Access control is often considered the first line of defense when it comes to protecting and securing a facility. Whether it's a security guard standing sentry in the lobby, turnstiles with biometric card readers, a locked side door or a barrier gate in the parking garage, controlling the entry...
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Access control is often considered the first line of defense when it comes to protecting and securing a facility. Whether it's a security guard standing sentry in the lobby, turnstiles with biometric card readers, a locked side door or a barrier gate in the parking garage, controlling the entry and exit points in a building can help to maximize the security of a building, its assets and most importantly, its people.
Basic technology often provides the best solutions. Access control also often implies a sophisticated and computer managed multiple-door integrated security system suitable for protecting Fort Knox . More common however is a standalone (i.e. not continuously connected to a host system) access control system which allows authorized individuals to get in and out of a building or an area within the building. Some of the most frequently used devices in this category include key locks, mechanical pushbutton locks and electronic locking systems.
Bridging the gap between the electro-mechanical locks and the Fort Knox-caliber systems are the stand alone card reader entry systems, which secure anywhere from one to ten doors. The card reader entry systems can usually also provide audit trail capability and some integration potential with CCTV and alarm systems. A brief description of each of these technologies, including values and vulnerabilities, s follows:
Keyed locks are the most basic form of access control and may include mortise cylinders, rim cylinders, padlocks, cylindrical lock sets and tubular lock sets. These mechanical devices are used primarily to delay, discourage or deter theft or unauthorized access, and can be installed in virtually any kind of door with a minimum of effort and expense. Problems can arise when the integrity of the locking system is jeopardized through lost keys or lack of accountability in issuing keys and/or determining who has access to which areas.
Keyless Mechanical Locks
A step up from the key lock is the mechanical pushbutton lock which, rather than using a key, requires a person to push a series of numbered buttons to unlock the door. Also known as a cipher lock, this method eliminates the problems with missing keys or having to change locks and the device is easy to use. Changing the code is also a simple procedure and should be done on a frequent basis to avoid general familiarity with the entry code and thereby negating the effectiveness of the lock.
Keyless Electronic Locks
A similar but more reliable and effective method of pushbutton locks is the programmable electronic locking system. Like the mechanical pushbutton lock, this solution is ideal for facilities where there are a limited number of access points, or for situations where control of a specific access point is required, such as a server room or quality control test area. The programmable electronic locking system is a micro-processor based, battery-powered system which relies on an electronic keypad with a series of numbered pushbuttons, or a touch-sensitive pad, connected to the lock release mechanism via a control unit inside the entrance way.
While usually effective as a standalone system, programmable electronic locking systems do not offer audit trails unless individual codes are assigned to each employee. Again, widespread familiarity with entry codes can lessen the effectiveness of the system when used primarily for security purposes.
Standalone Card Reader Systems
Card reader entry systems are probably the most convenient and multi-functional option available for applications with multi-users and a limited number of access points. The intelligent card reader compares the data on the card with pre-programmed data and entry or exit is granted or denied by the actual card reader at the reader location. To open a door, the card is typically inserted into a slot, swiped through a groove or placed in proximity to a sensor. The coded area of the card is then read by the system's reader and if the code is an authorized one, the processor will direct the lock to open.
Standalone systems like the Dortronics EZ-Access help locksmiths grow their access control business one or two doors at a time.