Access Control Systems Components – Parts of Access Control Systems

Apr 30, 2023 | Access Control

Reading Time: About 8 minutes

Why Access Control – Benefits?

Access controls help to limit or restrict access to discreet information and information processing systems. When the correct components are used, they reduce the risk of information being obtained without due authorization and avoiding the risk of data breach.

The benefits shine when we consider a few of the locations where access control systems are installed. [1]

Elevator access control

Elevator access control involves adjusting who can call your building’s elevators or gain access to certain floors within your building. This control system is made up of hardware and software that utilizes the elevators within a building and gives access permission to specific floors.

These are the three main types of elevator access control:

  • Single elevator access control 
  • Elevator banks
  • Smart elevators

Benefits of enabling elevator access control

  • Easy visitor management
  • Robust building security
  • Integrations with other access control systems
  • Prevents overcrowded elevator cabs

Office doors

Door access control system manages and controls the access of individuals and users within a building. Access control systems vary from normal electronic keypads to intricate linked systems that help keep track and manage  access to several buildings. These systems make facility management easy by removing the need to replace lost keys.

Benefits of a Office Door Access Control System

A door access control system offers lots of benefits for businesses and organizations irrespective of size. By putting into action an all inclusive access control solution, you can notably improve your security and simplify facility management. Here are some of the many benefits of a door access control system:

  • Improved Security
  • Customizable Access Levels
  • Time and Location-Based Restrictions
  • Elimination of Physical Keys
  • Audit Trails and Reporting
  • Integration with Other Security Systems
  • Increased Convenience
  • Scalability

Turnstiles

Turnstile access control is the use of turnstiles and gates to manage and control movement in and out of an area. A security turnstile gate, like a full height or waist-high tripod turnstile, controls and manages access into a building or facility by allowing only one person to pass through its barriers at a time. Furthermore, turnstile access control systems can be programmed or controlled by card readers and advanced biometric scanners so that different parameters can be set to know who has access to an area and when giving room for an autonomous operation.

Turnstile Benefits

  • Enhanced Security
  • Visual Deterrent
  • Efficient Throughput
  • Minimized Expenses
  • Increased Analysis

How Access Control Systems Work

Access control systems work by recognizing or identifying users and individuals through unique PIN numbers, usernames, passwords, and other forms of identification. It is the control system that controls the amount of entry that will be permitted to the employee or user based on the credentials programmed into the system under their particular identifier. Once the authentication procedure is complete, the system may allow or deny access to enter a specific area. [2]

 

Access control systems are used in many industries where security is of utmost importance, including government buildings and private businesses. Basic access control systems can be as simple as a keypad entry system, while more advanced access control systems provide features such as authentication, authorization, and logging of system usage as well as support for multiple users with different levels of access. Additionally, advanced access control systems can also be integrated with other security systems such as CCTV surveillance or door alarms to further enhance the level of security in a facility.

 

Access control systems are designed to protect an organization’s assets by ensuring that only authorized users are granted access to sensitive areas or systems. Access control systems can be used to restrict access based on certain criteria such as time, location, user identity and other parameters. By using these features, an organization can ensure that only the right people have access to restricted areas and that their activity is monitored effectively.

Let us review the various components of an access control system. [3]

The Components of An Access Control System

Access Cards

In an access control system, keys may be replaced by access cards. The access cards with their own unique code are scanned to gain access into the building or certain areas of the building allowing you to control access for each individual. Access cards are small and portable in size just like credit cards.

Card Readers

Where there are access cards, card readers need to be installed. The underlying technology of card readers makes them to be categorized as wireless proximity readers, NFC readers, RFID readers and standalone proximity readers, 

The card reader reads the access cards in order to grant access.  Card readers are generally placed on the door or next to the door that they control.

Wireless proximity readers

Wireless proximity readers are powered by a battery to remove the need to wire back to a control panel. They are mostly  used for large distributions in hotels and apartment complexes.

NFC and RFID Readers

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), a contactless one-way communication method at differing distances. An RFID reader generates an electromagnetic field and reads the data stored in tags or cards placed at a range of up to several meters.

NFC (Near Field Communication) is similar to RFID but typically has shorter read/write ranges, from centimeters to a few inches. NFC readers work mostly for interactions with smart devices. NFC gives room for two-way communication and action by the user is required.

Standalone Proximity Readers

Standalone Proximity Reader is a simplified solution that grants you access to control a single door. This type of reader works by using a card or tag to grant access to a door. The user would need to present the credential, such as an RFID card, in order for the reader to receive and decode a signal. Standalone Proximity Readers also offer additional security features including PIN entry or biometric authentication.

Access Control Keypads

Instead of scanning an access card, with an access control keypad you will have to punch in a code on a numeric keypad. In order to gain access, the correct passcode must be entered. For enhanced and extra layered security, a door can have both a card reader and a keypad, requiring both an access card and a correct passcode in order to gain access.

