Electronic access control can be defined as any system that restricts access based on authority to enter. However, beyond this access control can restrict interaction with a resource. This area could include controlling access to a computer terminal or specific software.
In order to maximise the benefits of your access control system it is important to establish some basic criteria as a starting point for the system design. The first of which is to define the problem and consider if electronic access control is the most appropriate response. Given that the answer is “yes it is”, it is critical to establish the operational requirements (OR) of the system.
- The basic model for an OR is to establish the following information…
- Site Plan – to identify areas of concern.
- Statement of the Problem.
- Stakeholder Liaison.
- Risk Assessment.
- Success Criteria.
- Determine the Technical Solution.
With the OR in place it is then possible to design the most appropriate access control solution taking in to consideration that authorised personnel should not be impeded from their routine activities.
Level two of the OR should establish each portal to be controlled along with specific requirements such as emergency exit, manual override, time zones, alarm conditions and response.
Finally, the response to access control information needs to be considered. Who will monitor it, where from, what training do they need and are there any legal issues associated with discrimination and data protection?
There are many technologies available that validate a user as having the authority to proceed.
- RFID cards and tokens.
- Smart Cards.
- Palm print.
- Iris Scan.
- Facial Recognition.
These “readers” will need to connect to a control device that holds the access data and controls the locking method. The controller needs to be intelligent in its own right and not rely upon connection with a software application running on a remote computer or server. The selection of the door controller is dependent upon the number of people logged on the system, the level of security required and whether the system will be managed either locally or remotely. These elements must be established early in the Operational Requirement to ensure that the system is appropriate and not over engineered.
Door hardware needs to be considered to ensure that a suitable locking and override method is deployed. Access through a door will be granted by either applying or removing power to an electric release mechanism. Where emergency exit is required, the locking device must be fail safe and be wired in series with an emergency release mechanism such as a break-glass unit or a fire-panel relay. Higher security doors that are not emergency exit may be fitted with fail secure locks so that if the power is removed, the door remains locked. The type of electric lock mechanism will depend on the type of door.
The door should be fitted with a sensor so that the access control system can report a range of conditions such as…
- Door secure.
- Door Insecure.
- Door Held Open.
- Door Forced Open.
Great care should be taken when designing any access control system to ensure that the reader and barrier technology can be operated by both able and less able people. It may be necessary to consider reader mounting heights, hands free cards or coded transmitters to overcome discrimination issues.
Access control is just what it says “access control “. It does not necessarily secure a portal because of the risk of someone following an authorised person through or a door being held open. There are techniques to reduce this risk that need to be considered in the system design and overall access control philosophy.
Access control cards can be vulnerable to cyber-attack but more likely lost or abused.