Access Control Systems


Simply defined, the term "access control" describes any technique used to control passage into or out of any area. The standard lock that uses a brass key may be thought of as a simple form of an "access control system".

Over the years, access control systems have become more and more sophisticated. Today, the term "access control system" most often refers to a computer-based, electronic card access control system. The electronic card access control system uses a special "access card", rather than a brass key, to permit access into the secured area.

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Electric Locks

Electric lock hardware is the equipment that is used to electrically lock and unlock each door that is controlled by the access control system.

There are a wide variety of different types of electric lock hardware. These types include electric locks, electric strikes, electromagnetic locks, electric exit devices, and many others. The specific type and arrangement of hardware to be used on each door is determined based on the construction conditions at the door.

In almost all cases, the electric lock hardware is designed to control entrance into a building or secured space. To comply with building and fire codes, the electric lock hardware never restricts the ability to freely exit the building at any time.

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Access Control Panels

Access control field panels (also known as "Intelligent Controllers") are installed in each building where access control is to be provided. Card readers, electric lock hardware, and other access control devices are all connected to the access control field panels.

The access control field panels are used to process access control activity at the building level. The number of access control field panels to be provided in each building depends on the number of doors to be controlled. Access control field panels are usually installed in telephone, electrical, or communications closets.

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Optional System Enhancements

In some cases, it may be desirable to lock and unlock doors automatically. This is often done on buildings which are open to the public during the day, but are closed at night. In these cases, automatic locking and unlocking eliminates the need for a person to perform this function manually.

In some cases, it is desirable to have door status monitoring on doors which are not card reader controlled and not automatically locked. A door that is connected to the access control system for monitoring purposes only is called a "monitored door".

To create a monitored door, a door position switch is installed on the door and wired into the access control field panel.

When a monitored door is opened, it reports to the access control system server computer. The actions to be taken when the door is opened can vary depending on how the system has been configured.