Written By: Brad Campbell | November 7, 2022
People that come into contact with the security industry for the first time often aren’t sure how access control systems work nor why they’re often necessary to enhance security. It must be said that access control systems are an important concept to understand and a staple in the security industry.
This guide features information that clarifies everything surrounding access control systems and it will help you understand why they’re an important element of commercial and home security systems.
In simple terms, access control pertains to the ability to limit access in either a physical way or a cyber one. Considering we are in the physical security industry, we will only focus on physical access control.
Physical access control is a term that refers to the process of creating barriers that prevent unauthorized access or entry to certain areas. The most common form of physical access control is the use of door locks and keys. Other access control types include key cards, codes, turnstiles, security gates, fingerprints, and more. Even physically present security personnel is considered as ‘physical access control’.
There are numerous day-to-day uses that access control systems have. For example, turnstiles at concerts manned by staff require tickets in order to allow a person through. The staff is there to prevent any misuse.
Locked employee entrances to high-security offices utilize key cards or fingerprint scanners. Your house door serves as physical access control because it can only be unlocked with the correct key.
In short, access control is a crucial component of any security plan and in most cases, it’s one of the first lines of defense against unauthorized entry. On top of that, access control systems also reduce the flow of people coming into an area which prevents crowds from forming.
Non-public buildings should use access control to mitigate theft, burglary, and more serious threats. In most cases, it is enough to dissuade illegal activity and it also makes residents feel safer.
Here are the facility types that can benefit the most from using access control systems:
Based on the size and type of the facility, it may have a single access control point or many of them. It may also use different types of access control methods (key card access, code access, security checkpoints, etc.).
Let’s take a bank as an example. Usually, a bank will have a security guard at the entrance and in some cases, it may also have an electronically controlled door lock that only the bank clerk or security guard can lock/unlock.
On top of that, they will likely use code/key card/fingerprint locks on highly-sensitive areas such as the bank vault.
In essence, the more access control systems a building uses, the more secure it will be.
If you’re unfamiliar with fenestration security means – don’t worry. It basically refers to security relating to a building’s windows, doors, and various other openings.
And, because access control controls who can enter and exit a facility or building, it goes hand-in-hand with fenestration security. A complete and effective fenestration security plan will always feature access control methods.
On the other hand, it’s very difficult and virtually impossible to have effective access control systems without other physical barries that prevent forced entry. In this case, we’re referring to security glazing that stops potential intruders from breaking your windows or doors to gain access.
As said before, access control systems need to be reinforced with the use of vulnerability strengthening – reinforcing windows and doors with retrofit security glazing (the best of which is polycarbonate glazing).
Polycarbonate glazing is very versatile and can be retrofitted onto virtually any existing framing, typically without removing or replacing existing glass. The type of existing glass doesn’t really matter because polycarbonate glazing’s strength isn’t impacted by the underlying material.
The glazing itself is see-through and feels just like regular glass which means criminals won’t be able to discern it from normal glass. On top of that, polycarbonate glazing doesn’t impact visibility and doesn’t block any natural light.
Combining access control systems with security glazing creates an incredibly strong physical security system that can withstand all forms of threats and attacks. Here’s what this combination can protect against:
A would-be intruder would have an immensely difficult time breaking and entering, especially without specialized burglary tools. Even then, it would take them an incredibly long time to get through, during which the police would have already apprehended them.
It also must be said that combining these systems with video surveillance and alarms would make your property a non-target.
Before you begin making any changes or upgrades, it’s important to execute a threat assessment process that is supposed to help you understand which areas are vulnerable and require extra security measures.
Threat assessments are done in tandem with security experts that do a full walkthrough analysis of your property to determine potential vulnerabilities and provide useful recommendations on how to fix them.
In this context, threat assessment is used to figure out where access control points are needed and where security glazing should be retrofitted onto.
If you’ve been looking for access control systems for your property, then you need to consider a couple of factors in your decision.
First things first – what type of credentials do you want people to use to access and enter your controlled security points? A password? A key card? Most options work well and you generally don’t need to go overboard with something like a fingerprint access point unless the area you want to secure holds something really valuable.
Key cards are a common choice because they aren’t expensive and are versatile enough to be used for most applications. However, it must be said that key cards tend to get lost or wear out fairly quickly so they will need to be replaced on a regular basis. On top of that, a lost key card can end up in the wrong hands which can be a security threat.
Alternatively, you can use mobile access control credentials. These allow people to use their phones to get past the access control point. As with most security systems on a smartphone, this one also has multi-factor authentication built in, preventing misuse. Smartphones are also unlikely to get lost.
One of the more expensive access control options is using manned security personnel. While these cost more, people will always be the biggest criminal deterrent to other people.
Ultimately, it’s all up to you and your capabilities. You’ll also need to be mindful of the management and maintenance that any access control system will require, so be sure to consider these factors when planning your budget.
At RiotGlass, we are determined to provide the most effective, rugged, and strong security glazing products. Contact us today to learn more about our security glazing solutions and what they can do to protect your property from all forms of violent entry attempts.