You’ve seen it before – empty guarantees of a door access control system that will save your business time and make you more efficient. But top-tiered physical security doesn’t just grow on trees.  

In this article, we’ll break down the features you should look for in a top door access security system for your business and explore some options to improve your security.  

Where to Start 

Whether you’re operating an enterprise or a small business, it takes work to find the right fit for your building. And that’s the keyword: fit

Do a Google search for “the best access control system,” and you’ll surely find the phrase “best access control” mentioned at least once on every major security provider’s website. “The best” is a misnomer. What you need to determine is which access control is best for my needs.  

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s take a look at where to start.  

Door access control must do five essential things. It must:  

  1. Protect people, data and facilities 
  1. Grant access to employees and visitors 
  1. Monitor foot traffic in and around the premises 
  1. Provide actionable data for improved security 
  1. Prevent unauthorized access events from occurring 

So how do you ensure an access control system will help your business accomplish these? Five broad categories can be used to measure an access control system.  

Overview of a Door Access Control System 

  1. System Type 
  1. Credential Type 
  1. Door Locks 
  1. Feature Sets 
  1. API Integrations 

With this checklist in mind, let’s explore a bit further.  

Two Choices for Access Control Systems 

The first thing to determine is the type of physical access control solution you need.  As you might already know, two types of systems exist: on-prem and cloud-based access control. Genea has discussed the similarities and differences between these extensively and an in-depth analysis can be read in our blog.  

Generally, there are a couple key differences between cloud and on-prem security. 

Types of Access Control Systems 

  • On-prem access control is costly as it requires regular maintenance. It can also be less secure since data is housed on site. For enterprise businesses, scaling on-premises access control systems is difficult.  
  • Cloud-based systems are housed off site and maintained by a third-party (like AWS), which makes scaling easier. Remote access may also be granted using these systems.  

Cloud-based access control is becoming the new norm for enterprises, schools, commercial real estate, healthcare facilities and more. The remote access options and ability to add new features are just a couple of benefits.  

Non-proprietary or Proprietary Access Control? 

A major expense when installing a new security system is its hardware. Broadly, access control hardware gets divided into two categories: non-proprietary and proprietary.  

Non-proprietary access control systems, like Genea’s Mercury-based platform, offer advantages in flexibility and interoperability. They often support open standards, allowing integration with a variety of devices and third-party solutions as well. This flexibility facilitates customization and scalability, reducing dependency on a single vendor.  

On the other hand, proprietary access control systems provide seamless integration with the manufacturer’s associated hardware. For example, a proprietary camera system may seamlessly integrate with its proprietary access control counterpart. Though vendor support may be more straightforward than with non-proprietary systems, significant drawbacks exist. These disadvantages include higher costs, limited flexibility and potential vendor lock-in, restricting the adoption of emerging technologies or competing products. 

Access Control Credentials for Businesses 

After selecting a type of physical access control system, it’s important to decide the type of credentials you plan on using.  Some business environments call for multiple types of credentials. Often, multiple credentials are used to either give users an option or for two-factor authentication (2FA). Access control systems compatible with multiple credential types make it easier to adjust to changing technology. 

Types of Access Control Credentials 

  • Mobile phones- Mobile access control is currently a popular choice among business owners. With the prevalence of mobile technology, smartphones can now serve as virtual keys. Mobile credentials are often used with Bluetooth or NFC technology, allowing for seamless and contactless access. Some access control providers offer integrations with Google and Apple Wallet. These integrations give users the ability to store digital copies of their badges alongside other digital documents like IDs, credit and debit cards.  Mobile options are also more secure as users are not likely to share their mobile device with others.  
  • Key Cards and Key Fobs- Commonly used in access control systems, key cards and fobs contain encrypted information that is read by card readers or proximity sensors. They offer convenience and can be easily deactivated or reissued. The disadvantage of these physical credentials is that they can be easily misplaced or cloned.   
  • Biometrics- Leveraging unique physiological characteristics such as fingerprints, retina scans, or facial recognition, biometric access control ensures a high level of security by directly linking physical attributes to an individual. 
  • Proximity Cards- Similar to key cards, proximity cards use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to grant access. They only require proximity to the card reader (as opposed to being placed in the reader), making them efficient and user-friendly. 

