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Ensuring that businesses and residential properties are safe and secure from outside threats is essential. As installed systems become more advanced, with integrated features bridging the gap between physical and cyber security needs, choosing the right devices can be tricky.
The benefits of installing and operating a monitored access door system stretch far beyond protecting physical property and people from intruders, with new technology designed to help teams better manage daily operations from visitor management to CCTV networks. However, choosing the best access control system isn’t simply about selecting the option with the most extra features.
This guide will help business and property owners understand what is the best access control system for them, including key features for effective door access systems, the best access control software to consider, how to compare popular configurations and why security door access systems can improve wider security systems.
How to compare door access systems for businesses
Access control door systems are often the first line of defense for any given property, allowing security teams to reliably monitor and assess potential threats far before any valuable assets or information becomes compromised, so it’s important to understand what components to prioritize when looking at a door access control systems review.
The first step you should take when considering the installation of access control doors is to fully assess existing security systems and all desired physical security systems. This means taking a detailed look at potential vulnerabilities in current security features to develop new solutions. Understanding unique pain points helps teams build better defenses.
Considerations for door security access control systems include:
- The number of entry points that need securing
- How many staff or visitors will require credentials?
- How can door access controls be integrated alongside video security, visitor management, alarms and other systems?
- How easily can door control systems scale as the business grows?
By taking the time to consider these factors, you can better understand the intended uses of proposed access control door entry systems, as well as begin to focus on which key components to look out for when designing and implementing a truly effective and future-proof door access security system.
Types of door access control system hardware
Before settling on any door access system hardware, the scope and intended size of the deployment must be carefully considered. If an installation is only intended to secure a singular entry point, the overall requirements of the network will be very different to a site requiring multiple readers for access-controlled doors.
Reliably securing a single door can be achieved using a local system in which all processes will be performed natively within the entry reader. However, deployments with multiple hardware units may require a networked system where all readers communicate via a centralized control platform.
Generally speaking, the larger door security access control systems become, the more beneficial security teams will find the operation of an interconnected networked door access system to be.
By installing and managing a wireless networked door access control system, admins are able to:
- Easily add or remove entries from the system
- Adjust permissions and door access controls remotely
- Integrate readers with existing building systems
- Develop security responses informed by multiple readers
Though these key safety features will be beneficial to larger deployments like commercial offices or residential apartment complexes, a small retail store with only two entry points may have little use for such comprehensive security requirements, so a single door access system will be more cost-effective.
How an intended access-controlled door system is to be installed should also be considered before choosing which hardware units to purchase. For example, if a property has existing hardware installed, new systems should be backward compatible with these devices and be capable of connecting to existing wiring infrastructure. If existing door access systems are too outdated to function alongside new technology, a full rip-and-replace to more modern controlled entry systems may provide better return on investment in the long run.
Owners of newly built properties will have far more flexibility. A wireless access control system may be desired to reduce the need for costly and time-consuming structural work, or a standard wiring system may be chosen featuring several inputs/outputs to ensure that new hardware can be easily installed when necessary. Consulting an access control installer will help teams to make these decisions.
Choosing on-site or cloud-based door control systems
Next, you’ll need to decide whether to operate door access security systems using cloud vs on premise security servers. The primary differences between the two involve maintenance and convenience, though additional considerations include available space and cybersecurity needs.
Legacy controlled entry systems typically use on-premises servers, with property owners dedicating physical floorspace to house server blocks and in-person teams managing and maintaining the physical hardware. On-premise servers are often found in high-security facilities like government and financial institutions as they offer greater security oversight and customization.
Cloud-based management platforms are becoming increasingly popular in modern installations. Many organizations feel these are the best access control systems for centralized operations, as they can be accessed remotely over an internet connection, plus regular updates and maintenance procedures are performed automatically over-the-air.
When weighing the pros and cons of operating an these door control systems three key factors should be carefully considered:
- Security — As all communications between door access controllers and on-premises servers are performed within a local connection, it’s harder for criminals to intercept transmissions and gain entry to connected security systems. However, all management and maintenance must be carried out by on-premise IT teams. Cloud-based platforms are ideal for large deployments as devices across multiple sites can all be connected to the same cloud servers, though strict security policies must be in place to prevent breaches.
- Cost — Choosing between on-premises and cloud-based servers will have a noticeable impact on the overall door access control system price. On-premises servers are more expensive to install and will require ongoing support, maintenance and administration costs, while cloud services tend to be subscription models managed and maintained by a third party.
- Scalability — Upgrading on-premises servers requires businesses to allocate more space to new hardware and more funds to management and maintenance. Opting for cloud-based door access system servers allows admins to add new entries, adjust credentials and edit operational functions at any time as the business scales and grows.
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Types of door access control systems
Once you determine the best access control system configuration for your business, you’ll need to make sure your door control system supports your desired method of granting access to authorized individuals. All access control door systems require verified persons to produce some form of credentials to gain entry, with truly versatile systems supporting multiple types.
Below is a quick summary of the three most popular credentials for access-controlled doors.
- RFID key cards and fobs — Users are issued physical cards or fobs containing unique credentials within an RFID chip. When a verified chip is held in proximity to a reader, access will be granted. Most legacy door access systems support this credential type, though operating a card or key fob system can be costly and hard to manage as lost cards must be replaced, and new credentials must be administered in-person to staff or guests.
- Mobile credentials — When operating a mobile access door system, users are issued unique credentials directly to their smartphones which can then be used to gain property access. As 85% of Americans own a smartphone, businesses can avoid issuing costly physical cards, with further benefits in that credentials can be managed remotely and secured by password-protections already present in most smartphones.
