By looking at electronic access control (EAC) from an applications perspective is very helpful to security professionals when analyzing how to best protect a facility and its people. The fact is, no two doors are alike and no two end users are alike. By breaking down individual doors into a series of classifications can be most helpful in assuring that the EAC is performing to the highest standards that the budget allows.

To do so, an open solution is beneficial. It makes integration of the various products – from doorway to doorway – seamless and simple. An open technology platform can adapt to any environment throughout the organization with virtually any access control system the end user installs and supports.

            Using an open solution, EAC can be broken into five categories of applications –

  1. Standard:EAC is used to secure the perimeter access points in real time. Standard applications feature hardwired card readers and system accessories including electrified locks, electronic strikes and electromagnetic locks.
  2. High Security:EAC is used to control highly restricted or sensitive openings. It features multi-factor authentication and biometrics.
  3. Interior Openings and Upgrades:Here, EAC is used predominantly in retrofit applications that feature integrated electronic locks which eliminate the need to run wires to each opening.
  4. Specialty:Access control used in remote or hard to reach areas which feature wireless devices which eliminate running wires to challenging locations.
  5. Standalone:Access control that is typically applied to openings that do not require monitoring or updating in real time.

Let’s take a quick look at each.

Standard Applications

In office suites, government buildings and light commercial facilities, tenants want flexible access control solutions that let them work with what they already have without making major new investments. Readers should be designed on an open platform and work with a variety of credential technologies from PINs to proximity to smart and even NFC-enabled smartphones. Such a system provides easy transitions to upgraded technologies over time and as budgets grow.

In hospitals, surgical centers and medical office buildings, double doors can be used to control traffic in a hallway or corridor. Electronic trim will ensure that only authorized individuals have access to secure areas and also enable centralized lockdown at a moment’s notice. Such applications often use locking systems that combine the electrified lock, reader, door position and REX switches together into one device.

In office, commercial, industrial and medical buildings, perimeter exits and entrances need both secure access and reliable door operation that is in compliance with safety codes. For high traffic doors, electric strikes should feature heavy duty stainless steel construction for use with single, double and fire-rated doors.

In many buildings, the automated opening can serve as a secure perimeter entrance that combines EAC with ADA-compliant accessibility. In others, doors with delayed egress are used where it’s critical that staff have time to verify identity and secure an individual, if needed, before the door opens.

High-Security Applications

Research laboratories, biohazard areas, pharmaceutical dispensaries, data centers and record offices typically have a limited number of users but require a very high level of security to protect private, dangerous or expensive materials, goods or information. For these areas, smart cards utilize encrypted technology to offer the highest in credential security. A multi-technology reader with keypad lets organizations implement multi-factor authentication to provide increased security by requiring both a card and PIN to enter.

Biometric technologies, such as hand geometry readers, deliver the highest level of security because the credential is directly tied to one user and it cannot be duplicated. Only biometrics verifies that the right person is entering an opening at the right time. Such security works for both perimeter and interior openings. When placed at a school’s entrance, biometrics can be used to manage access of parents, visitors and staff.

Interior Openings and Upgrades

Universities, classrooms, older historic buildings and other similar facilities find upgrading to be challenging, especially when dealing with brick and concrete construction. Wireless locks provide the benefits of hardwired access control without the need to run wires.

Stairwell doors sometimes require controlled access to various floors while ensuring safe egress in emergencies. Wireless trim can be used to upgrade exit devices.

Two story entrances can create a host of problems. A wireless reader interface will connect the reader to the access control system without having to run new wires up and over the ceiling.

Specialty Applications

Extending access control to remote buildings and storage sheds is simplified with wireless technology that seamlessly integrates into existing access control systems and eliminates digging trenches. Communications range is up to 1,000 feet and remote antennas will increase that.

Using wireless, organizations can control access to the parking gates using the same credential used in the building, accessing the same access control system. Restricting access via elevators to specific floors is simplified and much less costly. A wireless portable reader will extend the perimeter of any facility at a moment’s notice or validate credentials at remote or temporary access points. Kits are available for such applications to make installation much easier.

Standalone Applications

Standalone locks provide a cost-effective way to manage access to openings that do not require real-time monitoring and control such as at common areas, storage rooms, retail store fronts and secondary or employee entrances. Audit trails can provide a record of who requested access. The locks can interface with peripheral devices such as automatic operators, electric strikes and electromagnetic locks and be used with offline access control software to set time zones, holiday schedules and retrieve audits.

For schools that are looking to upgrade classroom level security but do not have the budget for a fully networked access control system, an affordable standalone solution can provide immediate local lockdown by simply pushing the button on a remote fob from anywhere in the classroom.

No Two Doors Are Alike

By looking at EAC from an application standpoint, organizations can assure that each door is provided the level of security that is required. With an open platform, they can create EAC solutions which increase security throughout the facility while helping keeping budgets in check.