The Ultimate Guide to Access Control Installation
Discover how to design, build and install commercial grade access control to increase employee safety and protect your business assets.
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Are you looking to install a new access control system to protect your business or commercial property? Would you like to be able to have control of who has access to your building, when they have access to your building and even allow entry into the building using your smartphone?
Welcome to the world of commercial access control installation and cloud based access control solutions.
Access control systems come in a variety of configurations, sizes, integration capabilities and use cases. Some door entry systems only need to cover four doors in a relatively smaller building. Others, need to control access to more than 20 doors in a large office and require both fingerprint scan and prox card authentication. No matter the case, businesses that deal in highly regulated industries or have data storage facilities need an access control system.
Why? Because an access control system, when integrated into your video surveillance system, will deny access to unauthorized personnel entering the most important spaces in your building and also record video footage of anyone attempting to exchange credentials.
Benefits of Access Control
If you run a business, you know exactly how much goes into keeping your office or store safe and secure – and how much work it can take simply to keep the place properly locked when closed and open for employees during business hours. Not only does the first employee to arrive in the morning need a key, but so does whoever locks up the place at night. And if you have several points of access and secure points that need to be locked during the day, keeping everything locked down – yet still accessible for the right people – can be a serious logistical challenge.
The answer lies in access control. And while access control can take on many different forms, the simplest and most important for many businesses is simply some type of keyless entry system.
How Keyless Entry Systems Help Secure Businesses
1. They Increase Security
This is the most apparent – and important – benefit of any access control system, and the primary reason for making the switch. Access control systems are more effective at keeping out unauthorized personnel, are harder to bypass than regular locks and keys, and contribute to an overall greater level of safety in business and facilities of all sizes.
2. You Don’t Have To Worry About Lost Or Stolen Keys
When an employee loses a key and you take the security of your facility seriously, it can be necessary to switch out all the locks to ensure no one who finds the key can use it. But with an access control system, there are no traditional keys to worry about: employees use either PIN codes (knowledge factors) for access, or access cards, which are easy to disable and revoke individually within the system when lost or stolen.
3. Easy Record-Keeping And Logs
Access Control systems can keep track of who comes in and out of your building, enabling you to keep records and logs of every employee or visitor who comes through those doors. This can come in particularly handy when something goes missing or a security breach occurs, as all visitors, employees and other personnel who have come and gone can be tracked and verified. Want to find out who came in first? Who came in in the middle of the night? Easy and done.
4. Makes Employee Turnover Easier
When using traditional locks or basic locking door handles, it’s often necessary to switch them out or change the code when an employee leaves the company or is denied further access. With an access control system, you have complete control over each employee’s individual credentials and permissions and can simply deactivate their unique access code or revoke their access card, without needing to change the entire system’s settings and credentials for each user. You can integrate and sync your system directly with your HR database for quick, easy cross-referencing and updating.
5. Endlessly Customizable
With modern access control models, there is virtually no end to the number of custom permissions and rules you can set. Want to limit certain employees’ access during certain hours? No problem. Restrict access to certain rooms? Easy. Even set up the system to require multiple authentication factors for some individuals, but not others? That can also be done. Access control systems give you massive depth and breadth of control and allow for a truly customized security experience.
6. Allow A Variety Of Credential Types
Building off their nearly-infinite options for customization, access control systems also allow you to choose from a variety of different authentication factors and credential types, and even mix and match them within systems. Many systems (especially cloud-based) now even let users employ their smartphones to control and unlock doors, using it like any other form of access card.
7. Smartphone Accessible
Cloud-based access control systems are becoming increasingly popular and make controlling and monitoring the comings-and-goings of your business easy as they allow for easy, convenient mobile access and control on your phone or tablet. Mobile apps such as Brivo OnAir integrate seamlessly with their respective cloud-based systems, allowing you to control various functions such as set up and eliminate user permissions, add or remove roles, and change credentials, and even view access logs, all from virtually anywhere in the world.
8. Cloud-Based Access Control Updates Itself
As cloud-based access control systems get smarter and more advanced, they become capable of updating and improving their own software, integrating new security features and security updates, on their own. The servers are stored off-site and maintained by the external cloud security company, who takes care of all equipment upgrades and maintenance, ensuring you spend more time on what matters to you – your business – and less on the logistics and details of door locks. When you need to change something, however, simply log on to the app and customize to your liking.
9. Multiple Properties And Facilities
Some facilities and businesses have multiple buildings and campuses, and personnel need to be able to easily access and move between these facilities throughout the day. Carrying several different keys – or even several different swipe cards – is hassling and time-confusing, but with today’s access control, the system can easily be setup to allow one single access card or credential to access many different locks – even in totally different locations. Cloud-based systems and mobile credentials are particularly useful in these situations.
10. Good For The Bottom Line
While installing an access control system costs money up-front, access control systems are becoming more and more affordable – and the security they offer can end up saving you thousands of dollars (if not more) were the possibility of a security breach to become reality. Cloud-based access control systems also eliminate many of the costs associated with installation and maintenance of a server, as those are handled remotely by the cloud security service. The few costs access control does incur should be seen as an investment to the overall safety and security of your business and employees, anyway.
