Access Control Guide

What are Access Control Systems?

Do you want to keep your building or suite secure and audit-ready at all times? Access control systems are a great way to improve your security and keep careful tabs on activity within your building.

Access control systems are electronic systems that provide automated security checkpoints within physical locations, such as doors and gates. By automating checkpoints, access control systems reduce the need for security personnel within an operation. 

Cloud-based, non-proprietary access control systems are a better choice than on-premises access control for several reasons. Not only do cloud-based systems offer off-site credentialing and monitoring, but they also provide great flexibility when choosing software. Cloud-based systems offer greater variety and quicker installation with seamless API integrations. Integrating your most important software tools, gives you the power to control everything from a single pane of glass.

In this article, we’ll cover access control fundamentals, as well as the many uses for this security technology. 

Let’s explore access control by covering the following points: 

  • Why is Access Control Important?
  • Access Control Applications and Features
  • How Does Access Control Work?
  • The Key Components of an Access Control System
  • Choosing the Right Access Control System

Why are Access Control Systems Important?

Access control increases security in your operation while also streamlining critical elements, such as compliance protocols, employee access, and visitor management. Let’s review each in more detail.

Increased physical security, safety, and control

Access control systems provide extremely detailed control measures. Not only do these systems dictate who has access to parts of your building, but they regulate the times and conditions within which access is allowed. State-of-the-art access control systems also log credential activity throughout the day.

With software integrations, you can keep detailed records of different access points and employee movements. In a time of crisis, this data will be on hand for your review. 

Streamline security and safety at your location: 

Organized visitor management

In the time of hybrid workplace models, effective visitor management is more critical than ever.  Access control systems allow you to keep track of visitors, issue credentials, and provide access codes for seamless entry into your building. Show off your professionalism with these cutting-edge access control measures. 

Keep visitation operations organized: 

Compliance & credibility 

Whether your business is in a highly regulated industry like finance, or you are an enterprise managing hundreds of locations, compliance is critical. Access control gives you the tools to protect your information, as well as your client’s data. Even more, these systems are critical in avoiding compliance infractions and retaining your organization’s credibility. 

Remain compliant at all times, regardless of the size of your company or property type: 

Fortified IP and data security

Access control systems secure your data against breaches by safeguarding the physical areas where servers, computers, and hard drives are stored. Though cyberattacks are always a threat, you can reinforce your cybersecurity by restricting access to sensitive hardware. Access control for IP and data security is the perfect complement to firewalls and encryption software. 

Protect your data and intellectual property: 

Access control systems provide an audit trail 

Access controls systems are particularly helpful when you need to conduct an audit at your operation. In an emergency situation, like a security breach, you can follow records of events to see exactly where people were in your building at the time of a breach of emergency. Similarly, access control systems allow you to have your operation audit-ready for regulatory agencies. 

Be prepared for an audit: 

No lost or stolen keys

With advanced identification methods, access control management systems eliminate the need for traditional keys. Traditional keys lack what mobile credentials possess: the flexibility and security needed for a robust access control system. Physical credentials are susceptible to damage, theft, and/or becoming lost, ultimately leaving your building vulnerable. They’re far more limited in terms of adaptability, functionality, and integrations.

You can conduct operations without concerns for lost or stolen keys, saving you both time and money with mobile credentials. The latest access control systems utilize keypads, PIN numbers, mobile access, smart cards, and biometric identification in place of traditional keys. 

Streamline access to your building: 

Access Control Applications and Features

Access control systems are applicable in any building. You can customize your access control system for the size and scope of your operation. Even more, you can implement additional features to protect sensitive materials as needed. 

Industry Applications

A wide variety of organizations implement access control systems. Security is a major concern for public organizations, commercial real estate teams, and private businesses. Whether you need to protect sensitive data or simply keep employees out of certain parts of your building, access control systems are essential. 

Access control solutions can be helpful for a variety of organizations and applications, such as:


With so many choices in security technology today, you can design an access control system to maximize the user experience. Even more, cloud-based systems feature API integrations which make customization options endless. 

Common access control system features include, but are not limited to:

  • Ability to set security requirements
  • Restricting access for different areas of facilities 
  • Access management for different employees
  • Remote management via internet or mobile app
  • Integration with video surveillance
  • Ability to receive alerts and notifications for suspicious activity
  • Track and audit user movements
  • Schedule access according to time and day
  • Integrating with notification and visitor management systems

Get the right features for your security needs: 

How Does Access Control Work?

Electronic access control systems have several functions that work in unison to regulate who is allowed to enter areas of your building. These steps are designed to keep your building secure, while also leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to follow in case of an emergency. Let’s review the general tenets of how access control works.

1) Authorization

Authorization is the process of registering employees and visitors into your access control network. Once in your system, these individuals will be granted access to certain parts of the building according to your needs. The authorization step also creates a profile for each person in your network, which you can check in the event of an audit.

2) Authentication

Authentication is when individuals provide credentials to gain access to an area in your building. Authentication credentials include mobile devices, badges, key cards, biometric identification, control panels, door readers, and passcodes.  

3) Access

When your system recognizes an individual’s credentials with equipment such as card readers, the individual is granted access. Doors are unlocked and people are allowed to enter areas where they have the appropriate clearance. 

4) Audit and Manage

Lastly, you must manage and audit your access control system to ensure it is working in top shape. Regular audits will catch potential security threats such as outdated locks or software in need of updates. It may even help identify strange visitor patterns.

The Key Components of an Access Control System

Access control systems have several key components that help regulate your building and keep tabs on people in real-time:

Credentials and readers 

Credentials are presented during the authentication process when people attempt to gain access to parts of your building. Examples of credentials include access cards, badges, smartphones, key fobs, and biometric identification. Mobile credentials often utilize QR codes or cloud-based software to regulate access within a building. 


Every access control system requires a scaffolded and layered infrastructure to function at its fullest capacity. This infrastructure includes computer hardware components, as well as integrations with the rest of your security system. Additionally, computer software and dashboards are used to organize all the data for access control systems. 

Physical access barriers

Physical access barriers are invaluable pieces of any functional access control system. These barriers include doors, door locks, turnstiles, gates, roped-off sections, and more.

Perimeter access control and management

Lastly, perimeter access control safeguards the outside of your building. Primary components of perimeter systems include main gate access, external cameras, and parking garage security. 

Choosing the Right Access Control System

Once you have decided on your security needs, choosing the right access control system is critical in developing a functional security protocol. 

Features and maintenance 

Choosing the right features for your access control system can save you headaches down the road when it comes to upgrades and maintenance. 

Non-proprietary/open-source hardware that is also cloud-based is a better option than proprietary, on-premise hardware. Cloud-based software provides quicker API integrations that unite different aspects of your security and doesn’t commit you to a system that never evolves or upgrades.


In the case of on-premise versus cloud-based access control, cloud-based wins. Every time.

Genea’s cloud-based access control software is compatible with the non-proprietary and widely-used HID and Mercury hardware systems. Additionally, our platform offers the perfect balance of security and convenience with an easy-to-use mobile dashboard. 

Genea provides 24/7/365 customer service, including a direct line to our product team. We take feedback seriously and incorporate your needs into our newest product updates. 

Discover more with Genea:

Genea is trusted by industry-leading enterprises and building teams. See why hundreds of businesses use and trust Genea for their access control systems. 

Contact us today to learn more.

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