Access control is a key factor in maintaining commercial security, and control panels function as both an access point gatekeeper and a repository of important information you need to keep your business safe. At the heart of this concept is knowledge and customizability – knowing who has accessed your business and when, and customizing who has that access. Control panels offer you both of these key elements in an easy-to-use interface, putting you in the driver’s seat when it comes to the security of your business. You can trust a control panel to allow or deny site entry to a wide array of employees and contractors based on your specifications.
Technological advancements in recent years have broadened the suite of access control options available to business owners in a wide variety of industries, such as finance, retail, education, the legal sector, healthcare, law enforcement and other government agencies. Business owners may choose to allow each employee the same access to a building using a code or swipe card, for example, or they may choose which types of employees can access certain areas of their building, and at what times. Business owners can even choose to rely on advanced biometric identification technologies such as retina or fingerprint scans. Before deciding which options will work best for your business, it’s important to understand how access control keeps your business safe, and how these different types of systems function.
What is access control?
Access control works as a key part of a building’s electronic and physical security by authenticating the credentials of an employee or contractor before allowing them entry to the site, or a dedicated zone within the building. It utilizes access points, such as a door, turnstile or security gate, which block access until the employee or contractor offers up their personal credentials. The personal credentials can take the form of a code, an identification badge, or a biometric reading. When the employee scans their credentials using a reader at the entry point, the information will be electronically transmitted to the control panel, which ensures the credentials match those that have been pre-approved for access before their entry is granted. If the credentials don’t match, access is denied. Newer types of devices, such as DMP’s Virtual Keypad, allow for employees to enter their credentials from a mobile app rather than a reader affixed to an access point.
What types of access control exist?
There are three main types of access control, according to Bay Alarm – discretionary, mandatory, and role-based. Discretionary Access Control or DAC is the least restrictive but easiest to use, allowing for anyone designated a system administrator to easily make changes to an employee’s access permissions. However, DAC is not as customizable as more sophisticated systems, and may not allow the administrator to designate access based on factors like an employee’s role or time of day.
Mandatory Access Control is the most restrictive system, and doesn’t allow for the system administrator to easily make changes to employee or contractor access permissions. Employees or contractors are granted entry to certain access points based on their role or classification.
Role-based Access Control also allows for employee access based on their role within the company, but allows for more customizability on the part of the system administrator. For example, a system administrator can choose to allow an employee limited access to a certain portion of a building, or allow for only managerial employees to access a building after business hours. Role-based is the most popular of these three types because of its customizability and ease of use, according to Bay Alarm.
control panels: The gatekeeper of the access control system
The control panel is the gatekeeper of the access control system. It is powered by the access control server, a powerful database that houses information about each employee’s unique permissions. Depending on the type of system, the system administrator can customize these permissions, controlling who has access and when. The control panel instantaneously matches the administrator’s specifications to the credentials of an employee trying to gain entry, acting as an important access point decision maker. The control panel can also provide a readout for the system administrator, detailing which employees accessed the building at what times, and whether anyone was denied entry. This type of access information is crucial for business owners to identify any potential suspicious activity and make data-based security decisions. The control panel can also interface with other kinds of security devices, like video monitoring systems, to provide seamless security in the event of an unauthorized access attempt.
DMP’s flagship control panel model, the XR550, allows for an array of access control functionalities, like managing access to specific building zones. It allows for 32 individual reporting zones, along with common areas, and up to 96 supervised access points. It uses wireless or cellular networks to connect entry point or mobile readers with the control panel, ensuring uninterrupted communication should one network become unavailable. Additional features are lockdown mode and user inactivity notification to help identify employees who no longer need access.
Honeywell also provides a suite of access control products, including control panels. The NETAXS-123, for example, allows for easy system operation anywhere there’s an Internet connection. The operating system is browser-based, with no dedicated software required, allowing administrators to manage employee access permissions and secure access points remotely. The NETAXS-123 is designed to seamlessly integrate with existing IT systems.
Choosing the best control panel for you
As a business owner or security manager, an access control system can offer peace of mind that your building is safe, and the knowledge you need to make informed security decisions. The control panel plays a crucial role as gatekeeper in executing your security plan. For more information about choosing the best control panel for your needs, contact Wittenbach to speak with one of our security experts today.