Even those working in the security sector seem to confuse entrance control and access control, but Tony Smith says they're not the same.
Entrance control versus access control - what's the difference?
If you're responsible for security at your organisation you should know the answer to this question. But don't worry if you don't. Even those working in the security industry often incorrectly use these two terms interchangeably.
Even Google - if you search for 'entrance control' and 'access control' - returns pretty much the same results. But there are differences between the two that should be understood before you start looking for a security system to monitor and control who passes in and out of your building. The two are different but working in tandem they optimise security.
Access control: discriminating authentication
Access control is a broad term used to describe a system that identifies and authenticates users' credentials and determines whether or not to grant them permission to enter.
It's important to mention that we're only discussing physical access control here; systems that regulate who can access restricted areas - buildings, rooms and other assets.
Access control is a discriminating authentication process and comprises the software or hardware that defines the criteria for acceptance or denial of an individual.
Entrance control - such as security turnstiles - takes the output of that validation and has the capability to see whether that criteria is being adhered to and to respond accordingly.
Entrance control: keeping people honest
If access control verifies authorised people using their credentials - face, fingerprints, PIN number, fob, key card - and decides whether or not they are permitted access, entrance control is the system that enforces that decision by either opening to allow users to cross a threshold or remaining closed to bar entry and raise an alarm.
But some entrance control systems don't feature a physical barrier. For example, our Fastlane Optical turnstiles don't physically block an unauthorised person from passing through but do raise an alarm when someone fails to present valid credentials, alerting security staff that a breach has occurred.
These types of turnstiles are suited to environments that just need to delineate between the public and secure side of an entrance, with less need to physically deny unauthorised users entering.
It's also possible to capture video footage of any incidents, allowing security staff to identify users failing to abide by the access control system's rules, and using the footage to decide on the appropriate response. It could be a staff member failing to show his card before passing through, in which case he can be reminded of protocol. Or it could be an unidentified person who must be escorted from the premises.
Entrance control and access control in harmony
For optimum security, access control and entrance control should work together, with the entrance control system enhancing the use of the access control system, making it more efficient and better value for money. Consider the following when aligning these two systems:
- Understand the value of what you're protecting and the risks associated with an intruder gaining access to determine the security level required. Do you need to physically deter unauthorised access attempts, or just monitor the flow of people into/out of the building
- Don't dismiss an option based on the price alone. When looking at the cost of your entrance security system, consider also energy efficiency, maintenance requirements, reliability and warranty.
- Consider what other functions you might need your system to perform. As well as stopping unauthorised access, integrated entrance and access control systems can connect existing disparate technologies and deliver time and space efficiencies. Do you require a lift destination control to alert users to the lift they should use or perhaps you wish to connect CCTV or other building management systems?
Tony Smith is major accounts and marketing manager at turnstile manufacturer Integrated Design Ltd