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Modern security systems are much more advanced and, generally, do a better job of creating safety and protecting facilities than in the past. However, at the same time, as security has increased over the years, so have intruders’ attempts to access these facilities. Some organizations mitigate this problem through physical access control — controlling who gets in and when. The control leverages technologies such as card readers or biometric sensors that determine whether or not an individual has been authorized to enter a facility based on their identity. This can be done either automatically or by a human officer who manually verifies their identity by biometrics.
The most sophisticated access control systems use computer technology to implement checks and balances to determine whether or not an individual is authorized to enter a building.
When physical access control (PAC) is in place, it can stop a person from entering and allow them to enter without interrupting service. It can be configured so that different levels of access are granted based on an individual’s identity and use of certain technologies, such as retina scanning technology and an RFID card reader.
What is a physical Access Control System?
Physical access control is a method of regulating access to a facility. This method is most effective when used alongside other security measures, but on its own, it can be very effective in controlling who has access. Nothing beats a physical access control system (PACS) when protecting a facility or restricted area. Particularly beneficial in buildings requiring higher levels of security and protection, PACS are often installed to protect businesses and property from vandalism, theft, and trespassing.
Physical access control techniques regulate who can enter a protected area when they can enter it, and under what circumstances, as opposed to more passive measures like retaining walls, fences, or strategically placed plants.
Some physical access control systems include motion detection sensors, which detect if a particular individual is walking around the area and should be monitored. Some systems use high-resolution video cameras that can detect the presence of individuals and verify their identity before allowing them to enter a building or room.
Challenges of Physical Access Control System
Security professionals should be aware of potential challenges associated with physical access control systems. Knowing these challenges can help security professionals evaluate a building’s physical access control system before it is installed to ensure that it will not be a problem after the system is in place.
Sensitivity of Data/Areas: It is very important to secure the data of physical access control systems. If the information is not kept secure, unauthorized parties can gain access to sensitive areas and possibly cause bodily injury. The information should be secured in a database that can prevent unauthorized access.
Levels of Authorization: It is necessary to select the level of authorization that fits the physical access control system. For example, with an access control system, it is possible to allow users to enter a building and move between different areas without any form of monitoring or control.
The Number of Users: Physical access control systems should have the right set of security to choose the right number of users and should be able to deny access if the wrong credentials are used. This will prevent people from intruding into a building without intention.
User Types: After deciding the number of users, choosing the right user type is necessary. One user type may not be strong enough to prevent intruders from gaining access. For example, employee badges may not have enough security to prevent intruders from entering a building.
Types of physical Access Control System
The following are different types of physical access control systems:
- Keypads: These are used in office buildings and factories to read cards and magnetic strips that transmit information to a central computer or terminal. This system can be set up so that only a specific person or persons can enter a building.
- Security Guard: Security guards are the most traditional form of physical access control. A security guard checks IDs performs wanding and monitors video cameras to detect intruders.
- Lock and keys: Another common form of physical access control is lock and keys. This type of physical access control relies on using a combination or keypad to enter the building.
- Key Cards and Fobs: Key cards and fobs are also very common forms of physical access control. These systems use keycards, which are about the size of a credit card, that allow the owner to enter their facility or room when they are within.
- Intercoms: Another form of physical access control is intercoms. An intercom is usually a security guard’s desk at the entrance of a facility and allows the guard to communicate with the individual trying to enter.
Benefits of Physical Access Control
Physical access control systems have some compelling reasons that make them a great security investment. These include:
- Lockdown All/Parts of Buildings In The Event Of Emergencies: In various emergencies, such as natural disasters or terror attacks, the goal is to limit intruders’ access to buildings to those with valid business cards or other credentials. All facility sections are closed off with physical access control systems, preventing intruders from accessing certain areas.
- Report on Occupancy and Locations of Individuals In The Event Of an Evacuation: With physical access control systems, operators can determine if employees are in a building when it is closed off and still determine where they are located.
- Prevent Unauthorized Access In The Event Of A Catastrophe: In an emergency, employees at a factory or other facility are usually unable to reach this area and cannot check whether or not others have been evacuated. Physical access control systems can be alerted if an employee attempts to enter with an incorrect credential to prevent them from entering.
- Control Entry to Floors and Rooms in the event of Overcrowding: Intruders can enter buildings and other areas that are open to the public and closer to them if there is a large crowd or a security breach. With physical access control systems, the facility can restrict access to floors and rooms until enough personnel has been secured to prevent intrusions.
- Support Messaging via Mobile to Assist Wayfinding and Emergency Contact: In an emergency, police officers, security guards, or others may need to locate buildings and other areas to assist rescue efforts. With physical access control systems, each building or other area can be provided with a message via mobile communication with emergency personnel.
In conclusion, physical access control systems have been around for several years and have become more advanced and sophisticated. Most of these systems use electronic technology to verify the identity of individuals who are attempting to enter a building by assuring them that an individual is who they claim to be before allowing them through. While these systems can help prevent intruders from entering a building, they should still be used with other security measures such as video surveillance and monitored entry points to ensure a high degree of security for businesses.