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Electronic access control systems (EACS) are revolutionizing the way businesses and organizations secure their premises. They’re advanced entry management and security tools that monitor access and ensure that only authorized individuals can access specific areas.
By understanding electronic access control benefits and components and following best practices for implementation, organizations can ensure a safe and secure environment for their employees and assets.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the intricacies of electronic access control. We’ll shed light on system components, benefits, and implementation best practices. Keep on reading!
The global electronic access control systems market, valued at $14.64 billion in 2023, underscores the growing reliance on these systems. It's projected to expand year-over-year by 8.3% to reach an estimated $32.5 billion by 2033, according to a report by Fact.MR.
Access control panels are the brains behind the access control operation. They process information from readers and make decisions on door access based on authorization lists and rules. They're usually installed in secure locations and communicate with a network of credential readers installed at access points.
The access control panel processes credential information collected by door readers to make real-time decisions about granting or denying access.
Typically, each panel is responsible for multiple access points, and it operates by receiving signals from readers, processing the data, and then sending commands to allow or restrict entry.
Access control credential readers come in many forms, but they all serve the purpose of credential validation. Readers are designed differently to function with different types of credentials.
For example, an access point that requires a knowledge credential, such as the input of a PIN, would necessarily need a reader with a keypad. Similarly, an access system requiring fingerprint credentials would need a reader featuring or connected with a fingerprint scanner.
Credentials are the “keys” in an electronic access control system.
They can be physical (like access cards and fobs), digital (like Bluetooth data transmitted from smartphones), biological (like fingerprints and irises), or knowledge-based (requiring PINs or passwords).
The access control server is where data is stored, usually on a dedicated computer. It houses the software that manages, monitors, and controls the access points.
The server communicates with multiple control panels, ensuring that data is consistent and up-to-date across the entire system.
In essence, while the control panel makes on-the-spot decisions, the server oversees the broader system, setting policies and storing access logs.
Electronic access control systems eliminate the risks associated with lost or duplicated mechanical keys. Instead, they transmit highly encrypted data for identification to ensure that credentials only open those doors and resources users are authorized to access.
Electronic access control systems record all access attempts to provide detailed logs of who entered, where, and when. These records enable rapid and effective security investigations. They also help highly regulated sectors, like healthcare and finance, comply with data logging and maintenance regulations.
Electronic access control systems are easy to modify. For example, if an employee leaves or changes roles, their access can be updated without reissuing keys. And when electronic “keys” are lost, they can be remotely deactivated to prevent bad actors from using them.
While the initial investment in electronic access control might be greater than traditional lock-and-key methods, the long-term savings are substantial. Workflows are improved, administrators spend less time dealing with keys and lock changes, and costly security breaches are avoided.
Electronic access control systems provide unparalleled security, flexibility, and peace of mind. Here are the best practices for implementation:
Before installation, conduct a thorough assessment of the premises you need to secure. Identify critical areas that require higher security levels and busy access points that are less high-security but require seamless movement. The types of credentials suited to an access point will depend on the point’s unique entry management needs.
For enhanced security, implement multi-factor authentication. Access control points with multi-factor authentication require users to present two or more separate credentials for verification before the system will consider granting access.
Multi-factor authentication is a smart approach to security because it provides an extra layer of protection when credentials are compromised.
Multi-factor authentication improves security so much that most credential readers are designed to assess multiple credential types. For example, a door reader with a keypad for PINs and passwords may also have a slot for magnetic stripe cards and an internal antenna for receiving RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification), NFC (Near-Field Communication), or Bluetooth signals.
Technology evolves rapidly. Ensure your system is always up-to-date to benefit from the latest security enhancements.
A system is only as strong as its weakest link. Ensure all employees understand how the system works and the importance of not sharing credentials.
In case of power failures, have a backup system for electricity in place to ensure continuous security coverage.
Regularly review and audit your access control system. Check for any vulnerabilities and address them promptly.
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In the context of security, electronic access control systems are advanced entry management tools that monitor access to ensure that only authorized individuals can access specific areas.
In electronic access control systems, the access control panel is the central unit that processes information from readers. It makes decisions on door access based on authorization lists and rules, granting or denying access in real-time.
Access control readers validate credentials by receiving and processing information from various credential types, such as PINs, fingerprints, or access cards, ensuring the right individuals gain entry.
In an electronic access control system, credentials can be physical, digital, biometric, or knowledge-based.
Audit trails in electronic access control systems record all access attempts, providing detailed logs of who entered, where, and when. These records are crucial for security investigations and compliance in regulated sectors like healthcare and finance.
In the context of electronic access control systems, multi-factor authentication requires users to present two or more separate credentials for verification before granting access, adding an extra layer of security protection.