Security Technology Part 4 – Access Control

Access control systems give enterprises of all kinds the ability to restrict access to various areas of their facility and track who is coming and going at all times. Access can be given to authorized and credentialed users and denied to those without access rights.

NextGen’s access control solutions can be tailored to facilities of all sizes across all industries. Our systems are scalable, so they can grow with you into the future as your operations grow.

There are many various components within an access control system. Here we take a look at some of the most common ones used to protect people and property.

Because an electronic access systems replaces a traditional lock-and-key door access method, access readers are a major component of any electronic access system. They’re used to read a user’s credentials, which can include RF proximity cards, keyfobs, or smart cards based on RFID technology that combines Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and contactless smart card technologies, such as a mobile phone. Mobile credentials allow the user’s smartphone to unlock entries. Additionally, Biometric readers can be used with a system to grant access based on a person’s physical characteristics, i.e. fingerprint, hand geometry, and facial recognition.

With the Mobile credential, the access control administrative software is programmed to assign a mobile credential to a person’s designated smartphone. The person simply installs that access control mobile app on their smartphone, logs in, and approaches a reader. The user then makes an unlock request with their smartphone to gain entry. This is a convenient and cost-effective technology for authorized contractors or visitors to a facility.

With the Biometric credential, a person is enrolled into a database which stores their physical characteristics as a profile.  The profile is assigned the appropriate authorization and as a person approaches a reader, the person’s characteristics are validated against those on file. If the characteristics match, access is granted.

The mobile and biometric access credentials are gaining in popularity because of the convenience they provide and because they offer less contact with a device.  Less contact reduces the risk of spreading germs, which has become a very important consideration given the recent Covid-19 Pandemic.

All entrances leading to restricted areas should be adequately secured and include any electrified or automated openings such as doors, elevators and stairwell floors, turnstiles, parking areas, and storage rooms. Door contact sensors indicate door status – whether a door is propped open or closed, or forced open without a validated authentication or request to exit. Request to Exit (REX) motion sensors and buttons can be used to unlock doors when someone is ready to exit through one of the entryways from the inside. Leaving an access point unsecured and unmonitored defeats the whole purpose of implementing an access control system. As with a fence line, if there is a gap in any part of the system, the whole system is compromised.  That is why it is essential to supervise and test access points and in higher risk sites, to layer the access control system with other assessment systems, i.e. Camera on an lesser used emergency exit door.

One new technology worth mentioning is Smart Mechanical Lock Core technology.  This technology allows a company to use programmable keys on less expensive mechanical locks.  It offers access control measures and a much better means of key control.  Think of the business case to be made for not having to rekey a building ever again.  Additionally, this technology can be interfaced with a reader type access control system.

In fact, layering proximity, mobile, biometric and smart core technology allows a company to cost-effectively cover many of the weaknesses seen in traditional systems.  An example would be using proximity for the general employee group, biometric for dual-factor authentication on critical areas (data centers), and smart core technology on lesser used areas, such as tool cribs or storage rooms.

Intrusion systems are another key part of an overall electronic access system. They’re used to control who can access any and all doors on the inside and the outside, and span touch screen keypad control, voice prompts, wired and wireless options, intercoms, remote arming/disarming, and panic buttons.

Arming staff with their own personal panic alarms gives them added security as well as peace of mind, especially for those working in areas that aren’t protected with surveillance cameras. Panic buttons allow users to summon for help when they’re dealing with a frightening situation. Regardless of whether there may be a fixed panic button already installed somewhere else in a room, a mobile panic alarm can be a game-changer in an emergency when a fixed button is not in arm’s reach. When the button in pressed, security personnel are alerted immediately with the users name, photo and location via Wi-Fi technology.

For sensitive facilities, such as hospitals or K-12 schools, installing a protective vestibule at the main provides another layer of security. It allows staff to safely screen visitors before granting them access inside. These ‘holding rooms’ or ‘mantraps’ as they’re sometimes referred to are really just a small room with an entry door on one wall and an exit door on the opposite wall. One door cannot be unlocked and opened until the opposite door has been shut and locked. Protective vestibules separate non-secure areas from secures ones and prevent unauthorized access. Shatter-proof, bullet-proof glass is used in most protective vestibules as it further protects personnel and allows them to safely see the visitor and identify any signs of suspicious behavior before allowing them access inside.

NextGen is a trusted access control solutions provider. We stand ready to assist with specifying and installing the optimum solutions tailored to your specific needs and scalable into the future. We also have the expertise to guide you in choosing the best hosting option for your particular access control system, be it on-premises, web-based, or hosted in the cloud. Call on us today for all your access control needs.