Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes fame knows his security. “The closing of a door can bring blessed privacy and comfort -- the opening, terror,” he once grumbled.
Except for garage door openers and lights, the most employed security devices control doors and entrances. There is single door equipment. Stand-alone electronic door controls. Some are wired or wirelessly networked. And for inside and outdoor entrances, there’s a variety of gear.
Single-door, stand-alone access control devices are actually far less complicated than the elaborate industry parlance describing them. Non-computerized and key or membrane pad-based, they provide protection when a lock and key is not enough but more heavy-duty security measures are not mandated.
On another level, door systems are computerized, but still battery-powered and not networked. Nevertheless, they are “intelligent” systems. Programmable via a PC or PDA or through the door device itself, these stand-alones can be scheduled to lock, unlock and relock at times of day. They also can be cued to accept or reject electronic credentials, such as magnetic stripe cards and proximity cards, for example.
The mechanical stand-alone offers a convenient way to control access between public and private areas. There are no keys or cards to manage, no computers to program, no batteries to replace and combinations can be changed in seconds without removing the lock. The major disadvantage is the fact that there’s no audit trail allowing a review of who’s come in and out of a protected space. For that you need a software program.
Typically an online system would allow for more users than a stand-alone. While online systems are programmed with an internal database population, they also allow you to expand that database from without.
For network-based access control systems, there are some basics.
Number of users -- The number of users determines which control panel will be capable of supporting the requirements. It is important to consider all of the users – not just those who work in the building every day, but also those employees who may need regular access. Every access control system should be designed for future use. It is standard to plan for a minimum of 20 percent expansion for the future.
Entry portals (doors) – A thorough inspection of the existing doors is essential to access control design. Identifying the number of doors that will require electronic lock hardware is important in determining the control panel and power supply requirements. The type and quality of the doors will determine the type of lock hardware needed.