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What to Know About Electronic Access Control

hand using keycard on electronic access control panel to enter a door

Access control is a critical component of security for any facility. There are several types of access control and options available for implementation. Here is what to know about electronic access control:

What is Electronic Access Control?

Access control refers to systems and components that allow authorized people to enter buildings, rooms, areas, etc. while restricting entrance to anyone who is not authorized.

Electronic access control (EAC) refers to a category of access control products that use electric locks, cards and card readers, credentials and other readers that restrict or allow entrance through an access point, which is also referred to as an access portal or security portal.

Multiple components can be customized and combined to create the right access control system for a specific building or group of buildings. Installations can include offline and online access control, multi-site access control or access control for multiple buildings, and more.

Flexibility and scalability are some benefits of enterprise access control systems. There can also be varying levels and types of doors, gates, turnstiles, and other access portals in addition to different types of access for each that are operated and controlled within the same overall system.

6 Electronic Access Control Options

Access control readers can be considered offline and online. Offline access control readers tend to be paired with locks that are individually programmed at the access point. Online access control readers and components use a database and computers to create an electronic access control system.

While offline systems have to be manually programmed from the reader at the access point, online systems allow multiple access points to be programmed from a central location, managed remotely, and provide real-time logging of cards, credentials, etc. Here are a few electronic access control options:

1. Electronic Door Locks

Electronic door locks are some of the most common electronic access control options. These locks can be operated with key cards or fobs that can be swiped or passed in front of a sensor for access. They can also have a numbered keypad where people input a specific code for access.

Some egress devices, like delayed egress magnetic locks, also fall under this category. These locks restrict access through the doors, but allow exit during emergencies. If they receive a signal from the fire alarm, they unlock immediately to allow safe emergency exits.

2. Intercoms

Intercoms are another access control option that can operate on their own or as another layer on top of other access control methods. Whether located at a gate or a door, an intercom can be used to communicate with a person on the other end who can manually approve or deny entrance based on the conversation.

These can be operated at a single access point or installed to work across multiple checkpoints or access points, as you might find in a secure hospital, a detention center, or another high-security facility.

3. Biometric Access Control

Biometric access control uses biographical data to allow or restrict access. Instead of cards or codes, these readers use fingerprints, palms scans, facial recognition, retina scans, etc.

Like other access control methods, biometric access control can be layered on top of other security systems and even other access control methods for an additional step or layer of security for a particular access point or facility.

4. Turnstiles

Turnstiles can provide another layer of access control and crowd control in high-traffic areas. In this type of application, turnstiles are either the more traditional barrier arm turnstiles or optical turnstiles.

When paired with some sort of access control, the barrier arm can unlock to move through it or the plastic screens of an optical turnstile open to allow entry when a card, ticket, etc. is scanned.

5. Electronic Access Control for Vehicles

In addition to access control for people, your facility may also need perimeter protection technologies, like gates or bollards, to manage access for vehicles. Electronic access control with these methods involves high-tech gates that lift for access or bollards that automatically descend to allow access with the scan of a card, push of a button, entry of a code, etc.

6. Multi-Site Access Control

Another one of the electronic access control options is scaling one system to comprehensively cover multiple buildings on a campus or even multiple facilities and sites across a larger geographical area. Because the database can be accessed and managed remotely, it’s possible to have related buildings on separate sides of the country covered under one system.

Depending on the operations, there are typically site controllers for individual buildings, teams, access points, etc. that are networked within the same system. Each controller has its own database including schedules, access levels, etc. that operate for the designated site while still falling under the overall organizational access control system.

Get the Electronic Access Control Your Facility Needs

These are just a few basics to know about electronic access control. The right mix of security products and systems will vary from facility to facility. Choosing the right security systems integrator can go a long way in getting comprehensive and effective security for your facility. If your facility’s security needs an upgrade, contact NEPPS at 800-736-1456 to schedule a free site assessment.