In today’s world, security is of paramount concern! An Access Control System, or ACS, could be a valuable tool for your business. What is an access control system? What types are there? Which type would be most suitable to me? And what are access control systems prices like? Let’s see if we can answer these questions in this article.
What Is an Access Control System?
Put simply, an access control system is a way of controlling access to physical locations. Think of it as the next natural evolution of locks and keys. In times gone past, all that was needed was a visitor or staff logbook to keep track of who was entering and exited physical areas of a business. However, in today’s ever-expanding world, many businesses are feeling the need for a more sophisticated, modern way of controlling access. Almost everyone carries a smart phone, so some systems use phones as the “key” to enter and exit buildings. Others use biometrics such as your fingerprint.
All sorts of businesses use access control systems: Commercial properties, government entities, universities, Banks, healthcare facilities, retail, industrial and warehouse areas and more.
What Types of Access Control Systems Are Available?
Access control systems are not a new invention. Think of a hotel as an example. Perhaps some years ago when you visited a hotel you were given a physical key to access your room, you received this from the front desk who took your details to match the room and key to you. However, most hotels now use electronic keys or cards instead of the old-fashioned cut key. These can often be used to enable you to access other areas of the hotel, not just your room, such as a gym or pool, restaurant or dining area, and car parks.
Here are some examples including some advantages and disadvantages of each system.
Key cards / key fobs – Advantages include being cheap to replace if lost, the ability to track users movements, and ease of use. Disadvantages include the need for users to carry a physical key, potential for keys to get lost, and the potential for them to be used by unauthorised persons.
Key Pads – Advantages include users not needing to carry a physical key, potentially cheaper running costs with no physical keys to distribute and maintain, and the ability to make the key code as simple or complicated as needed. Disadvantages include the need for users to remember a code and the inability to track which users are entering physical areas.
Mobile Access – Using smart phones, smart watches, or tablets. Advantages include almost everyone always carrying at least one of these devices on their person. The ability to track individual users movements and the potential for 2 factor authentication before access. Disadvantages include users potentially losing devices, greater replacement costs, lack of simplicity for some users.
Biometrics – Using fingerprints, iris scanning, palm scanning, facial recognition etc. Advantages include users not needing to carry a physical key, potentially cheaper running costs with no physical keys to distribute and maintain, the ability to track users movements. Disadvantages include the time needed to acquire biometrics of each user and greater cost of some equipment.
Finally, there are 2 overall categories – Cloud based systems and local systems. Advantages of cloud based systems include being able to service from anywhere and 24/7 support from the supplier. On the other hand, having a locally managed system can come with cheaper running costs and sometimes more adaptability.
Advantages For Businesses
With the Global Access as a service market projected to reach over 2 billion by 2027 you might be thinking why?
Let’s start by talking about customer view. If you own an apartment building for instance, by installing an access control system you increase tenants and potential tenants’ perception of security. Tenants are more likely to want to live in a building where they perceive the owner has their security at heart. This same principle can be applied and prove true for other sectors such as healthcare. Patient outcomes can be affected by sense of security. If a patient sees an access control system is in place and being used, their sense of security will surely add to their recovery and comfort.
How about asset security. You will likely have expended much time, money and energy into your business, so you should make sure that it is protected. Take the time to analyse which areas of your premises contain the most financial risk. What are these risks? How many people have access to this area? Are they are all necessary? You will likely find that by implementing an access control system you can greatly reduce the risk of unauthorised persons entering and potentially damaging, causing financial harm, sensitive areas of your premises.
You may also fin that by installing such system you can reduce expenses such as insurance and expenses related to hiring personnel that are required to secure sites. Insurance companies love access control systems as this can show how you, their client, views security of a site. By having a robust security system, which an access control system most certainly is, you can prove to potential insurance companies that you are doing your part to keep your premises secure.
With this new found knowledge of access control systems you are likely very interested in implementing it in your business. Remember, there are multiple “keys” such as biometrics, key cards, smart devices (smart phones, watches, tablets) which you can use to suit your staff and / or customer base. You have the option between cloud based systems and locally managed systems. Whatever your budget you can be sure that you will find a system that will help you to keep your business safe and secure as well as potentially reducing costs for your business. So what are you waiting for, go and get one installed now!