What is An Access Control System?

An access control system is a security system that controls who or what has access to a physical or electronic ‘space’. It also manages different levels of access to an environment and identifies those individuals. Most access control systems take a user’s identifier as an input, verify their level of access to an environment and then allow entry based on that assessment.

Business owners are so focused on increasing profits, improving customer service, boosting SEO etc that the security of their premises, their stock and even their staff can sometimes be low on the list of priorities. Access control can protect your property, your employees and help keep your commercial enterprise running smoothly. Access control systems may even prevent compliance breaches of the new GDPR rules that came in to effect in May 2018.


Security input access

What Are The Different Types of Access Control Systems Available?

1. Standalone Access Control System

This type of system may be used to control access on one or more independent doors in a building. Access is gained by using a numeric code or PIN with a keypad, or by presenting a proximity or magstripe token, depending on which type of reader is fitted. These systems are programmed at each door. If tokens need to be barred or codes changed, this action must be completed at every door on the system.

Typical applications include:

  • Small business premises
  • Sports clubs
  • Storage units
  • Any small or medium-sized site requiring access control

Standalone systems are great for smaller sites with a relatively small number of users, token management is simple, and the system can be extended easily as your requirements change.

2. PC Based Access Control System

Referred to as ‘PC based’ or ‘Networked’ access control, these systems may be used to control one or many doors in a building. Access is gained by using a numeric code, a PIN with a keypad, by presenting a proximity or magstripe token or by ‘possession’ with hands-free tokens depending on which type of reader is fitted. PC based access control offers central control, via a network.

This means that commands given at the PC are sent to each of the doors. A token can be barred from all of the doors instantly. Another benefit of this type of system is flexible control, allowing you to grant different permissions for individuals or groups of users. Reports may also be generated to see who went where and when. Many systems allow control of additional buildings via existing LAN/WAN. PC based systems are increasingly being used to control other services within buildings, for example, intruder alarms, fire doors, lifts and lighting.

Typical applications include:

  • Small/medium premises
  • Large corporate premises
  • Multiple-site premises
  • Government buildings
  • Universities
  • Sports clubs
  • Car parks

PC based systems are great for medium to large sites grants the straightforward management of a large number of doors and users. The system can be extended very easily. Advanced features such as event reporting and integration with CCTV and other systems make such a system much more than just a replacement for a bunch of keys.

What Are The Benefits of Having an Access Control System For My Commercial Building?

Convenience and Ease of Use

One of the biggest benefits of access control systems is their convenience and ease of use while maintaining the highest security standards. Prior to electronic systems, if metal keys were stolen or lost, the inconvenience and expense of changing all the locks were considerable. Keys can also be copied, which compromises security. Electronic access control systems offer solutions to these challenges as key fobs or cards can be issued quickly and can be easily barred from the system if lost or stolen. This can be particularly useful for businesses with high staff turnover. Granting access through cards or key fobs and removing access once employees have left, can be simple, quick and inexpensive.


This allows an extreme element of control where users can be allowed in specific areas of the building only at specific times which helps a company to ensure that the right people have access to the right areas of a building at certain times.


As well as controlling when and who can access a specific area, access control records who accesses an area when allowing full visibility if there is a security breach. It may sound a little big brother but with such stringent data regulations, this level of control is necessary especially for companies who deal with sensitive data. It can also help with keeping track of employees coming and going as well as office initiatives, such as flexi-time or hot-desking.

Integration & Management

Access control can help to streamline internal processes by allowing business owners and security to view the premises remotely. Some systems can also offer face recognition and if someone who is not deemed as an employee is within the building outside of certain hours, automatic triggers can be set. Access control works seamlessly with the alarm system and security cameras feeding into a central database allowing some companies to even directly link to the emergency services.

Basically, access control can save a company money by working as part of their wider workforce management monitoring employees and can be used to control systems and improve the data analytics of the workplace. The data it produces can be used in many ways to improve the efficiency of the workplace.

What Are the Different Types of Key Card Readers Available?

There are 3 different types of key cards that can be used to enter Commercial premises:

Proximity Key Cards and Fobs:

  • These entry systems use a low-frequency wave for short range access, where you tap the card on a keyless entry system

Long Range Key Cards and Fobs:

  • Here a high-frequency radio wave is utilised so that entry can be gained from a distance.

Swipe Cards With A Magnetic Strip Or Microchip:

  • These cards have embedded access codes and so requires a swipe reader.

What Is The Future of Access Control Systems?

According to a report from Gartner, a research and consulting company, in 2016 only 5% of companies used smartphone technology to gain access to offices and commercial premises. By 2020 they predict that 20% of companies will stop using physical access cards and instead use smartphones. David Anthony Mahdi, Research Director at Gartner said:  

Today, the increasing availability of mobile and cloud technologies from many physical access control system (PACS) vendors will have major impacts on how these systems can be implemented and managed.”

Mobile apps can use Bluetooth technology to communicate between the smartphone and electronic locks. The user then presents a mobile phone to the relevant lock to gain access to the building. The benefit of smartphone technology is that encryption can be used, thereby preventing cloning. In addition, users can receive new ‘keys’ via their mobile anytime, anywhere.

Access Control & GDPR

In May 2018 new EU Data Regulations came into practice which forced business to rethink their security practices. Up to 60% of companies are unable to establish who can access data that is sensitive. The Ponemon Institute conducted a study that found 62% of employees surveyed had access to company data that they shouldn’t see.

GDPR covers everything from electronic data to paper files. Many companies saw GDPR as only protecting customers’ data especially in the case of online and IT infrastructure and felt they had covered the new data laws by password protecting and setting up authentications in terms of their IT infrastructure. However,  if you leave customers’ data laying around in paper form in an office environment, this is still classed as sensitive data and you can still be in breach of GDPR.

If you want to secure your property but aren’t sure that access control is right for you, contact BM Security for a free security review. We will tailor the solution to your needs. Recognised for providing the highest quality advice and workmanship across the security industry, our customers return to us because they recognise that a friendly, professional and cost-effective service is hard to come by. At BM Security you can rely on us to protect your home and business

(References: Paxton, Apefireandsecurity, Specopssoft)