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Access Control Systems: Overview
and Key Benefits

Access Control Systems: Overview and Key Benefits

Access control systems play a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and security of businesses. It’s a modern-day necessity for banks, factories, office premises, retail outlets, and shared properties that have to manage the ability to enter or exit specific areas. Access control systems based on biometric and non-biometric authentication are here to aid in managing physical security risks. Picking the right system is crucial. However, there is a wide array of options available, which can make the choice overwhelming. Let’s get a better understanding of how access control systems work and how you can use them to protect your organization.

What is an Access Control System?

An access control system is an electronic physical security tool that controls entry and exit points of a building. It allows the physical security team to monitor and track movement in a particular zone. Typically, it consists of an access controller, a reader or a keypad, and the door contact. Other mechanisms can also be used depending on the deployed type of system.

The access controller is responsible for analyzing inputs received from the reader, the keypad or a camera to either grant a person access or deny it. It also monitors and records the movement of the door contact and sends the information to the back end. Besides controlling movement, these systems can also be integrated with AI solutions to watchlist, whitelist, or track the movement of particular individuals at your premises.

Types of Access Control Systems

The most appropriate way to classify access control systems is based on the level of control and authentication type.

When it comes to authentication, biometric and non-biometric identifiers can be used to keep track of the movement of employees, contractors, and visitors.

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Non-Biometric Access Control Systems are designed to authenticate individuals using non-biometric identifiers like access cards, pins, and passwords. It ensures that unauthorized individuals and those whose credentials have been removed can’t access the business premises. However, access cards and other physical authenticators can be stolen and used by other persons. So, relying solely on them can be dangerous.
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Therefore, they are now being replaced by Biometric Access Control Systems which make use of unique biometric modalities such as fingerprint, iris, and face recognition.
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Hybrid Access Control Systems are also used by different organizations and require verification through both biometric and non-biometric authenticators.

As for the level of control, access control systems come in two types:

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With Discretionary Access Control Solution, a business owner or the physical security team are responsible for keeping track of everyone coming in or leaving the facility. They can also restrict movement in specific zones, which is mandatory for some businesses according to Homeland Security’s safety rules. However, the human factor can put the safety of the facility at risk as admission can be granted to restricted individuals for somebody’s gain.
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Managed Access Control Solutions are far more secure than discretionary systems because the owners or the physical security team cannot easily define who gets to come in or go out. They can only add entrants to a particular list (classify them) and provide them with labels. Thus, these systems are suitable to be used in highly restrictive zones such as defense training units which have a heightened need for data classification and confidentiality.

Why Should Businesses Use Access Control Systems?

Before electronic access management systems evolved, business owners relied on lock and key to restrict movement but that had its downsides. Since keys could be lost or stolen, there had to be a more reliable physical security solution. One that lets users block access and also leaves an audit trail just in case further investigation is required.

Businesses of all types need to follow guidelines laid down to regulate their business operations. Compliance with these requires restricting entry only to those who are responsible for the specific business operations. This is where access control systems come in and help business owners minimize risks.

Another security vulnerability is tailgating, which means that an unauthorized person gains access to a building or any protected area, usually by waiting for an authorized user to open the door and pass through while the door is open. Alternatively, a valid user can share their credentials with a friend to use, or the disgruntled employee who was just let go from their job uses their access credentials which can be not disabled for days and sometimes weeks.

In such situations, optimizing physical security at each door is the first line of defense. Gates, man-traps, posted security, or similar things are commonly part of any solution that truly attempts to mitigate tailgating. But tailgating is not only a technological problem, it is the problem of people as it is in human nature to be kind and show courtesy by holding the door open for the person behind them.

Deploying AI-based control systems such as Scylla Access Control Solution and integrating them with face recognition technology can be the way out.

Scylla - Access Control Systems

How to Choose an Access Control System?

Your physical security infrastructure is incomplete without a reliable access control solution that is ideal for your business. It is instrumental in eliminating security risks. Here is the list of the most important features that you must consider while looking for an ideal access control system.

Mode of Authentication

Estimate whether non-biometric authentication suffices your needs. If not, pick an access control system that makes use of unique identifiers, which is by far the most secure way to authenticate a person. Besides, the possibility of an access card being stolen and misused is high. Even though it can be blocked, the window period between the loss and the reporting of the loss can be fatal.

Integration capabilities

Integration between access control and other security systems is a game-changer today. While an access management system is solely designed to keep track and restrict movement, there are, for example, Scylla artificial intelligence-based physical security modules that are robust and can up your security significantly. These smart solutions can make your day-to-day operations hassle-free, but not only that! They also can provide useful data and insights for managers and the Human Resources department.

Allows setting door commands

Your access control system must allow you to set door commands. That will let you automate entry restrictions without physically monitoring the access points. For example, businesses that work in shifts can impose time-based restrictions which allow employees of a particular shift to gain entry during a specific timeframe. Looking for such a system, make sure that while imposing restrictions on others, it provides 24/7 access to business owners.

Classification of Alarms

When you set up a physical security tool as part of your security infrastructure, the goal is to minimize manual intervention and make security monitoring less tedious. You don’t want to be bothered by every anomaly that occurs, especially ones that can be ignored. Therefore, you need a system that distinguishes between various threats and produces alarms according to the level of importance.

Emergency Evacuation

Emergency evacuation preparedness is made mandatory by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and various other government agencies. Therefore, you must look for an access management system that can support all the measures to enable safe and effective emergency evacuation. In case of a temporary power blackout, for instance, such systems ensure that emergency exits remain open, while the doors to the valuable assets are closed. This helps mitigate risks, ensures compliance, and also keeps your employees and visitors safe.

Final Takeaway

Currently, the lock and key culture which still exists in many manufacturing units and offices worldwide is giving way to electronic access control systems that provide quick and convenient access to authorized persons while denying admission to restricted ones. Artificial intelligence-based systems allow to significantly increase the level of security. They also minimize the hassle of monitoring as well as help avoid employee misconduct.

With a wide range of access control systems on offer, it’s important to make an informed choice and pick one that ticks all the boxes, i.e. keeps control over all sensitive areas of your facility effectively to protect staff, property, and company information and can be seamlessly integrated with the existing physical security infrastructure.

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