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How Access Control Systems Work

Access Control Systems enable an individual or group to control access to certain areas within a facility or computer information system. In physical security there are several components related to this type of system that I will be covering in this article.

Control Points

Access control points can be a door, turnstile, elevator, parking gate, or any other barrier where access can be granted or denied. Most access points are doors and these points can be controlled by electric locks. Rather than requiring a human operator to control the locks, an electronic reader is used to determine the level of accessability that is to be granted to incoming traffic.

Types of Readers

There are many different kinds of readers that are used to control entry points. Readers can use biometrics to scan finger or hand prints, they can be keypads that require a key code, and they can also be used to read keycards. Advances in network technology over the past decade have led to the increased use of IP readers. These readers are often PoE enabled which allow them to be easily integrated with battery backups. This means that in the event of a power failure, the control system will still operate properly. Control readers do not usually make the decision, but instead pass the information along to a control panel that verifies the proper access level.

Control Panels

Typically control systems are setup with a hub and spoke design positioning the access control panel as the hub and the readers as the spokes. The readers communicate to the control panel via RS485 serial connections. Access Control companies like GeoVision are now designing systems that are IP enabled. These types of systems use standard networks and advanced computer software on a host PC to verify and grant entry at access points.

Control System Integration

In additional to the components mentioned above, access control systems can be integrated with a variety of alarm systems. Security alarm systems can be combined with control points, extending coverage to prevent tampering. Fire alarm systems can also be integrated with access control allowing access points to be unlocked for quick evacuation in the event of a fire. GeoVision’s powerful software allows for full control over all of these systems, enhancing facility automation.

Cost and Benefit

Access control systems are extremely affordable these days and can easily be installed into any size facility. In addition to affordability, the benefits of having a control system far out-weight the cost incurred.

Top 3 benefits of using Access Control Systems:

  1. Authorization – granting only authorized users entry to doors or systems
  2. Accountability – logs and records that can account for an individual’s actions
  3. Identification – verifying an individual’s identify and level of accessability

Source by James R. Williams

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