the story. In addition to knowing door-based events, a system can be more useful when integrated with other physical security systems such as video surveillance. However, the difference between native and third-party video surveillance and access control integrations can lead to very different user experiences.
There are many factors that play a significant (and insignificant) part in determining a door access control system price. Major costs, such as the door access controller hardware and software may make up the majority of your costs, however, there are various other costs associated with things like key card readers, system maintenance, and installation of an access control system plus any associated key fob hardware.
Scalability and User Management
From managing all of your users to doors across multiple locations, understanding your scale needs will help determine the right access control system for your needs. In addition to knowing how many doors and credentialed users you will need for building access, it is also necessary to consider how systems will communicate with one another when managing multiple access control systems or locations.
In addition to the physical security access control provides, it is essential also to evaluate the additional security considerations. This can range from how your door access controllers connect back to the system, as well as selecting the right form of RFID/proximity cards to protect your organization best.
Interested in learning more about how to evaluate your next access control system? Sign up for our webinar, Smart Buildings: Integrating Video Security and Access Control.