- Biometric credentials — Biometric credentials can take the form of fingerprints, retina scans, facial recognition or gesture controls and are commonly used to protect high-security locations as these unique indicators are difficult to copy. Biometric readers are frequently used in multi-factor authentication processes, working in unison with a more common credential type to provide an additional layer of security.
When deciding which types of door access systems credentials will be most appropriate, security teams and business owners must understand the needs of their facility, consider these questions:
- How many credentials need to be issued? Mobile credentials may be easier to manage for any business with multiple locations and hundreds of employees, and eliminate the hassle of restocking and issuing physical credentials to staff.
- Does everybody need the same credential types? Modern access control doors can often be configured to accept multiple credential types. High-security facilities may wish to utilize this feature by securing server rooms, safe rooms and data centers with multi-factor authentication (MFA).
- How will credentials be managed? Your credentials should be easy to issue, adjust or revoke without putting your people or property at risk.
Features to look for in top door access control systems
Modern door access systems are designed to provide far more functionality than simply assessing and verifying credentials. Top access control systems are capable of assisting IT and security teams in streamlining daily workflows and bolstering security policies through the use of several extra features.
So, what is the best access control system? In terms of the most proactive and versatile door access solutions, security teams and property owners should look for devices with the following features.
- Reliability — One of the top features in door access control system reviews is how reliable the system is. The best access control system is only worth the investment if it works, every time. This means you want to look for door control systems that have fast, reliable unlocking mechanisms, and choose credentials that are convenient for users. Ensure your access-controlled doors are configured with the correct read range and that any wireless or Bluetooth networks have strong connection.
- Report logs and audit trails — As any installed door access system will often represent a business’ first line of defense against intrusion events, it’s important that the network is capable of providing detailed report logs to aid security teams in monitoring how the system is used. If an incident should occur, teams can easily verify who has accessed which readers and use this data to locate relevant footage from video security cameras, trigger alarms or provide information for space optimization.
- Real-time security alerts — The key to effective incident responses often lies in quick security reactions. The best access control systems will provide security teams with real-time notifications of system use and access events, which can be used to locate areas of interest and engage wider security devices to address issues.
- Remote management — Choosing to operate door access controls via a cloud-based platform enables security teams to access the system from any location, allowing admins to adjust permissions, view access events, remotely unlock access controlled doors and address visitor issues from anywhere with a secure internet connection.
- Visual verification at the door — Whilst receiving real-time alerts regarding access events can help admins to improve incident response times, having access to footage of the incident enables teams to understand the situation clearly. This can be done by integrating security cameras with door readers, as well as choosing door access control systems with built-in cameras to ensure admins can always visually verify system users.
- Wider security integrations — Operating access control doors from an open platform allows security teams to develop smart building security systems and automated incident responses. Controlled entry systems can be connected to CCTV cameras, visitor management systems and other IoT devices to develop informed networks capable of verifying and monitoring activity as well as provide insights into how devices are commonly used.
- Personalized dashboards — A building security system is only effective if admins can access relevant data and door access controls with ease. The best door access systems will include customizable dashboards accessible from both mobile and desktop devices that can be used to monitor and adjust day-to-day systems like individual reader controls, event logs, lockdown plans, credential databases, real-time video and access event feeds.
- Automated lockdown functions — No matter the size of the organization, at some point an emergency will occur. To ensure that all staff, visitors and valuable assets are safe during such events, security teams must have an actionable lockdown plan in place. Top door access systems will be equipped with automated responses used to trigger a system-wide lockdown in which all access control doors will be secured during active emergency situations.
- Contactless building access — Recent world events have highlighted the importance of good hygiene in public spaces and work environments. By leveraging contactless door access control systems with biometric, mobile-enabled or RFID technology, business owners can reduce the need for visitors to engage with high-touch surfaces and facilitate a convenient user experience in commercial settings like gyms, retail stores and offices.
How to find the best door access control system companies
No door access control system review would be complete without some insight into the most effective and reliable door access solution manufacturers, though not all providers offer the same level of service and support. Some providers only produce individual components like software, readers or control applications, whilst others offer more comprehensive services including installation and maintenance.
If a business has existing door access systems that they wish to continue operating, ask your installer which manufacturers or providers offer compatible products. Keep in mind that different providers may mean having to contact multiple companies for support or system updates.
Another important consideration for door access controller systems involves relevant security compliances that may affect the property and business. New hardware and software may need to meet certain requirements before being deployed.
Property owners should consult door access system providers to ensure that proposed systems are capable of end-to-end encryption to protect data communications, as well as ensure that all devices are compliant with industry and operational standards.
Final considerations for door access control systems
The installation of a well-managed and monitored door access controllers is essential to the security of modern businesses and residential complexes, so property owners must do their due diligence when selecting which kind of system to use. Security teams should begin by assessing the unique requirements of the installation, including how many hardware units will be necessary, which style of credentials will be most appropriate and whether to operate on-premise or cloud-based servers.
Make sure to consider all available options and read multiple door access security system reviews before settling on any hardware, software or additional access devices, and seek out information from independent sources to learn how certain configurations operate in real-world situations.
Consider ongoing maintenance costs, plans to expand security systems as the business grows and ensure that any proposed system is both compliant with relevant industry standards and able to be integrated alongside existing infrastructure and security systems. With these factors appropriately understood, property owners should be equipped to find the best door access system for their needs.
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