A commercial organisation has many options in terms of security, and following a comprehensive risk assessment should be able to identify the best way to manage security on a particular site. This may involve manned security, dog security or a CCTV system.

But these kind of security solutions don’t typically contribute to physically controlling and monitoring who has access to a building and who is in the building at any one time, unless a front-of-house concierge also doubles-up as security personnel.

In many cases a commercial organisation will invest in an access control system which uses technological solutions to:

  • Enable access to a building
  • Provide a level of access appropriate to each individual person
  • Offer visibility of who is on site at any particular time

Why do we need access control systems?

Of course every business needs to control who is authorised to be on site, in terms of protecting product, machinery and equipment, people, people’s possessions, the building and data and information. But this threat doesn’t just come externally, and many businesses also need to restrict access within the organisation in terms of seniority and between departments. It is common, for example, to restrict access within an organisation to areas such as computer servers, human resources data, hazardous materials, laboratories or product specifications.

Access control is not just needed to prevent theft or trespass from external sources by having a central ‘clocking-in’ hub by the main point of access, but is also needed to maintain the organisational flow of a business and maintain appropriate levels of authority and confidentiality, by having smaller hubs at access points between departments and annexe buildings.

The different uses for access control systems

The best access control systems are technology-based because they offer multiple uses and, in most cases, enable the main point of security access to be automatic and completely unmanned. This is cost-effective for the business, allows the site to be accessed and controlled 24 hours a day, makes entry and exit fast and efficient, and also provides human resources and health and safety information. So a business can use an access control system to allow access on site, but also monitor attendance and punctuality (such systems are often integrated with personnel systems so you can monitor holidays and sick pay) and allow identification of who is on site and in what zone of the building they are located.

An access control system is not just allowing access through the front door, it can also be used to create ‘zones’ on site, and users can be allocated with permissions which grant them access to certain zones within the building, as per their role or seniority. Another important element of an access control system is remote access. This enables a nominated person to monitor and control the system from a remote location, ie. from home after hours or during holiday periods. This gives the business 24/7 control, which means a system administrator can lock or unlock doors remotely, can change or restrict authorisation as appropriate, can do a roll call to identify who is on site and can initiate an emergency lockdown if required.

Using technology-based access control therefore enables:

  • Alarm and area zoning
  • External and internal access control
  • Remote management
  • Time, attendance and other human resources functions
  • Energy-efficiency – setting up systems to ensure lights and switches are off when a building is unoccupied
  • Emergency lockdown procedures
  • Access control can be linked to existing systems such as fire alarms, intruder alarms, ANPR barriers and CCTV

How is authorisation and access controlled?

A business will need to appoint a system administrator who has the responsibility of controlling the system, allocating permissions and levels of access and monitoring the method used for access control. By this we mean that the business can decide which physical method it wants to use for employees and authorised people to gain access. This can be:

  • A unique code or number sequence
  • A key card or fob
  • A smartphone app
  • A biometric feature – ie. retina scan, fingerprint scan or facial recognition

The business can decide what is the most suitable method in terms of practicality and ease of use. This will depend on how robust the system is in terms of security. You can implement controls such as anti-passback, for example, which prevents the same code/card being used twice within a specified timeframe. If you have many people arriving at the same time and wanting to gain access, such as a shift changeover, then you want the quickest and most-efficient method, but it has to also be sufficiently secure. This may be a biometric scan or flashing a keycard, rather than everyone inputting a unique code.

Contact First Response Group for advice on access control systems

So the type of access control system you need depends very much on the size of your premises and the nature of your operations. At First Response Group we can advise on the type of system that is most appropriate for how many people need to access your premises, and how you want to control and monitor access.

Contact our team today and we will work with you to find the best possible security solution with our access control systems.

Chris Connor

Article By:

Chris Connor

Head of Technical Sales

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