Physical security is a field with wide-ranging applications and a bewildering array of options when it comes to implementation. Despite the broad scope, there are some bedrock concepts that it can boil down to. Security access control is perhaps the very center: it is the selective restriction of access to a space using authorization and credentials.
What does it mean in practice?
Access control is quite literally the front line for safety and security when it comes to your property. More than cameras or alarms, the gates and doors themselves are what block or grant access to a given person or vehicle in any situation. The gate or door can be controlled in a number of different ways, but the important idea is that it works in a simple and direct fashion.
Access can be controlled via locks and credentials, which are two ways of saying the same thing: they directly control who is granted passage through a given access point.
Locks are the oldest and simplest form of access control. Authorized users will have a key that opens the lock, and that’s as complex as it gets. However, credentials encompasses a wider variety of access control options.
Credentials can be anything from a code number that must be remembered, to a key card that must be carried, to biometric data that must be possessed for access. Electronic access control allows for a stunning variety of options here. Depending on the level of security necessary, you’ll choose the most appropriate type of credential for any given situation. Key cards and numbers can be lost and forgotten, but biometric data cannot yet be faked. However, with increasing technology comes increasing cost and complexity.
Security access control is thus a balancing act between practicality, cost, and effectiveness. As always, the most effective form of security will be the one that is actually used.
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