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Valuable Features to Consider When Navigating Access Control Solution Choices October 26th, 2022

Valuable Features to Consider When Navigating Access Control Solution Choices
TSPs must educate their clients on options and solutions for their operations’ needs.

Access control is vital for companies that prioritize protecting critical projects and data. Whether safeguarding buildings and employees, keeping top projects secret, or complying with government-mandated protocols, access control is an essential component of operational security.

As more businesses recognized the need to control access to their facilities, systems and data, companies worldwide spent USD 8.2 billion on access control solutions in 2021. Furthermore, the market is expected to grow to USD 12.6 billion over the next five years. 

Types of Access Control Systems 

Access control systems can generally be grouped into three different categories: 

Standalone or Autonomous Systems: Access control systems of this type do not need to be connected to an outside controller. All user access information is stored on the device and cannot be updated or controlled remotely. 

Online Systems: These systems are controlled by a central server. When an access request is made at a reader, the request is processed at the server where all the authorization levels are stored. 

Distributed Intelligence Systems: This type of access control system also uses a centralized server, but it primarily works as a communication facilitator between various control nodes. These systems allow for easy updates like the online systems but avoid the single choke point inherent in a system that relies on a single server. 

Challenges with Legacy Access Control Solutions  

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Legacy systems often require users to verify identity using a keycard or fob or entering a passcode or password. These access control solutions create several challenges for businesses and enterprises:  

- It’s easy to duplicate keycards with magstripes. Unfortunately, once someone duplicates keycards, you cannot know how    many exist or who has them.  
- If employees use the same passcode, there is no record of who has accessed the location. Sign-in sheets are either          voluntary or require the additional expense of resources to enforce sign-ins.  
- Lost keycards pose a security threat and require time and expense to reprogram locks.  
- Legacy systems typically don’t deny entry at certain times of the day. Anyone with the proper credentials can open doors or gates day or night.  

Additionally, access control strategies based on mechanical locks require different keys for each door, which means managers who need access to multiple rooms must carry multiple keys. Moreover, it’s easy to mislabel keys or lose labels, which can cause confusion and waste time, particularly if it’s vital to open a door quickly.  

Technical Considerations For a Modern Access Control Solution  

Technology solution providers (TSPs) can help clients overcome those challenges by upgrading solutions to meet their specific needs. For most clients, implementing an access control solution with distributed intelligence architecture, which has no single point of failure. However, you should discuss other solution features with your client and match them to the use case. Factors to consider include:   

1. Hardware: Ensure your clients choose the best types of door locks, keypads, and biometric readers for their operations.  
 
2. Degree of security: Access control systems vary greatly in cost and ease of use. Make sure you balance requirements for the use case and system complexity.  
 
3. Access method: Give your clients options of how users can authenticate their identities when requesting access and help them choose strategies that protect their facilities while streamlining processes. Clients may be familiar with keycards but may not have considered fingerprint authentication or leveraging mobile devices for access control. Educate them on each method and take a consultative approach to provide the best option.  

4. Integration: Learn how the solution needs to integrate with your client’s overall IT environment and ensure it can integrate with other systems such as CCTV and smoke and fire alarms.  

5. Communication between controllers: Access control systems not only have to communicate with other business systems –– but components should also communicate with each other. For example, a business may want to ensure a breach at one door locks all others. Also, ensure all communication between controllers is securely encrypted.  

A Decision Every Business Must Make  

Many businesses recognize the value of controlling access to assets, information, and facilities –– and as the threat landscape expands, it’s all the more critical. Businesses must take appropriate steps to limit access to their assets, intellectual property, and data.  

Use your tech and industry expertise to help your clients make an informed decision about the right access control system for their businesses and will provide the degree of security they need.  

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