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What Is Access Control? A Chicago Security Expert Explains

Posted on October 23rd, 2019 by Alert Protective

Access control is a commercial security measure whereby a company manages employee and visitor access to a property through credentials and internal protocols. 

The most basic form of access control is a key that opens a lock. However, today’s access control systems are immensely more powerful, combining game-changing technologies like remote access, facial recognition and wireless/cellular connections. 

This article will answer some of the most common questions about access control, such as:

  • What industries or companies benefit from access control?
  • What can access control systems do, exactly?
  • What are the available credential types of a modern access control system?

This article is meant as a primer for anyone who’s considering access control for their Chicago property. Beyond that, speaking to a local access control expert is always the next best step. 

Alert Protective has been installing access control systems in Chicago for over 35 years. Our friendly security consultants can quickly bring you up to speed on the latest technology and devices. And when you’re ready, we’re also available to professionally install the equipment for you. 

Call us with any questions at tel:7736858383(773) 685-8383, or schedule a free consultation online today. 

Who benefits from access control? 

Any commercial property–whether it’s the headquarters of an international conglomerate or a mom-and-pop corner business–can benefit from an access control system. That’s the bottom line. 

That said, the scale of each access control system, along with the technologies each system is comprised of, will vary from business to business. 

A consultation with an experienced access control technician will offer much-needed insights into a property’s specific needs. But generally speaking, all of the industries below have problems which can be solved with an access control system:

  • Commercial and industrial facilities 
  • Professional service companies
  • Schools and universities
  • Municipal buildings for local, state and federal governments
  • Assisted living properties
  • Houses of worship
  • Hotels and resorts

What can access control systems do?

The goal of an access control system is security. Each system seeks to limit the movement of employees and visitors within a property to protect certain valuables, whether it’s data, products or people. 

So when we ask the question “what do these access control systems actually do, the answer is: they help manage people in order to protect company property. 

That’s the simplified version of what access control systems do. But this definition becomes more complex when we go into how they do what they do. 

Access control systems go hand-in-hand with commercial video surveillance.

Some of the most common means by which an access controls system achieves its ultimate objective of security include:

  • Credentials: When most people think of access control, a key fob or other form of “credential” is likely what comes to mind first. Credentials allow management to set security levels for individuals and groups. The earliest credentials were plain keys. Today, they’re much more varied (we’ll look at some of these in the next segment.)
  • Property schedules: Credentials are designed to allow individual access to a property. But access control also allows a property owner or manager to set building-wide access based on the time of day or day of the week. 
  • Remote access capabilities: Remote access lets property owners make split decisions about granting access to an individual, even when that property owner isn’t present in the building. This is especially important if, say, an employee sets off an alarm by accident. The property owner could easily receive the alarm notification, assess what happened, turn off the alarm and grant access to the employee without ever returning to the property. 
  • Lockdown and lockout modes: If an intruder is identified, a lockdown or lockout feature can close off specific areas to prevent that individual from reaching employees or company valuables. 

These are just a few of the ways that an access control system manages people on a commercial property. If you’d like a full assessment of access control features, don’t hesitate to give Alert Protective a call at (773) 685-8383.

What are the available credential types of a modern access control system?

Access control credentials have seen incredible advances in the last decade alone. Today, credentials can be broken down into three main types:

  1. Biometrics: With biometric credentials, the human body is the credential. Fingerprint scanning is perhaps the most well known form of biometric scan. But other forms of biometric access, such as scanning human eyes or mapping out the human face, are also widely available for use. 
  2. Personal mobile device access: Software installed on an employee’s mobile device has become a popular method of granting access to commercial properties. This form of access is less intrusive than biometrics. And employees tend to remember to bring their phones (unlike other access-granting items like badges and ID cards.) 
  3. Scannable objects: Many people are familiar with the use of a scannable object to gain access to a property. Some of the most common types of scannable objects include key fobs, ID cards and badges. Because these objects can be forgotten or lost, this form of access is quickly losing ground to biometric and personal mobile device access. 

Considering an access control system for your property? Alert Protective can help.

Access control is a powerful security tool for businesses and commercial property owners. If you’re on a path toward purchasing or upgrading to a new access control system, then Alert Protective could be an invaluable resource toward choosing the technologies and features which are right for your business. 

Schedule your free consultation with an access control expert today. Or call us with any questions you have. 

We look forward to hearing from you! 

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