More than just physical security

If you decide to use an access control system, it’s probably because you want to secure the physical access to your buildings or sites to protect your people, places and possessions. That’s just the start for access control systems though. The right system, used well, can add value in a range of ways. You can use it, and the data it generates, to boost not just security but productivity, creativity and performance.

You can even use access control to help increase happiness and fulfilment. This is really important for us because we believe security isn’t just about technology – it’s about how people live their lives and about helping them make the most of their days.

The basics of access control

Let’s take a step back though and look at the fundamental principles and techniques behind access control systems.

What’s wrong with a key?

Many smaller organisations use mechanical keys to lock their doors. But this method of access control has several flaws and limitations, especially as an organisation gets bigger. Below are just some of the problems presented by using keys.

• People lose keys
If someone loses a key you need to replace the cylinder to make sure the lost key can’t be misused. Once you’ve replaced the cylinder, you need to hand out new keys to everyone else that needs access to that door.

• Keys don’t leave an audit trail
You can’t see if and when someone’s used a key to open a door, so you don’t know who’s entered your building or at what time.

• Keys are difficult to manage
If someone needs access to a wide range of buildings and rooms, they’ll need to carry an inconveniently large number of keys. It can be difficult to remember which key is for which door and it’s a security risk to label them.

An access control system can take away the downsides of using mechanical keys.

It manages:
• Who has access.
• Which doors they have access to.
• What times they can gain access.
• Under which conditions they’re allowed access.

Best of all, an access control system allows you to set these parameters for each individual and you can quickly and easily update them at any time.

Other identifiers for increased security

Although access cards are the most common method for identifying yourself to an access control system, there are other options, including some that offer higher levels of security.

Basically, it comes down to following identification methods:

• Something you have – for example an access card or badge or other identification tag.
• Something you know – like a PIN code or (more often for IT systems) a username and password.
• Something you are – biometric identifiers such as your fingerprint or iris.

Each identification method has pros and cons, so the method to choose depends on the situation.

To increase your security standards, you can combine two different identification methods – for example an access badge and a PIN code. This is called verification; you use the first method to identify yourself and the second to verify that it’s actually you.

Get expert advice tailored to you

The good thing with access control systems is that most of them are very flexible and can often be tailored to your specific needs. Without knowing the details of your situation, it’s impossible to specify which access control type or identification method is best for you. So always contact a professional for detailed advice and guidance to help you get the most out of your access control system.

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