Although it can be as simple as a physical door lock, the term door entry system or access control more commonly refers to electronic security systems which control multiple doors or entry points throughout a building. Its purpose is to allow authorised users access whilst restricting access to others, and protecting against unwanted visitors. In simple terms, access control systems control entry (or exit) through nominated doors via a control panel and some form of electric locking facility. These systems can be simple or complex, but the solution should always provide authorised persons easy passage around the building.
Access control systems can also act a valuable management tool by incorporate additional features such as time and attendance functions, integration with payroll systems, car park management and even vending machines.
Points to consider, when planning an access control system:
There are various ways for a permitted user to operate an access control system, as follows:
PIN Code Entry
A basic mechanical or electronic keypad system requires the user to key in a PIN to activate the lock release mechanism via a control unit inside the entrance.
The user has an encoded keycard a bit like a credit card, sometimes worn on a chain around the neck; each entry point will have an associated card reader and by swiping the card, the user gains entry.
The user carries a card or a tag but instead swiping it, they simply present the card or tag up to a reader, which typically will read the card from a distance of about 100mm; this non-contact makes for a faster method of entry.
Smartcards are access cards or tags which also carries additional information which can be used for accessing other building services, such as vending machines.
Using active cards, long range proximity readers can automatically unlock or open a door when the reader detects the card – particularly beneficial in respect of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) as no action is required by the card bearer.
Biometric readers significantly increase the level of security by using unique human characteristics – finger prints or the retina. Unlike cards or tags, these cannot be lost or stolen.
In a building with access control, there are three common ways for visitors to announce their presence:
- A simple door bell system will alert your staff to the fact that someone is waiting outside
- An audio intercom panel will allow a two way conversation between the visitor and a member of your staff and, if appropriate, the door can be remotely released
- A video audio intercom panel will allow your staff to see who is there, as well as speaking to them, before remotely opening the door
- Visitors can then be issued with a card or PIN number which will allow them access to permitted areas.