Successful adoption of access credentials relies heavily on user “buy in.” Newer technologies like mobile and biometric credentials often garner some skeptics when it comes to privacy. Property owners and managers should take time to educate their workforces about the safety of these advanced credentials.  

See how Shopify implemented mobile credentials in Apple Wallet for their 12,000-person workforce

Door Access Control Systems

Choosing the Right Door Locks 

Credentials are only half of the equation when it comes to door access control hardware. Businesses must also consider which door locks they should use. These fall into two categories: magnetic door locks and electronic strike door locks

Magnetic locks (maglocks) are known as fail-safe locks and require power to keep the door locked. Strike locks, on the other hand, are fail-secure and require power to unlock the door.  

The Benefits of an Electric Strike Lock 

An electric strike can be triggered when a credential comes into contact with a credential reader like a card reader, keypad or wireless sensor. Once the interaction takes place, the door will unlock.  

Generally, electric strike locks are more affordable and offer greater security during power outages. There are several options including wireless locks, smart locks and others. 

The Benefits of Magnetic Locks 

Magnetic locks contain multiple components, including an electromagnet (often attached to the doorframe) and a metal armature plate (often on the door). While an electric current flows through the magnet, the door will stay locked. However, if the flow of power stops, such as in a power outage, then the door will unlock.  

Benefits of these locks include strength and ease of installation.  

When considering which lock to install, security teams can use the following checklist: 

  • Door location– Where will these locks need to be installed? Are there any obstacles (e.g., door material, building restrictions, etc.) that might interfere with the installation? 
  • Budget– How many doors will need locks? What is your budget for door locks? 
  • Door use frequency– How often do people need access? 
  • Scalability– Will you need to expand your system’s reach in the future? 

Businesses should work with professional security integrators to determine the appropriate locks for their facilities. To read more about locks, visit our complete guide to door locks.  

Most Important Access Control Features  

Some of the more exciting components of a security system are its features. Features range from Interactive Floor Plans to Custom Reporting. Once again, it’s important to determine what your objectives are before deciding upon an access control system. For some businesses, obtaining foot traffic data with custom reporting features is important, others need robust emergency planning. Here is a list of features to consider when shopping: 

  • Custom Reporting– The ability to curate and share specific foot traffic data in .PDF reports.  
  • Audible Alerts– Set alerts and get notified any time someone accesses your facility. 
  • Interactive Floor Plans– Map cameras and access points on a CAD floor plan.  
  • Emergency Plans– Create automated lockdown plans for any emergency situation.  
  • Global Dashboards– View access activity across multiple locations of your enterprise in one unified dashboard.  
  • Remote Access Control– Access and provision credentials from anywhere there’s an internet connection, whether at your headquarters, a branch location or off site.  

Access control features often vary between providers. The largest differences can be seen between on-premises access control and cloud-based providers. For more information about cloud-based and on-prem security, read our blog.  

Unified, Single Pane of Glass Security with API Integrations 

One of the major benefits of cloud-based, door access control is its ability to seamlessly integrate multiple systems. Security teams can use API integrations to connect disparate systems like visitor management, video surveillance, chat systems and more. By connecting these platforms, security administrators gain a holistic view of their security from one dashboard. As a result, teams can save time and drive efficiency.  

Types of API Integrations for Access Control Security  

  • Video Management (Cisco Meraki, Milestone Kite, Rhombus Systems, Avigilon Alta) 
  • Chat Systems (Microsoft Teams, Slack) 
  • Identity Management (Okta, Azure AD, Google Workplace) 
  • Visitor Management 
  • Parking Management  
  • Elevators 
  • IoT Sensors  

Some providers charge extra for API integrations, others like Genea do not. Make sure to ask about which out-of-the-box integrations are available and what the costs are when shopping for an access control system.  

Single Pane of Glass Security 

Security is constantly changing. Just as cloud-based access control has replaced on-premises systems, “single pane of glass” security is making its way to the forefront of the industry. “Single pane of glass” security refers to a unified and streamlined approach to managing and monitoring access across diverse systems within an organization. This concept provides a singular interface, consolidating access control functions for various applications and integrations. By centralizing control, administrators gain a comprehensive view, simplifying user management and security enforcement. This not only enhances operational efficiency but also strengthens security protocols. The single pane of glass approach empowers organizations to enforce consistent access policies and promptly respond to security incidents. 

See how Genea can help you implement a robust single pane of glass solution. Speak with one of our representatives today! 

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