An automated access control system that provides effective and efficient control for your business premises can save you time and money. It can also improve your employees’ health and safety as well as on-site security. This can be especially important for manufacturing sites, distribution centres and research facilities.
Information can be easily updated or cancelled when someone leaves or if access devices are lost so you can be sure you are meeting your data protection obligations.
The principles of automated access control and security
Using programmable key cards, personal identification numbers (PINs), key fobs, or mobile apps with your employee’s credentials (their identification and access permissions) access can be managed centrally.
The system will make sure that only authorised members of staff can go into certain areas of your buildings for security or safety reasons. You can also keep track who has passed through each access point to understand your employees’ movements and to check on any suspicious activity.
Automated access control and security systems can also be combined with intruder alarms, fire alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.
Traditional versus online access control and security systems
The traditional approach to access and security uses control panels as hubs for door readers, door locks, cameras and the system's interface, which is usually a PC. The door readers and control panels are connected with power and communication cabling and the number of readers you can have is often limited by the capacity of the control panel. In most cases this approach will mean that you are responsible for managing, administering and maintaining the whole system.
More modern access control and security is delivered by an online or IP (internet protocol) system, which might be hosted locally or in the Cloud. Instead of wired door control panels your readers connect directly to a network, usually through Ethernet or a wireless (Wi-Fi) network, so they are less bulky and easier to install. You will have more flexibility with this approach because you can normally have as many readers as you need.
Your administrator can manage the permissions remotely using an online browser, so this is often a good option for security managers that look after multiple locations. If your system is hosted in the Cloud, you will also benefit from automated updates when they are needed.
Access control and security changes in 2020
Mobile credentials are becoming an integral part of our lives, so it’s only sensible to make use of them for access control systems. For example, in America Apple has introduced contactless student identification (ID) for iPhones and Apple Watches. Students can access parts of the campus and buy meals and products with their mobile devices. With Face ID technology, this approach can securely streamline access control and security systems.
As Windows 7 reaches the end of life, many businesses with locally hosted installations using this operating system will have increased risks, as there won’t be any more fixes or security patches. If this is the case for your business, then an upgrade or replacement system will be something for you to consider this year.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is now being used in access control systems, including features like facial recognition. Use of AI will continue to develop this year to help businesses identify risks, actively monitor buildings and perimeters, diagnose problems, and protect data. Combined with automated alerts your security team will be able to respond more quickly when problems arise.
Ultra-wideband (UWB) isn’t new, but for short-range wireless communication it allows devices to interact. It’s included in the operating system for the latest iPhones and is expected to become useful in access control systems to allow secure hands-free access to entry and exit points.
Automated access control and security - key features
- swiping or inserting a card in a reader
- a proximity card or device that can be recognised within a few inches of a reader
- credentials delivered via a phone app.
Typically, you will be able to see where your employees are and for how long.
For added security an anti-passback system can be installed to make sure that your employees use their credentials when they enter and leave a building or zone. This helps to protect against copied cards, cards being passed to others after opening the door or passcodes falling into the wrong hands.
Administration – your office administrator, head of security, or IT manager will normally have a dashboard to allocate access permissions and to monitor activity. This can be streamlined by connecting the dashboard to your employee directory. When a new employee is added to the system, access can be set automatically using an application programming interface (API) or integration with your security database.
Equipment - card readers are normally wall-mounted next to security door to read user ID information and send a request to local, online or Cloud-based server to unlock the door. Some systems use keypads and personal identification numbers (PINs) or biometrics, facial recognition, or a card that must inserted into a reader. For increased security you can use at least two methods of authentication, known as layered security.
Often installed in an IT, electrical or communications control room, the access control panel will be wired to all your locks if you take a traditional approach.
You might also want perimeter and external gate controls and surveillance. For sites with frequent vehicle traffic, this can include automatic number plate recognition (ANPR).
Automated access control and security - reporting and administration
With a reporting interface you can monitor the movements of your employees between access points in your building. Ideally, your access control software will be integrated with your surveillance cameras so that you have a complete picture of what’s happening around your site and a permanent record in case you need to review an incident or run a security audit.
If you aren’t always on-site then a system that allows remote access for you or your administrators will be important. If you welcome a lot of visitors, you might also need to be able to grant temporary access.
To streamline your processes even further you can integrate your access control with your time and attendance records to see exactly when your employees arrive and leave.