Types of Access Control
All Keyless Entry Systems are a form of access control. Some are more high-tech than others, and each have their own advantages and drawbacks. There are several different alternatives to keyed doors, but the most common include:
Keypads might be the easiest of the bunch. Instead of necessitating that employees carry around a physical key or keycard, keypads allow businesses to simply use a single keycode or PIN code for unlocking the door. Employees only need to memorize it. And for extra security, more advanced systems can even let each employee could even have their own unique keycode.
The drawbacks to Keypad systems include that they are usually much less high-tech than their counterparts, and most cannot be remotely accessed or managed. Only the most advanced and expensive of keypads allow much customization, too, and setting up individual codes, rules and credentials can be quite limited. Also, when employees leave the company, it can be necessary to change the code on all the locks – though this is still much easier than changing out all the physical locks when traditional keys are used.
Key Card Access Systems
Keycard entry systems are often a step up from keypads in terms of customizing, features and other capabilities; they’ll have more smart features and are almost always a part of a larger, integrated access control system that lets you set rules and other important access info.
Unlike keypads, however, keycard locks still require some type of physical credential – a swipe card, prox card or a smart card. These are still much more convenient than traditional hard keys, and allow for much more customization, but can still be lost and need replacing. In the case of employees leaving or a single key being lost, however, they can be much more convenient, as the system admin can simply blacklist that single card in the system.
Smart Locks And Mobile Credentials
Smart locks with mobile credentials can be the most advanced of keyless entry systems, allowing for complete customization, remote access, and unlocking doors straight from your phone. Many smart locks and wireless access control systems will also take multiple forms of credentials, such as swipe cards or prox cards in addition to being lockable and unlockable via smartphone or other device.
While many of systems utilize cloud technology to do this, many others use wireless technologies such as Z-Wave, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. For this reason, many of them only work at short range, as the device must be within the range of the lock.
PIN Code Access Control Systems
There are many different forms of access control credentials and readers out there, but few are as convenient as PIN coder readers. Simple and affordable to install, PIN code readers are one of the easiest ways to take your access control to another level. Keep reading to see how they could help you do the same.
How Do PIN Code Readers Work?
PIN Code Readers can be attached to a few different types of electronic locks – both standalone locks and those attached to a complete access control system and network. Standalone locks will usually contain all the hardware and software necessary to lock and unlock the door when the PIN code is punched in; once the code is entered, a small electrical current will trigger the actuator, which controls the door lock via a small motor, either locking or unlocking it as necessary.
If the electronic lock is part of a greater access control system, the PIN code will work just like any other form of credential; triggering the system to check the database of users, credentials and permissions to verify the user’s identity, before unlocking the door and allowing access.
PIN code readers might be simpler and less technologically-advanced than a few other forms of access control authentication factors (think smart cards), but they provide their own benefits as well.
Reasons to Use PIN Code Access Control Systems
1. They’re Cheaper
PIN Code readers will generally be one of the least-expensive forms of access control readers to install, as they are generally less software-intensive than swipe card, prox card and especially smart card readers. This doesn’t make them any less capable, however, if being integrated into an access control system.
2. Don’t Require A Physical Card
Physical swipe cards and prox cards can be lost or stolen, allowing unauthorized persons access to doors in question, as well as just being inconvenient and requiring replacement. And while most prox or swipe cards and relatively inexpensive, creating them and handing them out to all authorized users can add up – another reason why PIN code readers can be much more cost-effective.
3. Most Are Smart Phone Compatible
While PIN code readers can be employed on standalone electronic locks, newer models will still support the features found on most access control systems and smart locks, such as remote monitoring and control via mobile app and automation for programming it to lock and unlock at automatically at certain times of day, among other functions.
Types of Card Access Control
1. Proximity Cards
Proximity cards can be made of several different materials, but they all work in the same way; by being held in close proximity to the card reader, without needing to make physical contact with the reader. This sets them apart from swipe cards or other contact-style cards, which need to actually make physical contact with the reader.
Proximity Cards can be Active or Passive, both running off 125 kHz radio frequencies. Passive Cards are powered by radio frequency (RF) signals from the reader that reads the encoded number embedded on the card. These are the much more common form of proximity card in use for access control.
Active Proximity Cards, on the other hand, are powered by internal lithium batteries, sending out their own 125khz frequencies to contact the card reader. They generally have greater range (up to 5 or 6 feet), but the battery must eventually be replaced. When it comes to access control, however, they are not used nearly as often.
Proximity cards almost always use some form of the Wiegand protocol to communicate with the card reader. Basic Proximity Cards are usually thin, the same size as a credit card, and made from PVC with a wireless antenna embedded in the plastic. Clamshell proximity cards use two different layers of PVC glued together, with the antenna between them, while composite proximity cards use a blend of PVC and polyester.
2. Swipe Cards
Swipe cards, also sometimes called magnetic stripe cards, function using none other than a magnetic stripe, almost exactly like those found on credit cards. At the most technical of levels, swipe cards work first by modifying the magnetism of the particles contained in the magnetic stripe on the card, which then picked up and read by the magnetic reading head found in the card reader at the access point.
