Practical applications of access control systems

Access control systems are used to allow and restrict access to personnel based on a security clearance, a job role or seniority. Government buildings, hospitals, police stations, council offices and multinational corporations all use a form of access control at points in the building, to keep people safe and to keep data secure. While anyone can walk in to a hospital, the doors to wards and treatment areas are controlled by a keypad or RFID fob operated access control system, ensuring only authorised people can gain entry. Buttons to control the doors can be used to allow reception staff to grant access to visitors or patients, and they can also be used to allow anyone to leave an area through an access controlled door.

Police stations have several sensitive areas including cells, interview rooms, offices and evidence storage and therefore, access is severely restricted to these areas. Members of the public may be able to walk in to the main reception area of a public police station, but they will not be able to go any further without being accompanied by a staff member. Evidence rooms are especially sensitive, as they store information and articles that will be used to aid a conviction and therefore cannot be open to everyone. Allowances to access the evidence room may not be granted to junior officers or new hires; often only a few people have access to the area, with supervision from another staff member to ensure the security of the area.

In a small organisation which is not open to the public access, control can be used to keep sensitive data and electronic equipment out of the reach of some employees. A server room is a good example of a place where access control systems can make a big difference. Data stored on the servers is valuable and of course hackers could work on gaining virtual entry, but sometimes employees themselves can cause issues with good intentions. Someone could go in and restart a server if they think there is a problem, and improper procedures could cause huge issues. If only the senior IT and management staff have access, this type of incident can be prevented. The server itself could be physically taken from the premises and sold or mined for data, so it is important that there is extra security in this area. It also protects should burglars gain access to the main building; it will be much harder for them to get into the server room and cause even more damage.

We see access control systems every day without realising it. Every shop you go in will have a staff area that is out of bounds to the public. There was a time when a simple “staff only – no unauthorised access” sign was sufficient to keep people out, but nowadays even small stores use access control to stop people from entering stock areas and places where cash may be kept. Large stores may have a security guard, who could be considered as a form of access control as they will physically stop someone gaining entry if they are not allowed in – nightclub doormen are a good example of a physical access control system – if your name’s not down, you’re not coming in.

On a domestic level we can consider a timer-locked safe as an access control system. These items are usually a novelty item given to people who eat a few too many biscuits, or who like a stiff G&T of an evening to help them cut down. A timer is used to set the length of time the item is to be out of access for and the safe will not open until that time has passed, thereby controlling access to the item. These types of small access control systems are also used to help manage medication, as people with memory problems may forget they have taken their pills and end up accidentally taking an overdose. A timer lock will ensure they cannot access their medication until it is time to take it.

Do you need an access control system in your business or home? Give us a call on 01905 799949 today, to see how we can help you.