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ABC’s of Access Control

Why do you need to know the ABC's of Access Control? With threats to security being a constant concern, the quest on how to better control facility access is an ongoing process. When talking access control, it is all about WHO, WHERE and WHEN.

Prior to the introduction of electronic access control systems, an access control was enforced through keys and locks. A person with a key could enter a locked door; and that is about as far as access control went. There was no way to restrict access on specific times or dates; so long as a person possessed the key, they were in.

The dawn of electronic access control systems began in the 1960’s. They were developed to eliminate problems with lost keys. Not only was a lost key a high security risk, it was also a big hassle to change locks each time it happened.

However, more than just addressing the lost key situation, it enabled those in charge of security to add, allow, restrict or deny any person’s access to any specific area at any time.

The use of electronic access control systems answered the need to control WHO can gain and WHERE and WHEN that access is given.

ABC's of Access Control: System Components

Electronic access control systems can range from the most basic to the most complex. However, regardless of type or complexity, access control systems consist of the following basic components:

Electronic Lock Hardware

This is the equipment that electronically locks and unlocks the doors that are controlled by the access control system. The hardware, in most cases, is designed to control entrance into a building or a secure space, but in order to comply with building and fire codes, they do not normally restrict exit at any time, although there are exceptions.

Access Control Server Computer

The server computer serves as the “brain” of the access control system. The server computer runs easy to understand access control application software. The server and the accompanying software contains the database of authorized persons, as well as, the commands for entryways within the building or property.

New technology today provides for the option for the Access Control Server and associated software to run in the cloud as a cloud-based solution. The cloud-based access control system reduces costs and increases ease of access to the system through the internet or a smartphone, with proper credentials, of course.

The system allows for tracking of WHO entered the premises, at WHAT time and WHERE they went. An audit trail is generated and can be used to assist investigation into any security breach.

Readers/Entry Devices

These are the devices that “read” entry credentials and allow or deny entry. There are 3 basic types of readers:

a. Keypad
b. Card Reader
c. Biometric Reader


In electronic access control systems, credentials are essentially the “keys”. These are presented to the reader to gain access to a secure area. When access is granted, the door is unlocked for a predetermined time. Information such as time and date of entry is recorded.

Credentials used in electronic access control systems depend on the kind of readers that are used:

a. Personal Identification Number (PIN) in case of Keypads
b. Smart Card or Fob for Card Readers
c. Fingerprint, Handprint or any Biometric characteristic for Biometric Readers

Advantages of an Electronic or Keyless Access Control System

It is Flexible

Credentials are configured for each individual granted access. This allows for customized access depending on who is holding the credential. Therefore, a certain person can be granted full access while some can have restricted access to certain areas and may only enter at a designated time period and day.

Therefore, it is possible to issue access credentials for managers who may have full access or to cleaning crews who may only access office and public areas and may enter the building only for a designated time period.

It is Cost Effective

While initial installation may involve some financial outlay, electronic access control systems are cost effective. Compared to traditional lock and key systems, the use of swipe card, key fobs and biometric access negates the need to change the locks in the event of a lost or stolen card or if a card is not returned by a resigned or dismissed employee.

The system allows for easy deletion of a particular card or access credential from the system while causing no inconvenience to other users.

It Allows for Record Keeping

As mentioned above, audit trails are created and businesses can keep a record of persons who entered and the exact time they entered. This becomes especially useful if thefts or any incidents occur that can be narrowed down to a specific time period; records can be pulled up to determine who entered the building corresponding to the time period.

What information is stored by the system?

  • Date and time credential was used
  • Name of credential holder
  • Unique ID number or badge number
  • Name of door or reader being accessed
  • Access granted/denied condition

This information can stored up to several years.

It Can Be Used for Multiple Locations

You can centralize monitoring several properties, even those in overseas location from just one server.

ABC's of Access Control: Types of Systems

There is a wide range of options available for access control systems. However, there are 3 basic types, dictated by the type of entry device used:

Access Control Keypads

A password or personal identification number (PIN) is entered on a keypad.

Biometric Access Control

These are increasingly being used in buildings as advances in technology have made them less expensive to make and install. Human characteristics such as a person’s retina, finger print or hand print is used to verify identity using a small screen or scanner. Since a fingerprint or a person’s retina is unique to each individual, it gets very difficult to forge biometric credentials.

Access Control Keycard Reader

Among the options available, this choice is the most widely used. A smart card or key fob is presented to a card reader.
Though each option can be used on their own, one can be used in combination with another for enhanced security.

Action 1st Offers the Best Electronic Access Control Systems in Orange County

Whatever your requirements are, Action 1st has the electronic access control system that meets your needs.

Now that you understand the ABC's of Access Control, call us today for an appointment at (949) 828-3008 and our experts will be happy to discuss your security needs and provide a free onsite survey and estimate.

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