All you need to know, however, is that a swipe card works by being swiped through the card reader at the door, and the user’s access code and credentials are immediately read. Swipe cards are one of the oldest forms of card access out there (if not the oldest) and are generally reliable – though the magnetic stripes do tend to wear out over time. They are widely being replaced with tougher, more secure cards as time goes on.
3. Smart Cards
Smart Cards are the latest in access control card technology and, as the name implies, the most advanced. Contactless smart cards are like proximity cards, but further build and improve on the original technology. Instead of running off 125 kHz frequencies as proximity cards usually do, smart cards run much faster, usually transmitting at 13.56 mHz – which is far faster, more powerful and reliable. They are also capable of writing data, in addition to just reading it, which allows them to store much more information and makes them useful in a whole host of different applications, in addition to standard access control uses.
Like regular passive proximity cards, smart cards do not have an internal power source, instead using inductors to conduct an RF signal from the antenna embedded in the card reader when placed within proximity. Data can travel at much faster speeds – anywhere from 106 to 848 kbits/second – which makes them excellent when speed is crucial (hence why they are often used on public transport systems). Furthermore, smart cards can store much more data than traditional 125 kHz proximity cards, allowing for a whole host of credential options.
4. Combined Smart/Proximity Cards
Furthermore, smart cards are capable of being combined with other card technologies, such as proximity cards or magnetic stripes, allowing for a whole range of customizable access credentials, information storage and enhanced security within a card access system.
What About RFID Cards?
Another term you will see frequently being discussed, as it relates to card access control, is RFID Card. While RFID cards might sound like another technology of their own, RFID merely refers to the technology that proximity cards already use: Radio Frequency. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification, and is used when necessary for identifying an object, whether that’s a package in transit or a car in production. RFID Card is simply another way of referring to a proximity card, in this case by the actual technology.
IP Access Control
Access Control is an integral part of any security system, and thanks to rapid improvements in network technology, they are now becoming easier to use and integrate than ever before. One popular form of Access Control is IP Access Control. But what’s so great about this latest form, and why are so many offices opting for it?
IP Access Control systems are, at their most basic level, very similar to traditional Access Control; they identify users and grant or deny them access to certain entry points according to the permissions and protocols specified in the local server. They usually do this via Ethernet connection to a specific network created for the access control system.
IP Access Control are different from traditional access control systems, however, in that they are connected directly to your existing Local Area Network (LAN) and get power over Ethernet. This makes them easier and simpler to set up and allows them to track all data necessary for controlling and monitoring access points and locks.
IP Access Control can be accessed from any computer on the network as opposed to traditional access control, which can only be managed from the server itself.
Types Of IP Access Control
IP Access Control systems can be one of a few different types and can even use more than one in a single system.
The most common form is Embedded IP Access, which is an inexpensive, quick, easy-to-install solution for operating a low number of doors and access points. Embedded IP Access stores credentials and data on a single control panel, which is directly connected to the browser, and are usually hosted on a single site.
Server-based IP Access can operate more access points and websites than Embedded IP Access, allowing for more scalability and more advanced security. It stores all the necessary information on the server, which manages multiple control panels, and is linked to the by the browser.
The third type, Hosted IP Access, on the other hand, can control and access thousands of websites in various locations, with multiple control panels. It features its own backups and security features on its own server, with redundant and dispersed backups. Hosted IP Access allows for the greatest scalability of all IP Access systems, and the most security and effective backups
Switching to an IP-based Access Control system can simplify your business’ security procedures, allow for more flexibility in the future, and save your business a significant amount of money. If you have questions about access control or just want to learn more, Safe and Sound can help. Give us a call today.
Telephone Entry Systems
Most telephone entry systems work simply: by communicating via phone line and allowing visitors outside to speak with people inside the building. In such cases, the entry system simply uses the existing phone line already running within the interior of the building and the property. Some newer systems now use IP networks to communicate, as well; these are not telephone entry systems in the strictest or most traditional sense but function much the same. Many modern systems also offer the benefit of remote communication, allowing you to speak with visitors on your phone (or similar) even when away from the building.
1. Increase Security
Telephone entry system’s simple operation doesn’t mean they aren’t secure. In fact, the increased security they offer is perhaps their biggest asset. They allow you to quickly and easily communicate with people at your business’s front or back door, and instantly give them access or not, gives you complete control over security, keeping unwanted visitors out while still letting the right people in. Secure entrances mean a safe workplace.
Compare this with an unsecured or unlocked door. Anybody who feels like it can just waltz right in to an unsecured door. A good access control and telephone entry system solves that problem.
This goes hand in hand with their increased security and simplicity. A telephone entry system is so quick and easy to use, you can see who is waiting at the entrance and let them in – or not – within minutes. No need for anyone to physically walk to the door and open it or lock it; simply press a button and it does it automatically. With modern systems, they can even be accessed and controlled remotely, letting you open the door or speak to a guest from virtually anywhere.
4. Can Work With Video Too
While in most cases, a telephone entry system with intercom will be enough on its own, in many cases the system can be integrated with video surveillance to give you a live feed and view of who’s at the door. This takes the convenience of a telephone entry system to the next level, making your building access control and security easier and more effective than ever before.
