What is an Access Control System?

The term access control refers to a form of security that limits entry to a physical space.

Access control has many common uses, some of which include entering a pin or code into a keypad or system, entering a password, swiping a card to access a door, transit system, or ATM kiosk, and unlocking a door with a key.

In the realm of physical access, the term access control refers to restricting entrance to a physical space such as a building, property, room, or other physical space occupied by persons. Physical access control could also be achieved by an electronic system, such as swiping a credit card to gain access to an ATM vestibule, or by a person, such as a receptionist, security guard, or bouncer.

The item used to gain access to an access controlled area is referred to as a credential. A credential is either a physical object, piece of knowledge, or facet of a person’s physical being grants access to an access controlled area. Examples could include a key, photo identification, a password, or a fingerprint.

Physical access control includes an access control point, at which the credential is presented and access is granted. Examples of access control points include a turnstile, a parking gate, an elevator, and most commonly, a door. This is the point that beyond which the individual will not be granted permission to enter should he or she not have the necessary credential.

So, in an access control system, a person wishing to gain access reaches the access control point, beyond which only people who meet specific standards are given further access. He or she then presents a credential, or the physical object or piece of knowledge that qualifies him or her to gain access. Depending on whether or not that credential is valid, he or she is either gained or denied entry.

Physical access control systems
are widely used and have very common applications in everyday life, such as swiping a card to ride a subway, and also extremely common in the realm of security systems. A voice or video intercom system is an access control system, with the credential often being recognition of the individual wishing to gain access by the individual on the other end. Keypad, locks, and other access restriction devices are also extremely common in the realm of securities systems.

Access control systems should be utilized in any situation where access must be restricted based on a variety of factors. Like any security system, one should consider which specific types of security or access issues his or her business or home has. In seeking solutions to specific problems within an overall structure, it becomes easier to decipher which access control systems will most effectively manage the security of the space.

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