FULL GUIDE TO COMMERCIAL GATE SECURITY SYSTEMS AND ACCESS CONTROL GATES
For most commercial and residential property owners, the installation of a reliable security gate entry system is essential to the overall protection of their organizations. Gate control systems are essential in helping security teams actively defend and monitor entry points, deter would-be criminals and grant access to authorized persons.
With some reports stating that 88% of surveyed security officers have seen a dramatic increase in physical security threats to US properties in recent years, the decision to install, upgrade and develop integrated outdoor gate access control systems continues to prove vital to property crime prevention.
Choosing the most appropriate security gate system for any given property will require building owners to consider how the proposed system will fit into existing security features, as well as understand the unique requirements of the intended access control gate installation. This comprehensive guide to gate access control security will define the different types of security gates for buildings, the benefits of access control gates and best use cases for controlled access gate systems.
What is a commercial gate access control system?
Gate access control refers to the installation of a physical gate entry system designed to only permit access to authorized individuals. A gate entry system can be used to limit property access to both pedestrians and vehicles, with several configurations available to best suit a range of residential and commercial applications.
When choosing the most appropriate style of access control gate for building security, property owners should consider how many people will use the system daily, how access credentials will be presented and how teams will monitor gate access. It’s also important to think about how the gate control system is able to function as part of a wider security network.
The components of a gate control system
Security gate systems operate similarly to access for doors, with most common configurations containing the same integral components. Commercial access gate systems will require a gate entry system reader, access credentials for each user, a controller that communicates with the readers to make all access decisions, and software that allows security teams to manage the gate access system.
When choosing a commercial gate control system, it’s important to consider how these components will be installed on the property, and the specific needs of your building. For example, gate entry keypads will require users to type in a PIN code, so they need to be easily accessible from inside a car for vehicle gate access control systems.
How do commercial control access gates work?
When in operation, a resident or employee will approach the gate access control reader to present issued credentials. The most popular credentials for a gated community security system are key cards, RFID fobs, PIN codes for gate keypad readers or mobile credentials via a smartphone app.
Credential information will then be sent electronically to the management system to be checked by an internal database. If the presented credentials are accepted, the controller sends a signal back to the electric gate entry system to disengage the lock. Depending on the type of gated access control system and software, a failed unlock attempt can also trigger alerts for the front gate security team so they can respond accordingly.
Depending on how advanced the access control gates are, a number of further security features can be programmed to respond to both accepted and rejected credentials. Additional access control system gate security measures including intercom systems, video security cameras, automated lockdown functions and on-premise auditory alarms.
The different types of access control gates for buildings
Property owners may have previously encountered rudimentary residential gate entry systems or simple gate access options such as single button garage openers. However, modern security gates can provide several advanced features allowing for a much more robust and secure gate access control solution.
Here are a few popular styles of gate access control systems to consider, including their benefits and challenges to help you make an informed decision.
Keypad entry gate system
Gate entry keypads are amongst the most common forms of outdoor gate access control, requiring users to type in a predetermined passcode or PIN to gain property access. The simplicity of these systems means that they’re generally inexpensive and easy to install. However, if all tenants are issued the same entry code the possibility for security breaches can be high.
Additionally, a commercial keypad gate access system using only one entry code can lead to difficulties in monitoring building access. One solution is to issue unique PINs for each user. While this will help secure the access control gates, it means more time spent managing the system, and can be an impossible task for buildings with hundreds of users, such as for large commercial buildings or gated communities.
RFID security gate entry systems
An RFID security gate system relies on users presenting access credentials via an electronic tag, usually installed within a portable key card or fob. RFID systems are well suited to commercial properties such as offices, gyms and hotels as the credentials used are generally inexpensive and easy to replace. However, be aware that operational costs for fob and card access gate systems can quickly rise as the number of users increases.
If you decide to install an RFID gate access control system, consider how related interior door access control units are configured. If all your entrance security systems aren’t compatible, tenants may need to carry multiple key cards to unlock different doors. It may also be necessary to consider alternative access methods to be used by temporary guests or for residents that may have misplaced their own.