Biometric Fingerprint Scanners
Biometric scanners are the next big thing in the security business, and it makes sense. Looking at access control technologies, the biggest hurdle isn’t finding new and innovative ways to lock doors – it’s finding more secure ways to authenticate identity. PINs can be discovered, cards can be copied, and keys can be pickpocketed. No security system is perfect, but when it comes to identity verification, a biometric scanners identification factors are hard to forge.
Biometrics literally means “the measuring of the living” – basically, body parts. Humans can do this quite easily, but since teaching a computer to recognize a person is not easy, it’s broken down into manageable chunks. While computers can be programmed to recognize retinas, voices and even faces, some of the most common biometric scanners are designed for fingerprints.
Types Of Biometric Fingerprint Scanners
There are three main types of biometric scanners: Optical, Capacitive, and Ultrasonic. All three measure the ridges of a fingerprint as well as any scars or other marks to map out the print and compare it against a database.
Optical scanners use the same type of image sensor found in a digital camera to render a 2-dimensional image of a print. While physically fairly robust, this type of sensor is the easiest to trick with prosthetics or even high-resolution images of a fingerprint.
Capacitive sensors use the minute differences in print ridges and valleys as electronic contact points to derive a map.
Ultrasonic scanners bounce a precisely calibrated sonic pulse against a fingertip and, rather than mapping the fingerprint itself, map the return echo and use that data to derive the shape of the print. This is the most precise but most fragile type of scanner on the market right now.
Once the scanner has mapped your fingerprint, it’s converted to a Wiegand number and sent to the controller for verification against the approved whitelist.
How Biometric Fingerprint Scanners Work
Almost every access control system recognizes Wiegand numbers for transferring your credentials to the security panel for verification. This practice originated in the 70’s, when keycards were embedded with special magnetic wires invented by John Wiegand. The arrangement of these wires created a specific number sequence that identified the card.
This number sequence is still used today by access control systems. Fingerprint scanners use an algorithm to convert the optical, capacitive, or ultrasonic map of your fingerprint into a unique Wiegand number. The panel can then read your fingerprint identity just like it used to read keycards.
How to Choose Wireless Access Locks For Your Business
Access Control Systems are popular mainly for two reasons: convenience and because they can do many things that traditional lock-and-keys can’t. By convenience, we mean the ability to quickly unlock doors with the swipe of a card, push of a badge, or click of a smartphone app. And in terms of doing things that regular mechanical door locks can’t, we mean the sheer amount of customization and flexibility that access control systems offer for configuring and managing who can go where and when.
These points go twice for installing a wireless access control system, providing you’ve picked the right locks. But how do you know what locks your system needs? Here’s a few points to keep in mind. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
What Kind Of Credentials Will Work Best?
This is generally one of the first considerations to make in selecting wireless access control locks: what kind of credential are you looking to use? If you have a lot of turnover or lots of guests and contractors onsite, smart cards or prox cards are likely the best choice; credentials that can be easily and cheaply coded and reprogrammed as people come and go. You might also want to look at mobile credentials, which simply lets users download an app and set up a credential profile that is then whitelisted and given appropriate permissions by the systems administrator – no additional keycards or effort necessary.
PIN codes and biometrics are also common choices, usually best used in systems with fewer visitors and tighter security needs.
Do You Need Intercom Or Video Options?
Intercom option locks are becoming popular as part of access control systems, both for commercial operations and private areas. Video intercom-capable access locks are found on front gates, automatic garage door openers and apartment buildings in particular. Being able to communicate with visitors and contractors directly at the access point – and even just with employees who do not have or have lost their credentials – makes managing access simpler and easier.Video also provides visual identity verification before access is granted.
What Else Needs To Be Protected?
Wireless access control locks can often be used for more than just doors; gates, elevators, windows and similar can all be controlled via wireless access control, creating an all-in-one system that can be controlled in a single unified spot. If permissions allow, all these access points can be controlled with a single credential – of your choice – simplifying access and operations and increasing convenience. Systems integrators can help you find liftgate openers and elevator lock systems that your system might need.
Do You Want Remote Access And Cloud Management?
Almost all wireless access control locks and systems are compatible with or include cloud connection and remote access features; locks can be locked, unlocked and barred remotely straight from your smartphone,while system databases and whitelists can also be accessed and modified, revoking or creating credentials on the spot. If this is an important consideration for your security needs, there are a wide variety of different locks to choose from, such as Brivo OnAir.
Mobile Access Control
An electronic door lock is a critical part of your commercial access control system. Your card readers or fingerprint scanners aren’t worth much if your doors don’t unlock when your credentials are approved. Your locks need to be wired into your entry system so you can control them without a mechanical key – and that means more than automatically unlocking them. You need to be able to lock them down in the event of a security breach, unlock all of them during a fire or earthquake, and you want to keep a log of when they were opened.
