Access control systems are the deterrent at entrance, exit and at various internal locations of premisis. It can be anything, even a mechanical or traditional wooden door controlled by the security guard can be termed as an access control. The main purpose is to control the unnecessary entry of the pedestrians & protect the premises against the misuse of the set of rules for the site. Only authorized persons can enter the site using the authentic credentials. The electronic access controls have become part of the modern building management system that helps in visitor management, resident permit system, temporary site visits, controlled & protected site management. The physical electronic access control system is a combination of lock & reader, the reader works on the principle of identity verification that can be of any type from biometrics to PIN to RFID cards. The application of access control is most dependent on the site to be protected, technical compliance, budgetary requirements, record management & various other factors.
Why do we need access controls?
Security & safety is the main concern for every premises, be it educational institute or office or sports ground. The undue entry of unauthorized persons can be a security threat so to deter the unnecessary entry is very important. The properly designed scheme for entry & exit of people for every site helps in reduction of thefts, vandalism, safety & security threats, and unwarranted crowds. It is not limited to controlling the people’s traffic in buildings only but in every office there is an access control plan in place. The person authorized to enter the office may or may not be permitted to enter a highly protected data storage room or archives department or any zone. Each person has limits of access to any zone as well as times of entry & exit are part of the plan. So the need for access control rises in all places where restrictions are to be placed for generalized access in order to protect the assets, privacy controls, crowd control etc.
What are the types of access controls?
Access control systems and solutions is a wide topic, theoretically as well as technically. In general, electronic access controls can be categorized as standalone & network based access control, and these both categories are further divided into several catagories. Standalone access controls work independently with no connection with any computer & all data is stored in the device itself. The unit is provided with power input, programing mode using PIN or RFID cards. The solution is good for one door application with a very least risk like a small office store room or residential block entry etc. The networkable access control as the name implies is networked with existing computer networks as well as with existing access controls. Here the data is stored in the centralized computer, and all data processing is done centrally. The central computer is used to control all modes of control for the site, be it retrieving the data, blocking the users or issuing temporary entry tokens etc.
Criteria for selection of access controls
Showing the credentials at the entry reader, entering the site, showing the credentials at the exit reader and leaving the site will be the simplest form of access control. The type of access control system with regard to site application depends on project requirement, security level, integration with third party systems like fire, BMS, turnstiles, alarm systems if needed. Criteria is to be decided by the security manager based on risk level. The access control can be entry level or enterprise level, as the factors to be considered are number of doors, method of authentication & authentication levels, data levels needed, storage of data etc. Access control is a combination of electronics hardware. Locks and authentication methods to be used, so criteria mainly depend on project requirements.
Types of electronics access control panels
Electronic access control ystsems panel are categorized based on number doors supported by the panel, the mode of communication, the types of communication interfaces etc. These are referred to as two doors if it has the capacity to control two doors, or four door controllers if it controls four doors, based on this call as multi door access controllers. The panels are with computer network ports (TCP/IP) or serial ports like RS485 & RS232 or combination of all. RS485 serial port is very useful for long distance communication between the controller and the computer being 1200Meter (1.2KM) apart. The reader interface ports are either weigand or OSDP or any proprietary protocols. OSDP is the latest access control systems standard to eliminate the technical drawbacks in weigand communication. Weigand communication has been in the access control industry for a long time and is a de facto protocol. OSDP is secure on the basis of technical compliances.
Types of access control readers
In the broad spectrum, the readers of two types of low frequency (125KHz) & high frequency (13.56MHz) used in industry for a long time. The QR readers have become popular based on high secure application and eliminating various drawbacks using traditional access readers. And hybrid readers are also available as a combination of low & high frequencies as well as QR code scanners. The readers are made using ABS or PC or as metal body with IP68 ingress protection for outdoor application purposes & IK10 impact resistance. The readers in general support Wiegand protocol for interface with the access control panels, the protocol is based on bit width of the wiegand format and standard 26-bit format is widely available. The OSDP protocol is also available in specific cases which is compatible with the OSDP controllers. In general the access readers are just an embedded antenna in a module, hermetically packed using ABS or any other material, designed with specific protocols for integration. The biometric readers are used wehere high level security and authentication is needed.
Credentials used for access controls
The credentials for access controls range from PIN codes to RFID cards to biometric devices or any possible combination or combination of all types, reffered as level 1 or level 2 or level 3 type security authentications. In level 1, one type of authentication method is used; in level 2, two type of combination is used and in level 3, three type combination is used. The credentials depend on the type reader used as the access control readers are available as hybrid readers.