Cellular gate access control
Operating commercial gate access control systems via cellular or mobile credentials is quickly gaining popularity. Mobile access control for gate entrances works similarly to an RFID gate access control system, though smartphone app configurations eliminate the need for security teams to issue physical credentials. This can result in reduced operational costs for the entry gate system over time.
Those not familiar with mobile access control for automated gate entry systems may wonder how to open gate with phone technology. In most cases, users will download an app issued by the service provider and are able to unlock the gate using in-app controls or by holding their phone to the reader. Cellular gate access control readers usually use Bluetooth, Near-Field Communication (NFC), Wi-Fi or cellular signals to communicate with nearby devices.
Mobile credentials also allow security teams to better monitor access credentials, with admins having the ability to track individual usage, revoke or adjust permissions remotely and issue temporary credentials to visitors directly to their phones.
Intercom access control for gate entry
Door intercoms are commonly used for residential gate entry systems, and are a helpful tool in apartment gate security entry management. Because granting site access using these configurations must be manually approved by a resident or security officer connected to the line, a gate access controller connected to an intercom device is a great way to ensure only approved guests can enter the property.
Visitors are able to request access using the entrance security system next to the gate, which will connect them with a relevant resident or security guard tasked with verifying their identity. Modern commercial and residential gate access intercoms can also be fitted with security cameras to provide video-calling and visual verification. Using cloud-based platforms for gate security entry management also enables teams to remotely view access logs and unlock the gate.
Vehicle detection gate security systems
Commercial gate security systems equipped with vehicle detection functionality are designed to manage access to gated driveways, parking garages and private roads. This type of gated community entrance system can also be integrated alongside additional security cameras to aid security teams in implementing an automated gate entry system in an HOA community, or for active parking management systems in commercial buildings.
Vehicle gate access control systems will generally use either license plate recognition (LPR) technology to scan license characters against an internal database, or RFID proximity technology installed in authorized vehicles. Using this technology for vehicle gate access control means authorized users can simply drive up to a controlled access gate, and the system will automatically open. This is much more convenient compared to a remote-controlled gate opening system.
Vehicle detection systems can also be installed alongside additional gate entry solutions in order to provide access to both pedestrians and vehicles from one entrance. Commonly these electric gate entry systems can be found as part of gated community security systems with separate locking mechanisms for each specific use.
Wired vs. wireless gate access control system considerations
Installing a wired access control system gate
In a wired gate access control system, each component must be physically connected in order to communicate freely. This requires structural work to be completed during the installation, which can be both disruptive and costly, especially if the proposed front gate security system is located far from the main property.
Though the initial installation of a wired gate entry system can be expensive, these configurations are able to operate entirely within a local network. This is beneficial to use cases where a secure connection is needed, as active credentials will never leave on-site servers, making it less vulnerable to outside hacking threats. That being said, additional physical security should be implemented for server rooms to ensure your commercial or residential gate access control system data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Installing wireless gate access control
Opting for a wireless or remote-controlled gate opening system can help to reduce initial installation costs as each component will not need to be wired directly to the main property. Additionally, wireless gate access control systems can be integrated alongside cloud-based operating systems, which can then be used to develop remote management platforms accessible from any web-connected device.
If a wireless configuration is chosen, property owners must ensure that the wireless signal is strong enough to reliably reach a control hub installed inside the property. Security teams will also need to consider additional cybersecurity measures to protect the gate access controller network from potential hacking attempts.
Benefits of security gate systems
Improved gate security entry management
The primary benefit of installing a comprehensive commercial gate access control system is the ability for property owners to completely control who is able to enter the premises at any time. Not only will tenants, staff and guests require valid credentials to unlock the gate, but security teams are able to reliably monitor and adjust permissions and control the gate security systems to further limit access in response to potential threats.
Data gathered from the daily use of community gate access systems can also be used to help plan automated security functions relating to common uses of the system. For example, deadbolts may be programmed to engage after a certain time or additional verification may be required after a certain hour.