We can now do just about everything with our smartphones, so it seems only fitting that they can now be used as credentials for access control systems. Mobile access control credentials provide an easy, convenient and cost-efficient alternative to access cards and biometric credentials. They simply utilize the device the user already carries with them, and considering how ubiquitous smartphones already are, make access control accessible to virtually everyone. They also provide a range of features that traditional access control options simply do not, and work with access control systems of all different sizes and configurations.
How Mobile Credentials For Access Control Work
Mobile access control credentials allow users to access facilities with nothing more than an app on their smart phone, tablet or even smartwatch. Almost all mobile access control systems are compatible with iPhone and Android, the most popular smartphone operating systems, and many will work with lesser-known platforms as well. They can function through a variety of technologies, such as:
Mobile Access Control systems use Bluetooth to communicate between the smartphone (or other device) as well as the credential reader. They often do this through Bluetooth Low Energy. Bluetooth Low Energy uses much less power and data than regular Bluetooth and can stay on in the background and immediately initialize when within range of the access control reader (usually a few feet), transferring signals and information instantaneously. To unlock the door, you can simply press a button on the appropriate app, or even unlock using a twisting motion of your phone that imitates a key turning and unlocks the door.
Near-Field Communication allows users to set up connection between the reader and the smartphone, using induction of electromagnetic fields. Phones will usually need to be within very close range (often a few inches) of the reader, and not all phones are compatible with NFC technology and software. This is the same technology in mobile payment method as well, such as Apple Pay.
Many systems now use Wi-Fi as well, as it provides a simple method of connection using an IP-based network. Wireless-enabled door locks are connected to the wireless access point via the IP network, and can be configured in an entire network of access points and door locks. They are then controlled via a software on a computer or server, or via mobile app on smart devices. In some cases, Wi-Fi network connections also allow for remote access with increased range, as the smartphone only needs an internet connection to establish credentials when necessary.
Some mobile access control systems even work with QR codes, with readers that simply scan the QR code provided on the smartphone to unlock the door. This is perhaps the easiest and most accessible form of mobile credential available. Each QR code is uniquely generated by the software to guarantee security.
Sharing And Receiving Access Credentials
Sharing credentials with users is easy with mobile access control and can be done either via integrated access control apps, or via email and text message. Access credentials and bar codes can simply be sent to the employee, who will pull it up on their phone and swipe it at the access point.
Access control systems with mobile credentials usually work with a variety of different credentials. They’ll usually have a backup method of accessing the system, in case mobile passes do not work, such as with a backup access card or key.
Smart Phone App for Access Control
Mobile credentials are useful not just for their convenience, but also for the many features often found in the app or software, integrating a host of other security features. For system administrators, these include remote viewing of video footage at access points, accessing activity logs, and quick changing and customization of access permissions. They can even lock and unlock doors remotely on demand. Users can customize the app to organize their passes and credentials how they need them most, placing all the credentials in one easy-to-access place.
Server-Based vs Cloud-Based Smart Phone Access Control
Mobile credentials work for businesses and facilities of all sizes. Server-based mobile systems are more expensive to setup and install up-front than regular access control systems, but can provide increased cost savings over time, as it eliminates the need for creating, updating and replacing physical access cards. Thus, they may be out of the reach of smaller businesses but can be a convenient improvement for medium- and larger-size companies with the budget needed to install them. Cloud-based mobile access systems, on the other hand, are significantly less expensive to install and use over time. People are also less likely to lose their mobile phones, as opposed to smaller, generic access cards.
5 Common Myths About Wireless Access Control Systems
Access control might be one of the hottest topics in the security industry, but for that reason, it’s also one of the most misunderstood. Choosing the right burglar is almost simple compared to an access control system, and there’s a host of myths and misconceptions about access control specifically wireless access control floating about – myths that might hold business owners and building managers from getting the right access control for their premises.
Most myths surrounding access control deal with wireless access control systems, cloud-based systems and mobile credentials. All are easily debunked. Here’s the truth behind some of the most common myths about access control.
Myth 1: Mobile Access Control Apps And Credentials Aren’t Secure
At first, this one sounds like it makes sense; if your smartphone is accessible via an Internet connection and can already be hacked, couldn’t someone just hack your phone, gain access to your access control apps and credentials and then make their way into your facility. Thankfully, this isn’t as much of a concern as it sounds.
Smartphones already come with high levels of encryption and security built in to their firmware; millions of users trust them everyday to safeguard all their personal data and banking info, and smartphones aren’t easily hacked just because of their ability to access the internet. The phone’s security measures are, of course, in addition to the security measures and encryption integrated into the mobile access control application, and together they provide a secure, multi-layered defense against hacking. While accessing an access control system remotely does not require a VPN, like a hosted system might, it often
In fact, you could say mobile credentials are often more secure than their physical counterparts; swipe and prox cards simply do not support the level of encryption that a smartphone and app can and switching to mobile access credentials could lead to increased security for your business.
Myth 2: Cloud-Based Access Control Systems And Mobile Credentials Are Difficult To Manage
Honestly, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Cloud-based access control systems, especially those with mobile apps and credential options, are often much easier to manage, setup and modify credentials, etc, than traditional systems.
