Security is a primary focus for all businesses, regardless of size. Those who work with valuable equipment and sensitive information must protect their assets at all costs. Whether it is in a sole proprietorship or a Fortune 500 company, control systems allow employees to do their jobs while preventing unauthorized access.

Access control systems, such as those from Genetec, help business owners save money, secure their assets, and make employees’ jobs easier. Read on to discover the benefits, disadvantages, and basics of access control systems.

What Are Access Control Systems and How Are They Used?

An access control system is defined as one that restricts or allows access to rooms, buildings, and designated areas. These electronic security systems physically manage access to locations at predetermined times.

Employees who wish to enter access-controlled locations present their credentials, which may be digital or physical. Information is sent to a control unit, which grants permission and unlocks a gate or door.

Access control systems are managed via dashboards or portals, which allow IT administrators, security personnel, and office managers to decide who can access certain areas and the conditions under which access is given. Users can create rule sets based on shift timing, job title, seniority, and more. Most access control systems include physical components, such as key card readers.

Access Control System Components

Modern access control systems consist of several parts, including:

  • Most systems have one of two types of locks: fail-safe or fail-secure. While a fail-safe lock is a crucial part of a fire escape route, fail-secure locks are used in areas where power outage protection is essential.
  • Access control panels.These panels are typically set up in secure locations like electrical closets and IT rooms. When a user’s credentials are received, the control panel authorizes them and grants access.
  • Access control servers store system permissions and data, unlock doors for users, and track entrances and exits. Servers may exist on the cloud, in a card reader, or on a dedicated machine.

While every access control system is unique, most have these parts in common. With servers, control panels, and locks, users can protect their assets and prevent unauthorized access.

Where Access Control Systems Are Used

Access control systems simplify security in several ways. In leased spaces, for instance, landlords control building-wide access and tenants manage access to specific areas. These systems are used in many industries, such as:

  • Companies in the healthcare sector rely on access controls for HIPAA compliance. Insurers, hospitals, and physician’s offices use access control systems to protect patients’ sensitive information.
  • Federal, state, and local governments.Security is a top priority at every level of government. Buildings are under strict security regulations, which typically include limited access. Control systems verify employees’ credentials and restrict access to confidential information, departments, and more while allowing the public to access other areas.
  • Any company accepting and processing card data must meet PCI requirements. These systems limit access to servers and IT rooms, monitoring users’ access to data and protecting vital information.
  • Schools, particularly large college campuses, have unique security needs. Physical and electronic access control systems make entry management simple by keeping students out of faculty-only areas, unauthorized visitors out of classrooms, and more. In equipment storage areas, access control systems may be programmed to ensure that only registered users can get into these areas.
  • Places of worship are known to welcome all—which makes it difficult to strike a balance between accessibility and security. Access control systems make it easier by keeping the doors open during religious services and locked at all other times. Temples, synagogues, mosques, and cathedrals can track visitors’ and employees’ entrances and exits.

Whether installed in a church, a hospital, a school, or a factory, access control systems keep buildings secure while maintaining a sense of openness.

System Options

Access monitoring systems may be housed on local or cloud servers and controlled by mobile devices, card readers, or keypads. When setting permissions, users have three access control choices:

  • Role-based access. Here, every user in a particular role has equal access. For instance, in medical labs, researchers can access chemical storage, while managers cannot. Role-based access control systems grant permission based on privilege level, so employees at various seniority levels have the minimum access needed to complete tasks.
  • Discretionary access.In this control model, the property owner decides who can access each area. Every card reader or keypad has an authorized user list, which can be edited at any time.

Mandatory access. This is the most restrictive access control level. Here, software, hardware, or policy components prohibit access without offering exceptions. Mandatory access controls work for organizations where security heads set access rules, and they enforce standardized policies across locations. Whether run locally or on a cloud server, role-based, discretionary, and mandatory access control systems balance security with employees’ and visitors’ needs.

The Many Benefits of Access Controls

No matter a company’s sector or size, access control systems protect employees and help managers monitor entrances and exits. The primary benefits of access control systems include:

  • Easier access for workers. Access controls allow owners and administrators to set and maintain access protocols in every area. By scanning a keycard or inputting a PIN, an employee can go wherever they need to go.
  • The elimination of keys.While useful, conventional keys have a few limitations. Restriction of access to certain areas means carrying individual keys—and the bigger the building, the more keys will be needed. For cleaning team members and high-level staff, an access control system will save time and frustration.
  • Saving money and effort.With an access control system, a building owner will save money on security personnel and locks.

In providing these benefits, access control systems let trusted visitors in and keep everyone else out.

Access Control Systems Make a Difference

As part of a comprehensive security suite, access control systems meet business owners’ needs every day. With help from our experts, any owner can find the access management tools and advice they seek.