Card access systems have gone from high security military and government installations to common office buildings, security gates, and even private mailbox drops. The basic parts to a card access system are as follows: electric release of the door (either electric lock or strike), controller that holds the programming, reader to read the card’s ID, and the card itself.
a) Electric release/control of the door. The controller needs a way to release the door, this is done electronically through an electric strike that works with a mechanical lock, or an electrified lock that could be a lock with a solenoid or a magnetic lock. The security of the building hinges on this aspect, if the mechanical lock or electrification is easily by-passed, then there is no point in the rest of the system. This is why we recommend quality locks and electric strikes to attain a high level of security. Additionally it’s important to have a door closer on the door so that it will close after a valid entry. The door can also be monitored by the system and initiate some sort of alarm (sounder, light, or pop-up screen on a computer) if the door is “propped open” (past a certain time limit that can be chosen), or if the door is “forced opened” (opened even though the controller did not signal it to open, the lock/door has been by-passed or someone may have used a key).
b) Controller. The controller is a micro-processor with programming and memory. The programming may be performed through a keypad, or with a PDA, notebook, or a desktop. The programming is used to add and delete card holders, set schedules to control card holder access by day, time and even holiday.
The programming also can set limits on propped doors, routing alarms for various situations. The card holder data base may also hold various other data at the owner’s discretion (Car type/color/license, birthdates, departments, home phone numbers, etc.) that could be pulled up by security to confirm the card holder, or in other ways. Controllers today have non-volatile memory and retain programming in the event of a power outage.
c) Reader and card/credential. The reader depends on the chosen technology. The various technologies are magnetic stripe (un-secure), mag stripe with Wigand technology, Proximity (where the card is read at a distance from the reader), Smart card (similar to prox but more secure, storing biometric data, user defined formats, etc.), and multi-technology combining multiple formats. Instead of cards, there are key-fobs that can do the same function, but smaller and more durable. Readers can also be keypads, biometric (fingerprint, hand print, retinal etc.), or a combination of these. The data from the reader is encoded and transmitted to the controller.
Card access systems and access control
With rapid advances in technology today, many features of access control systems can be incorporated into a standalone system, or they can be simple one-code mechanical units.
Standalone access control locks are available in a variety of technologies (keypad, prox card, mag stripe cards), and variety of formats (mortise, cylindrical, deadbolt, etc.). Electronic versions may be programmed through the keypad on the unit, with a PDA or similar device, on a Wi-Fi network, or by plugging a notebook computer into the unit. The addition or deletion of users, changing access times/days, and downloading events, are all functions that can be performed.
Standalone may be a good solution for some situations. Please call for a consultation.
A remote release would be a button at a desk to release a door so visitors can enter. This would be the most basic access control, with the computer being replaced by the brain of a human. The button would power up an electric strike or electrified lock to release. They can be economical systems.
Intercom systems have come a long way with today’s technology. Video intercom systems are now economical. For multi-family housing, the main unit can dial phone numbers preset into the unit. So with cell phones, you could call the person and they could let you in, even if they aren’t even in the same city.
The intercom is attached to an electric strike or electrified lock that releases when powered up.
Delayed egress is a system used by retail/mall type stores or in dementia care facilities. The system is defined by an electronic lock that will hold the door locked for 15 seconds while the alarm sounds after activations.
For example, once the exit bar is pushed for more than a couple seconds, the alarm sounds and an irrevocable count-down begins. After 15 seconds, the door can be opened. In the event of a fire alarm or loss of power, the unit unlocks immediately. In retail these units are used for loss prevention from shop-lifters. In dementia care facilities, these units allow the staff to try to keep residents from leaving the facility un-supervised.
Delayed egress units can be an exit device, or magnetic lock with whatever door hardware exists. They need to be powered and require special power supplies in some cases, they can be connected to a variety of alarm systems, lights, buzzers, etc. they must be connected to the fire alarm system for the building. There are a variety of options for authorized use without the alarm, keypads or key switches can be integrated or even an access control system.