As the access control database and pertinent information is hosted on the cloud, it can often be accessed remotely from anywhere, right on your mobile device or computer; you’ll be able to manage, create and revoke credentials, change permissions and rules for controlled doors and users, and customize system settings remotely and easily. Most of the time, all of this can be done right in your browser.
Traditional wired or IP access control systems, on the other hand, generally need to be managed and access from a computer on the server network, limiting when and where you can access it.
Myth 3: Wireless Access Control Systems Are Not Compatible With Traditional Wired Access Control Systems
Many people believe that wireless access control components will not integrate and work with their existing wired system, and that installing new wireless components or systems will require replacing any pre-existing system.
Thankfully this isn’t true; with the right components, wireless access control systems can be integrated with the system already installed in your building. In most cases, they will even be built upon the existing framework, and in many others, wireless access control can be even further integrated with a pre-existing CCTV system running on the same network.
Integrating wired and wireless access control is quite easy; ensuring component compatibility (using the ONVIF standard, for example) will make the process even easier, and the right systems integrator will have the skills and experience to make it happen.
Myth 4: Wireless Access Control Panels Don’t Support Multiple Credentials
Again, this is not true; what credentials an access control system does or does not work with is dependent on the specific panel installed – not whether the system is wired or wireless. With the right panel and software, your wireless access control system can work with PIN codes, fingerprints and biometric credentials, swipe and prox cards, in addition to wireless smartphone credentials. Many panels will now also support two-factor authentication, giving twice the security with the same number of panels. This eliminates any worry surrounding
If you’re spending a lot of time ordering, creating and managing prox cards and permissions for a large facility, making the switch to a wireless panel could simplify the process, saving you tons of time – and money.
Myth 5: Wireless Panels Need To Have Their Batteries Replaced Often
A seemingly small complaint, but one that could be particularly irksome – if it were true. While many wireless access control panels run off battery power, they also don’t run all the time; many are in a “sleep” mode until awoken, or until wireless credentials comes within range. This means they spend the majority of their time powered down, don’t use nearly as much energy as a wired system, and only occasionally need their batteries replaced; some brands even claim their panels can last up to two years on a single high-end, lithium-ion battery.
Cloud Based Access Control vs Server Based Access Control
Access control systems are a critical part of keeping your business secure. They prevent unauthorized entry to key points of your building and log traffic, allowing you to stay updated on anomalies or potential threats. Whether you use biometric fingerprint scanners, card readers, PIN codes, RFID key fobs, or your smartphone, you need to manage your database through a network connection. There are two main types of access control system networks to choose between these days – server based and cloud based access control.
On-site servers are the traditional way to handle access control systems. A server (or servers) and door controller are installed somewhere on your premises, usually requiring a dedicated room and terminal. When someone runs their credentials through one of your readers, the door controller receives the ID and the server compares it to the database of approved IDs (known as a whitelist). You can only manage your server through its dedicated terminal, making it very secure.
Installation & Maintenance
The drawbacks to server-based systems are the high cost and invasive installation. Servers are costly to purchase and set up, and since you don’t want wires exposed, the installation to hide them can be difficult if your building is already built or used. All servers require constant updates to keep up with security breaches or new OS features, so you’ll probably need a dedicated on-site team of technicians to ensure your server doesn’t crash the next time your machine needs an update.
Cloud Based Access Control
Some newer access control systems store your whitelist and manage your door controls on the cloud. Instead of your readers sending credentials through a wire to your server, they’re compared on your security provider’s cloud hosting server. Because your system is Web-based, you can access and manage your whitelist from anywhere as long as you have a cellular or wireless device. This is just one advantage of cloud based access control.
Installation & Maintenance
Since you don’t need an on-site server, the initial cost is lower and the installation is a little less invasive. Cloud-based systems still require a control panel that communicates with your router, though, so some installation is still required. You also won’t need to employ in-house technicians to update your server. However, you will be paying for a cloud subscription and you won’t have as much control over your data as you would with your own server.
You can’t talk about cloud based access control without mentioning Brivo. Brivo is the national leader in the cloud-based access control field. The interface is easy to use and will even let you use your smartphone as your credentials with Brivo OnAir. For more information about Brivo’s services, check out our blog post featuring their system.
Choosing The Right System
If you prefer a server-based system, you value reliability and detailed control over the ability to access your database from off-site. You’ll need a dedicated server room and an IT team to keep your access control system online, but you’ll own the whole system outright and won’t be at the mercy of someone else’s server.
If you decide to go with a cloud-based access control system, you’re choosing the versatility of remote access over the reliability of a hardwired system. You might have to pay a continuous fee for your network, but it’s a lot cheaper than employing technicians and maintaining a server room.
5 Common Myths About Cloud Access Control
Cloud-Based access control systems have quickly supplanted “on-premise control” access control systems as the most feature-rich and capable of access control systems. Here are some of the most common myths and misconceptions about cloud access control and the truth behind them:
Myth 1: Only Works When Connected To The Internet
This is a common myth about access control that many people believe, but it’s an outdated and inaccurate statement. It’s true that the control panel needs to be connected to the internet in order to conduct administrative tasks like adding users and credentials or configuring schedules and permissions, but most worthwhile systems now come with integrated memory in the door controllers.