Round-the-clock gated community security
For installations in which the employment of 24/7 on-site security staff is not practically or financially possible, the presence of a security gate entry system integrated alongside additional remote-managed systems can help to provide round-the-clock building security. Ideal for HOA gate systems and to secure a gated community entrance, these systems ensure only authorized people can access the property at any given moment.
Leveraging an RFID gate system, key card gate access or any other similar entry point management solution alongside on-site sensors and cloud management features, security staff can receive real-time alerts relating to attempted breaches and effectively manage gate access from smart devices.
Theft and vandalism protection
Studies have shown that the presence of security gate systems alone can act as a deterrent for a number of crimes. For example, gated community security systems have been found to reduce burglaries by as much as 33% when compared to similarly sized non-gated residential areas.
The efficacy of these security systems can be further improved by opting to install gated community access control featuring difficult to duplicate credentials. Mobile apps or remote-access RFID readers are a good option, especially If these systems are programmed to alert admins remotely to potential misuse via on-site alarms and sensors.
Visitor management and convenience
Most commercial and residential properties will need to be accessed by temporary visitors, contractors and delivery couriers alongside permanent residents and staff. This means visitor management is a key benefit of security gate entry systems.
By making use of digitally managed keypad, mobile-credential or card access gate systems, temporary passes can be issued to visitors and monitored by security staff, helping ensure only authorized persons are able to gain access to the property. Remotely-operated gated community gate systems are useful, too, as security teams or property managers can verify visitors and then unlock the gate without having to be on-site.
Utilizing commercial or apartment gate security solutions with instant guest credentials means that the convenience of contactless and swipe entry can be extended to temporary guests as well as building tenants. Additionally, security staff are able to distinguish between the two groups when issuing, revoking, monitoring or otherwise managing sets of active credentials.
Commercial gate entry systems use cases
Neighborhood gate systems
Gated communities account for a large portion of all security gate systems in the US, with many residents choosing these neighborhoods for the peace of mind that this additional security feature can bring. Gated community gate systems commonly make use of RFID access control, as residents are able to present their own access cards or fobs at all hours without the need for dedicated on-site security personnel. Because some neighborhoods have multiple gated community entrances, it’s important that vehicle gate access control systems are reliable, and monitored for security incidents such as tailgating.
Additionally, many neighborhood gate systems will also make use of remote gate access control features allowing residents to open all main access gates from their own houses or apartments to allow entry for delivery drivers and temporary guests.
Residential gate access control systems for apartments
In a similar sense to a gated community access control security system, apartment gate security solutions often make use of RFID or mobile-access configurations, as the frequency of residents moving in and out of these properties as well as the number of guests and delivery couriers requiring access means that credentials must be easily adjusted and monitored remotely.
The main difference for apartment gate security solutions compared to HOA gate systems is that instead of using the gate to secure an entire neighborhood, the entrance security system is likely used for parking garages or pedestrian gates attached to a single building.
Apartment blocks can benefit from integrated security solutions, with multi-residential building security cameras helping deter crime and mobile credentials allowing residents to access all on-site amenities without needing to carry multiple sets of keys or RFID cards.
Choosing an access control gate for school campuses
Security gates for school campuses can help improve student and faculty safety. When coupled with an active visitor management system and school security system, security staff are able to check the credentials of visitors, vendors and guests against watch lists to ensure that only approved individuals can enter the grounds. Commercial gated access control for universities and specialized facilities such as research laboratories can ensure that only authorized staff and students have access to the property.
Alternatively, many school campuses must remain open during the day and provide a welcoming environment. In order for K‑12 schools to better control access, gates can be programmed to lock after-hours, or in the event of an active emergency incident.
A security system for gates at schools can also provide staff with a reliable entry log used to account for all present individuals during natural disasters or other ongoing emergencies.
Security gate systems for commercial offices
Most commercial office spaces will make use of interior door access control to appropriately manage on-site security. However, the addition of an integrated front gate security system can help security teams to further protect the premises, especially during evenings, weekends and holidays.
