The advent of electronic access control and identity management has made it easier and more convenient for organizations to deploy security solutions at the entry of facilities. But, has it actually made the facilities more secure?

Today’s access control technology is based on identity and permissions, verified by credentials which may include ID cards, biometrics or proximity devices. While at one time these technologies were a closed loop, in recent years that has changed. The first step was the ability to connect diverse systems so that they could communicate and interoperate. With the growth of the IoT, individual solutions could connect to the network, creating the potential for communication between all systems.

Now, the continuing convergence of physical and cybersecurity has enabled greatly expanded functionality across all business and security systems. Networked access control solutions now include automated checking against watch lists, alerts for specified situations, correlation of events and more. For security professionals, these capabilities can open new worlds of possibilities for situational awareness and predictive analysis.

Yet with all this, when we go back to the entry itself, we find that in fact there is often a serious shortfall that is not addressed by most access control technology alone. With most doors, it is still possible for unauthorized individuals to enter by tailgating, or slipping through the door or swinging turnstile barriers while they are still open after a credentialed individual has gone through. In an attempt to address this, many organizations hire security officers to staff the entry. While this can help to reduce tailgating, it has been demonstrated that officers are not immune to social engineering and can be “talked into” letting someone into a facility. Further, staffing creates an additional burden on the budget, taking funds from another area of need.

Other organizations have deployed video surveillance cameras or sensors to identify tailgating, or a door left open for longer than rules allow, and alert management so that action can be taken – but this is at best a reactive solution. It does not keep the unauthorized persons from entering.

To truly secure the entry, you must evaluate your needs and consider the technology, not only of your access control solution, but also of the door itself. There will always be a balance between security and convenience – the more secure the entry, the less convenient it is for your personnel and visitors to enter your facility – so it is an important first step to determine what is right at every entrance point within and around your perimeter.

The many different kinds of security entrances available today can address these concerns by deterring, detecting and preventing tailgating. Organizations can find what they need to meet specific risk mitigation objectives for every entry location throughout the enterprise. Further, most security entrances can be even more finely configured to meet policies, procedures and business objectives beyond security. For example, at a primary staff entrance to a large fulfillment center, there will be an intense morning rush from personnel eager to have their credentials validated so that their pay hours can commence. The entry solution in this location needs to enable a high throughput while maintaining safe conditions for a large crowd. If tailgating at that location is a concern, there may be a need for sensors or a security officer during the morning rush. Later in the day, throughput can be de-prioritized in order to optimize security while conserving budget by minimizing staffing.

By looking at the full technology capabilities of each entry solution, you can make a better choice that truly fits the needs of your facility, your business and your objectives. To do this, it is vital to look beyond access control connectivity and integration – while these are important assets, they can’t ensure you’ll maintain the level of risk mitigation you need. To achieve a secure entrance through today’s converged technology, you need to consider each entryway individually, throughout the course of each day and in light of how it will be used.

It can be extremely valuable to speak with a knowledgeable consultant or manufacturer who can give you a full picture of your different options. Take the time to go through each location along with its needs and challenges. By doing so, you’ll be sure to achieve the best outcomes for all of your safety and security objectives.