Are your assets secure? Has your business or home ever been broken into, or have you ever had people get into places they shouldn’t be in? While a lock and key used to be the answer, advancements in technology have granted us several alternatives to carrying around giant, cumbersome key rings. Now automatic doors and security gates make entrances and exits much easier to use and more secure, and automating control of these systems has brought forth a plethora of access control technologies.
Keys themselves have changed quite a bit since their inception as the premiere method of access control. These days, hotels, businesses and even gated communities use key cards instead of metal keys to grant access to visitors, employees and residents respectively. But even the term key card is a little vague considering the different styles of key cards out there.
Magnetic stripe cards utilize a magnetic stripe (like that found on the back of a credit card) that is swiped through a reader to convey the information necessary to grant access to an area. This is typically done by having the reader release an electric or magnetic lock allowing the door to be opened, or having the “magstripe” reader activate an electric gate operator that will open a security gate granting vehicle access. These cards allow for more specific programming creating different levels of access and eliminating the need to worry about collecting keys from ex-employees or residents by giving you the ability to deactivate them from a central location.
Wiegland cards and proximity are similar except that the information is stored inside the card reducing the cards susceptibility to wear. These cards are placed next to a reader and the information is transmitted through airwaves.
Smart cards allow extra data to be stored on the card itself such as biometric information or key codes. These cards can be contact cards the require contact with the reading device or non-contact cards that don’t even need to be removed from the wallet or purse to activate the reader. A bar code reader uses one or more lasers to read bar codes on plates or stickers allowing vehicles to pass freely through an entrance without even requiring the vehicle to stop.
Biometrics are the latest advancement in access control technologies, requiring person specific information from the person requesting entrance. Fingerprint readers read your fingerprints, iris readers scan your eye to find a match, and even facial recognition systems scan your entire face to make sure you have authority to proceed. Biometrics can be used in conjunction with other access control methods for maximum protection.
But let’s say you just want something simple for your home residence. Automatic doors or electric gate operators can be activated through various methods, such as key pads, telephone entry systems, even remote control. Keypads can just require a certain sequence to be entered, while telephone entry systems dial into a network to contact someone with the power to grant you access. Remote control gate transmitters allow you to open a gate with the click of a button, and are available in various sizes from small key chain sized transmitters to clickers you can clip to the sun visor in your vehicle.
More basic methods of access control include pneumatic pads, motion detectors, and buttons. These methods are very low security and are more for convenience, air conditioning retention or one-way access control. Pneumatic pads are pressure sensitive and activate a door when weight forces air out of them. These are commonly found at grocery store entrances. Motion detectors activate when someone walks through a specified area. Buttons can be used to release a lock or activate a door opening sequence, based on the situation. Exit buttons are located inside a secure area and allow pedestrians to exit, but there is no way to reenter from the other side.
A final method of access control is the good old turnstile. Turnstiles are available for either access control or traffic control. Traffic control turnstiles would be waist high turnstiles or pedestrian barriers. They restrict access but don’t necessarily prevent it. These would be the turnstiles you see at theme parks or mass transit stations. Full height turnstiles on the other hand are usually part of a fence or wall and allow access to only one person at a time. These are usually paired with an access control device of some sort to restrict access to government properties or corporate facilities. Another form of turnstile is an E-gate. These devices verify credentials (such as ID or passports) before granting access to pedestrians.
By securing your home or business with an access control system, you’ll rest easier knowing that your property is safe and secure.