Mechanical locks tell no tales.
While a well thought out key control system is essential to your physical security plan, those mechanical deadbolts and door locks will never tell you who opened them or when.
In addition, there are times when you need to control access to a lock based on date and time. And there are occasions, such as when a key is lost or stolen, when you need to eliminate it from your system quickly. In these circumstances, you need the added security of an electronic access control system.
Electronic Access Control Formats
Electronic Access Control (EAC) systems are typically found in three formats:
Networked Systems. In this format, multiple doors are controlled by one access control panel. The access control panel communicates with all of the hardware mounted at the door, as well as with a computer that is used for programming. Installing a networked system requires, at a minimum:
- Installing an electric lock at the door;
- Installing a reader at the door (such as a card reader or PIN pad);
- Running cables from each door back to a CPU.
Standalone Systems. Standalone systems are easier to install than networked systems, because all of the components are located at the door. A standalone access control system consists of an electrified lock, batteries, controller and reader. These devices are assembled in a package that replaces a standard knob or lever lock. While less expensive than networked systems, standalones can become cumbersome since all programming needs to take place at the door. So if you need to add a key to a system with 10 doors, you'll visit each one to complete the programming.
Key Based Systems. A third EAC format, the key based system, combines some of the best features of the networked and standalone systems. Like a standalone system, key based systems are relatively inexpensive to install, since all locking hardware is contained at the door. But a key based system is easier to program than a standalone because most programming changes are made to the key.