Electric Lock Hardware

The electric lock hardware is responsible for locking and unlocking doors. Electric lock hardware will electronically unlock your door after an access card swipe or keypad code entry, and electronically lock the door again when it closes. Electric lock hardware makes sure that doors can be  opened freely whenever someone wishes to leave in order to comply with building and fire safety codes.

Electromagnetic Locks

Electronic door locks most times are used to either to replace traditional key and lock systems or to add additional locking automation for enhanced security. One type of electric lock hardware is the electromagnetic locks. These are made up of an electromagnet and a corresponding armature plate that fits over it. When the power to the door lock is on, the magnet creates a strong bond between itself and the armature plate, locking it into place until de-energized or released by an access control system. Electromagnetic locks are commonly used in areas where high security is necessary, such as banks and prisons and these locks can be configured to only open when an access card is presented or other type of authentication occurs.

Electric Strikes

An electric strike is another type of electronic door lock which works together with a rim latch to secure a door. It is made up of an electrically operated latch, which holds the door shut when power is applied to it and releases when power ceases. Electric strikes are commonly found in commercial applications such as access control systems, allowing users to open doors only when they present their access card or other type of authentication. They can also be used with intercom systems, allowing a person inside to verify the identity of someone outside before releasing them from the door. Electric strikes also come with a variety of customization options and can be installed in a wide range of door types.

Access Controllers or Control Panel

Access control panels are installed in each building that requires access control.  Access control activity at the building level is processed by access controllers. The number of access control panels given in each building is equivalent to the number of doors to be controlled. 

 

The control panel or controller is the main core of your access control system. All your readers are linked directly to the control panel tied to a server for credential lookup. If the credentials match, the controller sends a  signal to the door to unlock. Because all door controllers align with the credentials protocol, any door controller can understand any reader.

Alarm Systems

Alarm systems are often integrated with access control. If an unofficial user tries to gain access to the doors controlled by electric lock hardware, your access control system can trigger the alarm alert system. In the case of an emergency situation like a fire outbreak, in addition to sounding an alarm, your access control system can turn off locks  that might obstruct quick and easy exit from a building for the time being.

Access Control Software

An access control software is the sole intellect of the total system. The brain of the entire system is the access control software. It is the central database and file manager for the system. It records system activity and gives out information to and from the field panels in the building. 

Remote mobile doorbell intercom: Video Intercoms

Whether it’s for support or additional identity verification for extra layered security, you can also install a video intercom system to help the receiving party to speak to and view the person trying to gain access into the area. 

Power Supplies

Your access control system should be properly linked and draw power from your main power supply system. Also, you should take steps to prevent tampering.  To do this, you must make sure that the power supply units are enclosed in a secure or locked cabinet.

Backup Power Supply and Batteries

It’s also important to have a backup power system for your access control system. This will ensure that your security systems can be active and running even when the main power is down for any reason. Backup batteries are needed in case your main supply unit fails; the batteries will keep your security system active until your main system comes back online. 

Cables and Wires

Your system’s cabling is a fundamental component as its function is to send signal to the door to lock or unlock. Even for a wireless system, there will still be cables and wires running from the system to the access control reader. Make sure that all your cabling is properly installed and labeled, so you can quickly identify which cable is for which part of the system. Cable labeling is an important part of this process, since it helps you to easily organize and differentiate between different cables, connectors and components. With clear labels on each cable, you can quickly identify which cable is for which part of the system.

Summary

You can see that there are many moving parts to a robust access control system. Ensuring components remain in good working condition requires a systematic approach. You should regularly inspect your system, develop a preventive maintenance plan, conduct tests and audits, design replacement plans and create an emergency backup plan. By routinely performing these tasks, you can ensure that your access control system is running smoothly and efficiently.

Developing an effective access control system isn’t easy, but it can be made simpler by utilizing the right tools and resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are typical access control systems?

Typical access control systems include Discretionary Access Control (DAC), Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), and Mandatory Access Control (MAC). We discuss these access control models in this article.

What makes a good access control system?

A good access control system should be designed with user convenience and security in mind. It should also be easy to use, provide granular access rights, and maintain a secure audit trail of all activities. Additionally, it should have robust tools for managing users, groups, permissions, and resources. Finally, an effective access control system should be regularly updated to account for changes in technology and organizational needs.

How do I set up an access control system?

To set up an access control system, you should start by identifying the resources and assets that require protection. Next, determine which users or groups need access to them and define the appropriate permissions for each. Once you have done this, select a suitable access control model such as Discretionary Access Control (DAC) or Mandatory Access Control (MAC. The next step will be to select a suitable access control system and configure it according to the requirements. You should also ensure that the system is regularly updated to account for changes in technology or organizational needs. Finally, develop a comprehensive security policy with detailed guidelines for managing user accounts and resources. This will help ensure that your access control system remains secure and effective.

 

References

  1. What Is Access Control and Why Do You Need It? https://www.makeuseof.com/what-is-access-control-and-why-do-you-need-it/ 
  2. Access control – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Access_control 
  3. What are the Components of an Access Control System? https://inbound.usisecurity.com/blog/what-are-the-components-of-an-access-control-system