Many business owners wonder, “What are the different types of access control available and what is the best way to protect my facilities?”

It’s a good question – if a bit broad.

Access control, at a glance, restricts access to your business or agency’s physical assets – buildings, rooms, IT, and more. Physical access control is enforced using electronic systems that rely on user credentials, card readers, and auditing and reporting tools to track employee and visitor access to restricted areas.

Traditional, affordable key-based systems have long been used to secure physical spaces, doors, cabinets, and entry points, but lack the flexibility and scalability required for modern security needs. Beyond these simple solutions, there are multiple access control systems available for use by commercial and industrial businesses, government agencies, and other facilities.

  • The move to mobile: Almost 85% of today’s global population own and use smartphones, making the move to mobile credentials a no-brainer for so many applications. Perhaps the most popular and effective methods used in today’s ever-changing world, mobile credentials are a functionality of physical access control that allows users to access restricted areas using their smartphones. These credentials can be delivered through a mobile app or a web-based interface and can be used to unlock doors, gates, and other physical assets. Mobile access control systems are typically more convenient than traditional keycards and fobs – easily lost, but not so easily replaced – and can be managed seamlessly through a cloud-based access control system.
  • Stick a PIN in it: Keypad or PIN-based access control systems rely on users entering a designated PIN code on a keypad to gain entry. These systems are straightforward to deploy and cost-effective. They offer a level of security above key-based systems, as PIN codes can be changed frequently. However, PINs can be compromised if not adequately protected, and there is a risk of unauthorized access through observation or sharing of codes.
  • It’s in the cards: Card-based systems previously gained popularity due to their convenience and versatility. These systems employ RFID or magnetic stripe cards that users present to card readers to gain entry. The cards can be easily programmed and reprogrammed, making it simpler to add or revoke access privileges as needed. However, card-based systems still have certain vulnerabilities, such as the potential for lost or stolen cards.
  • Biometrics, baby: Biometric access control leverages unique biological traits, such as fingerprints, iris patterns, or facial recognition, to grant or deny access. This method is swiftly gaining ground and offers a high level of security and eliminates the need for cards or keys. Biometric systems are difficult to replicate or forge, providing a robust authentication mechanism. However, they may be costlier to implement and may require additional time for initial setup and enrollment.

On-Premise vs. Cloud-Based Systems

On-premises access control systems are installed and maintained on-site. Typically used by small businesses or organizations that have a limited number of employees and assets to protect, these systems are frequently less expensive than cloud-based safeguards but require ongoing maintenance and in-house oversight. They can occasionally be tricky to integrate with other, more contemporary security systems.

Cloud-based access control systems, on the other hand, are managed through a web-based interface and can be accessed from anywhere in the world using an Internet connection. They offer a wealth of benefits, including centralized management, increased visibility, and enhanced control over access to physical assets, including unparalleled flexibility when using mobile credentials.

Perhaps most importantly, this state-of-the-art tech allows owners and managers fully automated functionality and control that boosts efficiency at a much lower cost.

Cloud-based controls also:

  • Reduce the need for IT staff on-site.
  • Integrate easily and with legacy systems, requiring limited on-site hardware.
  • Update and backup automatically, offering increased peace of mind.
  • Can be accessed anywhere in the world at any time using a smartphone, laptop, or other Internet-connected device.

Quality access control is a critical component of any security system, and installation by a reputable security vendor is an absolute must. Why? Because proper implementation will depend on multiple factors including your unique needs, size, infrastructure, and daily foot traffic.

By and large, however, cloud-based systems will give you the absolute best bang for your buck, whether you need to outfit one door in your facility – or 1,000 spread out across all properties.

Secom can help. We are experts at seamlessly integrating your new access control tools with existing safeguards and security measures and can expand your reach with interconnectivity to your alarms, thermostats, and so much more.