The Benefits of a Custom Access Control System 

 January 14, 2022

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Facility security systems are often sold as generic setups for the most common of situations. Unfortunately, what most businesses realize once they install their first security asset is that their operation and physical footprint is anything but generic. Everything from the time when employees need access to physically be present to when secure areas need to be locked to when the cleaning service has to come in varies dramatically from one company to the next. This is why, ultimately, a custom access control system is where every business ends up with a facility security approach and it should be where every business starts to begin with.

A Simple Design Proven by Years of Reliability

The most customizable control system available with the most reliability and longest performance track record has been and continues to be a security card system. They are highly flexible, can be customized for large or small organizations, designed to handle both ID roles and access in the same package, and they are extremely replaceable at low cost. The physical tool fits in any wallet or small bag as well as a lanyard, creating a functional and usable security tool versus something that is bulky or so small it gets lost quickly. Further, security cards can be easily expanded in capability with RFID additions, allowing them to be used as proximity access for secondary confirmation often used with networked multi-factor authentication, or MFA, programs as well. 

Scalable Access Control for Growth and Change

The beauty of modern card pass systems as well is how scalable they are. A small business can get started easily with a basic package and expand from there with growth. As long as the same administration system is used across all other facilities, every new plant or fixture can be added along with the staff there. Locations can be segmented but still controlled and administered centrally through online remote control as well. New access can be spun up and existing accounts cancelled in a matter of seconds with online administration seeing all facilities at once. This allows for maximum flexibility as roles change or when players need varied access based on functions to different facilities at the same time, a common issue in larger organizations. 

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The fundamental purpose of a control system has been and remains only letting authorized people past an entry point. This idea has been around for centuries, ever since the door lock was invented with a key and lock mechanism. Card access systems are just a modern version of the same, with far greater power and control versus physical keys being handed out all the time. And, unlike a physical key, access and use can be changed on an ongoing basis with a modern access system. Keys have to be remade and replaced instead with matching locks reset. Further, cards can be temporary in nature. The same can’t be said for a key which requires the lock to be completely replaced to make the key useless if it falls in the wrong hands. 

Why Other Security Approaches Fall Behind

Facility managers are challenged the most when they have to deal with a considerable number of temporary actors in their location. Standard security access passes are expensive and, if lost or taken, represent a significant recovery expense to nullify. The same goes for keys and locks mentioned above. So, the alternative needs to be robust and flexible enough to address lots of different access needs that change over time, be practical enough physically to not be easy to lose or burdensome to carry, durable enough to last a few years at a time for long-term use, and easy enough to manage to cut off access in seconds and minutes if needed. Modern control access systems are clearly the answer in this regard.

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Alternatively, one could use a physical guard approach, but this approach is shift and labor intensive, and only as reliable as the actual security personnel involved. Inevitably, because of the human factor, a mistake will be made or an accident will occur that shouldn’t be because of human decisions. None of this occurs with a custom access control system. Once coded and scripted, the rule set that applies to a given access pass is permanent until changed again. There is no deviation or exceptions on the natural. And, when combined with a secondary MFA, the system only becomes even stronger.

What to do With an Existing System?

If a business already has a security system in place and wants to move into a custom access control system, compatibility between systems will be an issue. To some extent, some of the equipment and network hardware can be carried over and reconfigured. In other cases, such as fobs and other individual equipment, they will be incompatible and cannot be used. Recycling and reselling leftover stock is probably the best choice as there will be other companies still using similar systems that could utilize the inventory. The good news is, many systems can be cannibalized to some extent to work with a custom access control system, but it’s a case-by-case issue.

Case Scenarios That Shine

Clearly, situations where a company or business deals with a tremendous amount of turnover, such as seasonal labor support, or where the public are given temporary access benefits from a custom access control system tremendously. There’s no need to worry about chasing every card recovery, the costs are minimal for replacement, and the security control is maximized while still allowing for a high variation in the card-holding population at any given time. 

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Further, there are secondary benefits to a custom access control system with the data it has the potential to produce. People operate by protocol and habit, and the cards involved can be tracked geospatially as well as systemically. This gives administrators a gold mine of information about activity, traffic, patterns and normality within a work force which can then be used for more accurate management of personnel. And, for security, it allows outlier behavior to be spotted far more quickly as well for follow-up. 

Finally, security is greatly enhanced with a centralized control of access points, allowing for immediate lockdown if needed during a crisis or emergency situation. Unfortunately, these events are a reality today, and a lockdown compartmentalizes risk as well as prevents more damage and injury when access response is immediate. Much like how a ship compartment can close off and prevent the whole ship from sinking, a threat can be isolated and blocked immediately from any further travel within a facility via a custom access control system lockdown. This is the power now possible with an ideal access control system, and that kind of benefit can save lives.

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