Redefining Access Control

Mar 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Larry Anderson

Our exclusive survey ponders the changing role of access control as the security industry converges and transforms.


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Here are some ways that access control is changing in today's security systems:

  • It is becoming higher-profile.

  • It is able to offer more useful information.

  • It is becoming more closely aligned with a company's core business.

  • How important is access control?

    It is becoming more affordable for companies of all sizes.

  • It is, and will continue to be, core to a broader security system.

Evolving from a history of door locks and gates, the term “access control” in recent years has come to include technology innovations such as keypads, biometrics, smart cards and computer systems based on Internet protocol (IP). However, the basic idea of controlling access has been a constant, even as the many ways it can be achieved have multiplied, and even as it has become dependent on — and integral to — the broadest view of security's role in an enterprise.

“Access control's role hasn't really changed,” says Bill Stern, IT manager, ESSI. “Its main function is to control entry. The way it accomplishes this task has changed. Electronic security's convergence with information technology (IT) has made a change in the way access control works. IP and wireless access control have made the installation much easier and flexible. [Improvements will make] access control even more effective and easier to use.”

To understand exactly how the role of access control is changing, Access Control & Security Systems surveyed users, integrators and suppliers to gather opinions and commentary. This article summarizes the results of that survey and, in the process, looks ahead to what role access control will continue to play in security systems, now and in the future.

One way that access control is important is that it largely provides the “face” of a security system. Anthony L. Clark, supervisor, system security, RiverLINE Light Rail Transit Systems, comments: “It is the first thing that the employee sees of the security effort. It sends the message that this company is attempting to provide a safe working environment.”

Even beyond appearances, respondents see access control's role as critical.

“Access control is the most critical step of securing a facility,” says Dave Williams, director of national accounts, Brivo Systems LLC. “Keeping unwanted people out of the building and being able to limit who has the ability to go where and when in a business is key to any organization's level of success and accountability.” Here is another opinion from Brivo: “From managing access to business by their customers to providing valuable audit trails and marketing information, access control systems can provide real security while providing a means to reduce cost and even generate new streams of revenue,” says Reuben Orr, Brivo director of business development.

By providing “safety and security for all,” access control can “result in a better mindset to the rest of the company, which in turn increases productivity,” says Cliff Barber, security manager, Sea-Launch LLC.

“It is the gatekeeper and identifies who may enter or not,” adds Stern of ESSI. “More importantly, in most systems, it keeps a record of who, when and where an entrance through the system was made.”

It “allows control and surveillance of persons depending on sensitive areas and authority levels. It safeguards information and helps comply with Sarbanes-Oxley,” says Keith Ladd, CEO, The Protection Bureau.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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