OK, if you have your PSP, this is probably basic to you, but it might not be if your expertise is more in the video side of our industry. I wanted to run through the basic levels of access control and touch on the concept of “medium” security.
On a mechanical door lock hardware side, you have three basic grades of security that are assigned by the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association, which works with ANSI standards, so these are not grades placed on a whim. I’m not going to try to explain the grades when I can quote Ingersoll Rand/Schlage, so here’s the quick summary on those grades, pulled straight from the Schlage website:
Grade 1 certification – Highest Grade Security. Grade 1 is the strongest grade that ANSI/BHMA will supply for any Residential or Commercial product.
Grade 2 certification - Highest Residential Security. Designed and built to offer excellent security and durability for most residential applications and some light commercial applications.
Grade 3 certification - Basic residential security. Grade 3 is the lowest grade provided by ANSI, the minimal acceptable quality for residential door locks.
OK, so those are your levels of door locks. Personally, I recently upgraded from a Grade 3 to a Grade 2 lock on my house, and it’s good stuff, but I wouldn’t recommend it for most businesses – although plenty of businesses do use Grade 2. If you want more discussion on that, you won’t find it in this column. If you want that, I’ll point you back to Schlage’s professional website which does a nice job talking about key attributes of Grade 1. Now, let’s move beyond Grade 1, 2 and 3, and talk low security vs. high security.
The conversation came up right before the ASIS tradeshow with Martin Huddart, the vice president for electronic access control at ASSA ABLOY. Martin and I were discussing where wireless lock technology (ASSA ABLOY has a significant variety of products in this increasingly popular area) falls into commercial security. The conversation moves beyond ANSI/BHMA grades and becomes a discussion of low security vs. high security and what lies in between.
Martin’s point is that low security is basic door locks operated by a key. They’re effective and strong, but they don’t track who opened them and also you have to consider that keys can be copied.
High security, he said, is what you have when you deliver electronic access control with a keycard system. If it’s a real-time system, it logs instantly who just accessed that door, and it supports rights-based permissions, and can also have sensors on whether the door is open or closed.
But what’s in between? Martin would suggest that high security is often “too high” for some end users’ needs even while basic door locks are “too low” for those same end users. What differentiates the two, he said, is that real-time reporting element and also the element of user identification. (There’s also a major differentiator in terms of labor, hardware and wiring needed at the door, I’d argue. Consider the cabling, power, readers, magnets and more that are part of a high-security door tied to a card access system – versus the elegant simplicity of simply mounting hardware on a mortised door.)
Low security door access neither provides an audit trail of when the door was accessed nor does it tell who accessed that door. High security provides those audit trails in real-time and allows you to instantly change door access permissions. If you add those audit trails in and also add door access permissions (and even door position), but you don’t always managed those audit trails in real-time, then you arrive at medium security. This fits the kind of technologies where the card becomes the carrier of the information or where the systems can connect over wifi. On the hardware end, the units are somewhere between a basic door lock and a full-fledge card access door point. The PIN pad or card reader is usually mounted on the door stile itself.