This way, the system can handle on-site tasks like accessing whitelists, permissions, user credentials, and door information as needed. This means if the internet is disconnected, the card reader can still authenticate a credential.
Brivo OnAir offers a system that can host information for up to 250,000 users in the built-in memory and record up to 60,000 events offline, for detailed records of everything that occurs.
Myth 2: Not As Safe As Network Systems
Cloud service providers take all the necessary precautions to secure their systems from hacking and tampering, as well as ample measures to back-up all important data. True cloud systems use redundant backups, located in different and varying locations. If one server goes – due to technical difficulties, natural disasters, or hacking – the system will simply connect with another server, working seamlessly the entire time and without a hitch.
Brivo, the most popular cloud-based access control company uses AES 256 encryption algorithms. These are similar to what’s used in government and banking. They use a 4096 bit key length which creates very strong security strength. There’s no reason to be worried about security when using cloud access control if you choose the right cloud-based access control provider.
Myth 3: More Expensive Than Server-Based Access Control
Using a cloud-based access control system can actually save you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. The most substantial savings come from the complete elimination of costs to run and maintain servers on network-based systems.
Instead of paying for physical server equipment and hosting, as well as paying for a technician to maintain those servers regularly, you simply sign up for a subscription from the cloud service. The cloud service then handles all the repairs, maintenance, and upkeep of the servers on their end. This is usually a much more cost effective way to have an access control system.
Second, switching to a cloud-based system eliminates licensing fees. With network systems, a license must be purchased – usually in packages or increments – to run the system, and these licenses must often be renewed at certain intervals. With cloud-based systems, doors can be purchased one at a time, allowing you to pay for what you use, and are rolled into a monthly or yearly subscription.
Myth 4: All Cloud Access Companies Are Created Equal
Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Some brands and access control systems are a lot better than the competition, in terms of features, security, and sheer capability. Network systems retrofitted for cloud service, for example, generally lack the redundancy and diverse servers that true cloud systems include.
The best cloud access systems from brands like Brivo offer redundant backups and servers – and a host of useful features such as APIS – for connecting and customizing with other programs and devices, and automatic software updates that many systems don’t offer.
Myth 5: Cloud-Based And Network-Based Are The Same Thing
They may accomplish the same things, but cloud-based and network-based access control systems work very differently. Network access control systems run off a self-contained network, where all the data and door information is stored on the network’s physical server. Cloud-based systems use controllers connected directly to the internet, where all needed data is stored on a remote server.
Where people sometimes get confused is in the fact that hybrid cloud-network systems exist. This allows you to have the flexibility and scalability, as well as redundancy of cloud systems while also having some of the reliability of network systems.
Commercial Entry Systems
How AIPhone Video Intercoms Bring Business Security To The Next Level
When it comes to intercoms and telephone entry systems, few brands are as on top of their game as AIPhone. Known for their comprehensive gate entry systems that combine the best of intercoms and video security systems to create all-in-one answering and video access control solutions. Here are some of the main draws of a good AIPhone system, and how they enhance your business’s security efforts.
Traditional and more old-fashioned intercoms generally employ telephone or audio connections, but AIPhone’s new intercoms – like the JP Series 7” – incorporate touchscreen video right into the intercom control placed. Placed at the front door of your business or apartment building, or at your property’s gate, this allows you to easily see and verify who’s at the front gate, or at any of four camera locations throughout the property. You’re not limited to one viewing station, either; each system allows for a variety of different viewing locations inside, allowing you or other staff members to easily check the front door.
The video is provided by a built-in PTZ camera, which features a 170-degree wide angle lens – wide enough to virtually eliminate all blind spots and give you a complete view of everything around you. The camera even includes settings for adjusting to different lighting situations.
Live video feed isn’t the only way to view video feeds from AIPhone; their Picture Memory feature allows you to record images and stills of visitors from the video feed and store them on both SD and SDHC cards. This allows you to see who rang the doorbell at a later date and keep a record of everybody who visits for future reference.
Video is great, but it’s not the only way of communicating with visitors outside the building. AIPhone intercom systems also allow for hands-free communication, using headsets as well as their VOX technology. VOX essentially leaves the built-in microphone on at all times but is programmed to only transmit audio inside when voices above a certain programmed level are detected. No need to hold down the call button or press to answer – visitors simply speak and you speak back.
AIPhone’s Call Partitioning also allows you to choose which interior stations calls go to, from which doors these calls come, and have complete control over all incoming and outgoing communications.
Versatile System Integration
If you run a large business or facility, you need to cover a lot of doors and entrances – if only because of the sheer number that your building might contain. AIPhone knows this and designed some of their video intercom systems for scalability, and to work with a massive amount of door stations – up to 120, with the right system. Smaller systems with more advanced video capabilities will still be capable of working up to 8 door stations, more than enough to cover most smaller businesses and buildings.
This is due to their IP network functionality. Many AIPhone systems also run off Power-over-Ethernet, allowing you to use a single Cat5 or Cat6 cable to both power the system and feed the network signals, saving on installation time and costs. And if you formally stationed a guard at various doors and entrances throughout the building, switching to a video intercom can cut down significantly on costs, too.