By installing an outdoor gate entry system, office buildings can deter potential intruders outside of working hours. Plus, an access control gate provides additional benefits and insights for operating commercial buildings, such as improved parking solutions through the use of LPR technology leveraged to identify parking trends and improve space management. Large office complexes or shopping centers can also use access control gates to get a better understanding of peak hours to improve scheduling.
Integrations for controlled access gate systems
While the presence of any gate entry solution will improve the overall site security of most commercial and residential properties, developing a truly future-proof and scalable security strategy will often require property owners to consider how these systems are able to integrate with wider security systems.
Not only will an integrated security system help improve incident response times and act as an effective crime deterrent, but a well-managed and intricately planned network can make the management of key card gate access or entry gate systems a much simpler and efficient task.
Integrating with a video security system for gate access
Front gate security systems are often the first point of contact for authorized users and visitors, so having visual verification and recorded logs of activity there can help property managers better manage their buildings. Integrating gate entry systems with intercoms, license plate recognition cameras and video security systems adds additional levels of security. In addition, these integrated security gate systems provide more data and information, which can be used to optimize operations on the property, improve tenant satisfaction and inform important business decisions.
Automated gate entry systems with sensors and alarms
Particularly useful during emergencies, the inclusion of automated lockdown functions triggered by integrated on-site sensors and alarms can drastically improve incident response times. Sensors installed alongside the gated community security system can be programmed to send real-time alerts to security staff via connected smart-devices, warning admins of specific events such as attempted forced entries, jammed gates and vandalism.
For businesses looking to optimize vehicle traffic flow, sensors can also measure community gate access activity and provide detailed information on usage. Electric gate entry systems and HOA gate systems connected with alarms can also ensure residents can easily exit the property during an emergency, and provide instant access for first responders.
Front gate security system checklist
Taking into account the information covered in this guide, commercial property owners can narrow down their search for an ideal gate security system to those best-suited for their specific needs. Before deciding on the most appropriate solution, create a final checklist to ensure that all requirements are covered. Here are a few key points to include on your gate access system security checklist:
- Is the security gate system easy to use? Considerations here include installing readers at an appropriate height for pedestrians and cars, ensuring that temporary credentials can be issued to guests and making sure permissions for the gate access system can be easily adjusted.
- How will the system function during power outages? Properties may require alternative gate access control methods to be used in the event of a power or internet connection outage. Talk to your installer about a backup generator, failover responses and signal reliability for your outdoor gate access control devices.
- Consider support for multiple credential types. Choose a gate access control system that can support different credentials on the same device. This will future-proof your security gate system by ensuring that you won’t need to replace controlled access gate systems every few years to support the latest security trends.
- Choose a gate access control system that can record activity logs. To help develop a reliable access control system gate network, security teams must keep detailed logs of all property access. These records can be used to perform audits and identify potential intruders in the event of an emergency, as well as inform key business decisions based on usage or peak hours.
- Have lockdown functions been considered? Properties with multiple gated entrances will particularly benefit from this feature. Cloud-based management platforms allow admins to trigger a full site lockdown remotely if any one entrance point has been breached, and control electric gate entry systems to allow resident egress or open a specific gate for first responders.
- The importance of management software. Opting for a cloud-based gate security management system will often provide the greatest deal of flexibility, allowing admins to easily access all system data, adjust settings and permissions, update schedules and issue or revoke credentials remotely. Intuitive gate access control systems will make it easier to onboard new team members, and keep operational costs low as well.
The installation of a well-designed and planned commercial gate access control system can bring numerous benefits to commercial and residential properties, helping property owners better manage daily foot and vehicle traffic for staff, residents and visitors, as well as improve overall on-site security.
Choosing an appropriate system will require proprietors to consider how this technology fits into wider security networks, as well as which integrated features will be most beneficial for staff and tenants. With these factors in mind, planning and implementing a modern gate access control system can prove to be an essential investment in the future protection of all commercial and residential buildings.
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