1.0 Access Control

In the past, access control consisted of locks and keys, sometimes complemented with security guards. While the locks were cost-effective to install, and met a certain level of effectiveness, the long-term costs continued to mount. Most mechanical keys are easy to duplicate, and lost keys resulted in re-keying locks. As well, the lock and key system could not provide records of who accessed the building or when. The shortcomings of this system, and the emerging need for more efficient security and accountability led to the advent and implementation of modern access control systems.

1.1 What is access control?

The modern use of the term access control has been defined by Security, Technology & Design magazine as "... a reading device located near a locked door or gate that is connected to a microprocessor and when the correct entry token is presented, access will be granted to that given locked door or gate." (Lionel Silverman, "Keyless Access Control," ST&D, Sept. 1999).

Controlling access gives you the ability to authorize, restrict or deny entrance or exit of people, vehicles and/or property at any given time in your buildings and facilities. In addition to performing basic lock and key functions, access control also establishes and controls specific access privileges for each person and each door within the facility. Real-time monitoring and event-generating alarm software functions provide the best possible security.

An effective access control system embraces the following elements:

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1.2 How does an access control system work?

An access control system grants or denies access or egress based on the correct identifying information presented as:

The microprocessor in the reader transmits the information to the controller, which evaluates the validity of the request. Access or egress is then either granted or denied based on whether the information can be verified against a stored authorization profile. These profiles are designed to provide independent access rules for each person or entry point.

The profiles define the ability of the encoded card number, Personal Identification Number (PIN), and/or biometric attribute to gain access based on any number of the following criteria:

If the information passes these checks, the secured door will unlock electronically. If the information is invalid, the system response may be to simply not grant entry, or it may also initiate CCTV recording, alarms, or dispatch physical guards or the police to the site.

More advanced access control systems also have the capability to integrate a number of facility control functions, including alarm events, on-line CCTV monitoring and recording, photo verification, photo imaging and badging, multiple technology cards, HVAC control and management, and automatic elevator control.

A truly integrated access control provides a central point of control, from a local or remote location, that offers a unified approach to an electronic infrastructure system. This single location can be programmed to monitor and control multiple sites across the country or around the world, enabling higher security for global organizations.

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1.3 Why should I invest in an access control system?

An access control system is an investment. It increases security, enhances overall building integrity and improves operations efficiency by controlling access and providing recorded data that verifies who has accessed the building (or any secured portion of the building) at any given time.

It provides safety for employees and protection of physical and intellectual property. In an integrated system, it can also provide burglar alarm, CCTV, HVAC, elevator control, time and attendance, facility management, and asset tracking and photo identification/badging capabilities. Information can be monitored, controlled and synchronized from one central point, eliminating the need for costly, independent systems.

The integrated capabilities of such a system provide significant cost savings in equipment, wiring, and manpower. Some of the points to considering when investing in an access control system are:

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1.4 Who can benefit from an access control system?

Nearly every type and size of business can benefit from an access control system. Whether you have 1 door or 3,000 doors, there is an appropriate system available to meet your requirements.

Crime has reached a plateau over the past few years, but business crime has grown. There are fewer reported incidences of crime, but at higher losses. Those losses translate to liability increases.

Security Magazine's Year 2001 Profile study brought out the top concerns for security professionals. They ranked employee theft first, property crime second and access/egress third. Then came violent crime, computer security, parking security and liability insurance.

To meet the requirements of safeguarding both employee and property, companies are investing more money into high-tech security equipment. In fact, according to the "World Security Products & Systems" study published by The Freedonia Group Inc., the world market for security products and systems is projected to grow nearly 9 percent annually through the year 2004, approaching $60 billion. These figures are clear that security directors and building managers are taking security seriously.

The following are examples of specific business sectors and their most outstanding needs relating to security and access control.

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