All You Need To Know About Access Control Systems

Does your organisation strive for secure premises?

Security is an aspect of business that more and more people are taking seriously and access control systems – with digital capabilities – are fundamental to minimising risk.

Thoughtful security protocols can create restricted areas and protect people, property and assets. Physical barriers can prevent people from unknowingly wandering into sensitive environments or spaces with hazardous materials and equipment and organisations can protect themselves from vandalism, theft and trespassing with access control being especially useful in facilities that require higher levels of security.

Unfortunately, for many small businesses, security is an afterthought. But, as companies grow, the stakes get even higher. They will likely consider improved security, conduct security audits and form a plan. Part of the plan could be determining what physical security access to use.

What is physical access control?

In essence, access control creates physical barriers that prevent unauthorised people from entering your workplace, or the secure spaces within your facility. Access control is the backbone of enforcing physical access security. It is a system of physical barriers that work in combination with authority barriers and authorisation plans – allowing the appropriate people in and keeping everyone else out.

Physical security access control systems

Physical access is often controlled via a physical control system –

For example:

Software and hardware that work in combination with electronic door locks. These systems will determine who has access to what (rooms, equipment, vaults etc.) They contain a database of various access levels and will control the locking mechanisms on doors and other entry points.

Over time, security access has moved away from keys and access cards and tags to network-based solutions. Modern access control is now managed in the cloud. The beauty of network-based access control systems versus actual keys that work in locks is the ability to assign different access levels to different locks. They can also be turned off at a moment’s notice. If a physical key (card or tag) is lost or stolen, it leaves the premises at the risk and the changing of locks, cards and tags can be disruptive and expensive. The digital capabilities of access control systems are safer, provide data and provide a much more efficient solution.

The following are the main components of a physical access control system:

  • Access point: This is the entry point where a barrier is needed. Common physical access control examples include security gates, turnstiles and door locks.
  • Personal credentials: Most access control systems require a user to have identifying credentials to enter a facility. Personal credentials tell the system who has certain levels of authorisation.
  • Keypads and Biometric Readers: If using a keypad or biometric reader (e.g. fingerprint scan, facial ID, or retina scan), users may be required to enter their PIN or complete a scan before obtaining access.
  • Control panel: Credential data from the reader validates the individual and the control server will unlock the door. If the credential data is not approved, entry will not be gained.
  • Access control server: The access control server (which may be on-premises or in the cloud) stores user data, access privileges, and/or audit logs.

What is an IP security system?

An Internet protocol camera (also known as an IP camera), is a type of digital security camera that receives and sends video footage via an IP network. These are commonly used for surveillance. Analog closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) require a local recording device whilst IP cameras only need a local network.

Should I get a traditional system or an IP system?

Key considerations when selecting an access control system are the ease of use, integrations and the ability to scale.

Traditional systems (non-IP network or legacy systems):


– Dependability: These systems have been in use for many years. They work and rarely have trouble.

– Security: Some proprietary systems are less likely to be hacked than IP systems and are thus seen as being more secure.


– Cost: The systems require expensive proprietary hardware and, typically, multiple control boxes. Most control boxes, due to the necessity of being within the proximity of the entrances, can’t control more than a few entrances at a time. It can be necessary to purchase one control box for each entrance, which will increase the costs when installing.

– Installation requirements: Many of these systems require both electricity and system-specific wiring.

– Self-contained: The very nature of how these systems work means that it is difficult to integrate them with other systems and functionality.

What to look for in an access control system:

Choosing an access control system for your organisation will likely include many decision-makers, multiple quotes and much consideration. It is a decision not to be taken lightly.

Certainly, you will want a system that has all the features you need, within your security budget.

Beyond this, perhaps the most important aspect to weigh up, aside from the security level, is the longevity of the hardware and software. Considering the cost of vetting, outlay and installation of all the components, you will be relying on it to deliver for quite some time. You will want to ensure that it is functional for many years to come.

If you are interested in access control for your business, contact us today to see how we can assist you with all your requirements. From access control, to time and attendance to thermal readers, we have the solution for your access needs.


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