Query the Access Control Expert

Oct. 27, 2008
Meeting Client Criteria

Q: My client is a small to mid-sized business. It is the client's first real venture into electronic security. I suggested a manageable access control system is probably the place to begin. Can you help me go over the different areas I should cover with the customer to make sure the system they choose meets all requirements?

A: Wonderful strides have been made in access control and security management. Powerful PC-based software is available for intelligent door control, photo ID badging, CCTV interface, visitor and vehicle management, elevator control and much more.

Consider what the people in the building will think about access control. Put together a sheet explaining the importance of security for employees as well as employer; hold a meeting where questions can be answered and get everyone on your side.

Before you select an access control system, decide how the building will operate. One of the first parameters to set is timing. When and where will people have access?

Also, will the system utilizethe organization's computer network or will there be a dedicated network for security? Have you consulted with the network administrator to discuss requirements and issues?

Doors being propped open are the single largest weakness in an access control system. How will you handle “door propped open” alarms? These and many similar functions need to be set to attain the individuality that makes the system work.

Most small companies have someone administering the access control system in addition to other duties. What process or methodology will you use to train the person or people who administer the system?

To badge or not to badge is another consideration. If the company has more than 100 employees or where a lot of visitors are common is the time for your client to think seriously about badging. Remember, however, badges are only valuable if they're enforced.
Here is a quick checklist of several other items:

• Which doors will be protected?

• Will existing door hardware support electronic access control?

• What type of exit devices will be used?

• Any special ADA considerations?

• Who will administer entry and deletion of cardholders, initial distribution of cards and system operating parameters?

• How will you name readers and other devices so that they can be easily identified?

• How will the system operate on holidays?

• What doors will lock and unlock automatically and when?

• What information will be captured in the employee database?

• How many locations will the system be administered from?

• Will all operators of the system have the same level of access?

• What reports will be required?

• How will the database be

• What process will be used when an employee is terminated?

• Are there any high security areas which require special consideration?

• What type of readers will you use? Will you use keypads (pin) in any locations?

• Will the system interface or integrate with any other systems in the facility?

• Will certain alarms be routed to specific locations for monitoring? Will the system be required to report alarms off-site?

• Will the system use graphical maps/floor plans?

• How will the system react to a power failure?

• Is any license or certification required?

Jerry Cordasco is vice president and general manager of Compass Technologies, Inc., Exton, PA.