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security turnstileOne of the most convenient, most secure ways to control access to a commercial building in Houston is by using an access control system. Before hiring a Houston access control company to design and install such a system, it is useful to learn how these systems work and what they are capable of doing.

Access Control Systems: The Basics

First, what is an access control system? Technically speaking, a basic door lock is a very simple type of access control system. When it comes to commercial-grade security, more advanced office security is necessary. High-tech access control systems are fairly ubiquitous, and they are popular not only for their superior security but for how easy and convenient they are to use.

Modern access control systems are typically computer-based and provide access to buildings via electronic access cards. In some cases, access codes are used instead of – or in conjunction with – such cards. While these systems are highly sophisticated, they are also designed to be as user-friendly as possible.

What is Included in an Access Control System?

While the exact components of an access control system may vary, most include the following:

  • Electric Lock Hardware – Electric locks and strikes are typically installed at the doors through which access will be controlled. This usually applies only to exterior doors, but some companies require access control for interior doors as well.
  • Card Readers – To allow people to access a building, card readers must be installed near the relevant doors. Some are proximity readers, which means the access cards can simply be waved near them. Others are insertion readers, which means the access cards must be inserted into them to be read.
  • Access Cards – Uniquely coded access cards take the place of keys in an access control system. They are distributed to business personnel who are authorized to have access.
  • Keypads – Whether they are used in place of card readers or in conjunction with them, keypads may be installed as a part of an access control system.
  • Field Panels – Access control field panels, or intelligent controllers, are used to connect card readers, lock hardware and other components to ensure the seamless operation of the system. The number of panels that are needed depends on the number of doors that will be controlled through the system. These panels are typically kept in utility closets.
  • Server Computers – Finally, access control server computers, which include databases and file managers, are used to program the system and to record activities. There is usually just one, and it is typically kept near the person who will be in charge of the system.

Setting Up and Programming an Access Control System

When a Houston business security systems provider comes out to install an access control system, the first step is assessing the needs of the company. Which doors need to be controlled? How many readers will be needed? Next, a location is selected for the access control panel. The electric lock hardware is installed, and wiring is connected to the panel. Finally, a location is determined for the computer, which will be used to program the system.

Setting up the system is generally fairly straightforward. The computer is used to define the parameters and to validate access codes. Clearance codes may be used to quickly assign predefined access privileges to large groups of users. To validate a card, the access card number, employee name and at least one clearance code must be provided.

These systems are capable of keeping activity logs of things like invalid access attempts and whenever doors are kept open too long. Furthermore, they can be programmed to automatically stay unlocked or stay locked for specific periods of time. In these and other ways, modern access control systems make it easy and convenient for businesses to maintain business security at all times.