3 Ways Automatic Gate Openers Like LiftMaster Help With Security
Automatic door openers might be more closely associated with your home garage than with commercial security, but they play an integral role in access control too. Both commercial and residential properties need to be secured at all angles and entrances, and front vehicle gates and garage-style overhead doors call for special forms of security. That’s where commercial door and gate access control systems can make securing large gates and garages easy – especially when integrated with your business’s existing access control system. Here’s how.
1. Easy To Use
One of the primary benefits of access control is ease-of-use and convenience. There is no need to carry keys, and employees can simply swipe their badge or type in the appreciate PIN code to unlock the door. Commercial door openers work the same way, in this case for opening garage doors or gates. Personnel must simply swipe their card or enter their credentials, and the door – whether it’s a garage-style lift door at your warehouse loading docks, or front gate – will swing open, allowing them to enter unrestricted. In most cases, visitors don’t need to get out of their cars.
2. Do Everything Access Control Systems Do – And More
Commercial door openers aren’t like your typical home garage door opener; they’re powerful, fully capable systems that can be integrated with your current access control system or set up all on their own. You can set them up with a keypad, card reader with swipe or proximity cards, or remote-control reader, just like any other commercial access control system, allowing you to choose the system that works best for your business. Old-fashioned intercom and keypad systems are still a possibility, too.
Commercial door openers, like those from LiftMaster, are cloud-connected, too, allowing you remote access for everything from remote viewing and monitoring, to changing settings and permissions, just like any other access control system. LiftMaster Cloud Smart Access Control can also send text and email alerts and allow you to see whomever comes and goes throughout the property – giving you easy and complete control over your system. If a suspended code or credential (from a former employee, for example) is used, an instant alert will let you know.
And – you can do all this from your smartphone or computer. Liftmaster Cloud works over WiFi, Cellular, wired connections and even DSL.
Liftmaster commercial gate and door access control systems come with some extended features not found on everyday access control systems, too. These include touchscreen access control systems allowing visitors to easily call from a list of contacts over secure VoIP to verify identity, in addition to real-time alerts.
3. Convenient And Reliable
Wireless access control systems are very popular right now, thanks to their convenience and lower cost for installation and maintenance. Commercial door opener systems such as Liftmaster make the most of wireless technology, with the access control panel and door opener capable of connecting via both WiFi and their own wireless link technology. This saves on installation costs and time, ensuring you don’t have to run expensive and complicated wiring through walls or underneath driveways.
Liftmaster even includes Local System Memory, which ensures smooth entry and exit even when the internet connection goes down.
The Bottom Line
Commercial gate and doors openers from LiftMaster are convenient, dependable forms of access control, that make securing both front gates and overheard-style lift doors both easy and possible. If you’re looking to secure your business or residential property properly, they’re integral parts of the setup.
Why Brivo OnAir is the Best Cloud-Based Access Control
If you’ve been following the security industry or you’re looking to install an access control system of your own, you’re probably aware of the developing industry for cloud-based access control management platforms. These allow you to use your various access control and security systems (door unlocking, video recording, and visitor tracking) from any web-connected device. They’re an indispensable tool for any business, and there’s not a better one on the market right now than Brivo Cloud-Based Access Control.
With Brivo, you don’t have to deal with door controllers at all. Brivo uses the cloud to communicate with your panel and verify your credentials without the hassles inherent to server-based systems. Instead, you use a modern interface for any number of doors with options to lock or unlock the doors, add or remove credentials from your whitelist, and much more through a secure web connection.
Intuitive User Interface
Brivo’s user interface is intuitive, uncluttered, and functional. From the main page you’ll be able to set schedules, groups, and access for your employees or guests. At a glance, you’ll know where you are, where you’re going, and how to get there, whether you’re checking in on your system or revamping your white-list.
Brivo’s web portal isn’t picky – it’s just as versatile accessed from a smartphone or tablet as from a full desktop. It’s one of the cloud conveniences you’ll come to rely on when managing your access control system.
Want to get rid of keycards? Pair the Brivo Onair app with your account and you can use your smartphone to access your building – unlock your doors with a simple button. It’s the same NFC-antenna technology behind your phone’s tap and pay feature, and it’s just as secure.
Brivo has the same encryption standards as server-based access control, but because your account is on the cloud you can manage the software from any web browser without compromising that security. Your server knows exactly how to talk to the Brivo cloud, but the signal never goes from the cloud to your server, so the connection can’t be hacked. This encryption is also standard for online banking and shopping, so your access control system is protected by the same protocols you already trust.
Manage Multiple Properties
Brivo’s cloud-based access control management system is a single point of contact for any number of secured facilities. It can manage a suite of warehouses or apartment floors just as easily as a single unit, all from the same web interface. No matter the scale you’re dealing with, Brivo simplifies your process, and the habits you form with the interface translate smoothly between multiple access control systems even if they use different authenticators.
Customized Security Reporting
With your security cameras integrated into Brivo, you can tether real-time video feed to your activity log so you can literally see who’s accessing your building. With additional customization options for security reports – frequency, content, sources, and delivery – Brivo is the most versatile tool in your security systems arsenal.