6 Best Ways to Improve a Building’s Access Control System

Last Updated on August 2, 2022 by Josh Mahan

Whether your building’s access control system needs an upgrade, you’ve been considering installing one, or there was an event that warrants a change, the time to evaluate your security and procedures is now.

Access control is a critical part of a complete security plan. Keep these six key things in mind to improve your existing access control system or when implementing new security measures.

Related: Security Technology: Future Trend Guide

Evaluate the Features You Have & the Features You Need

First, think about what you need your access control system to do — does your current setup hit every mark? Too often, facility managers will choose a system based on how it looks and the verbal information they receive instead of looking at the specific features they need for their day-to-day challenges.

It’s important not to pick a building access control system based on how it looks; instead, look at the features it has. Consider factors like:

  • The areas of your building that need access control
  • When people will use it to gain access
  • How many people need to access separate levels
  • How it will fit into other security components you have in place

Access control is about having a balance between convenience and security. You need to foster an environment that lets the right people into the right places at the right time.

Determine All of Your Necessary Access Levels

Everyone doesn’t need access to your entire building. Before you determine who should have access to where look at your building to identify what areas will require different access levels.

You can take a map of your building and break it down into different zones based on what level of security is needed for each one. Then, determine the access level each area will require and set any time or date restrictions for that access.

Typically, it makes sense for most staff to enter through the main door so you can easily monitor who comes and goes. Determining their access after entry is up to employee supervisors and facility managers.

You should also always have a paper trail of who signed off on each employee’s access level so that, if an incident occurs, you know who authorized that employee to get into a certain area.

It’s a good idea to automate the process and connect your access control system to an HR database — that way, when an employee gets fired or quits, their access will get revoked immediately.

Review Who Has Access

It’s not uncommon for organizations to have more access cards than employees. To avoid this, facility managers must audit their system or implement features to timeout old cards. You can do this by:

  • Shutting off access to a card if it isn’t used in the building for a specific amount of time
  • Setting the card to self-expire after a period of inactivity
  • Connecting the card to the human resources database

Related: What Are Smart Buildings?

For better control over who goes in and out of your building, you should also have employees swipe their cards upon entering and leaving.

Giving the right level of access to vendors and contractors can be challenging. Some companies still have active cards with contractors they used years ago. Best practices dictate that you should disable contractor access every two to three months — you can re-enable their cards after if needed.

Visitor badges should clearly identify people as guests, and their access cards should automatically expire at the end of each day.

Keep Your Tech Up-To-Date

Most security experts agree that technology like proximity readers should not be used — if you still use 125-kilohertz technology, it’s time to upgrade. These systems can get compromised easily, and replicating the cards is not difficult. Instead, building owners and managers should consider installing encrypted technology.

They need to stay on top of vulnerabilities — the whole point of access control systems is to limit who can enter your building. If you use old systems, the time to upgrade is now.

Typically, you want to budget for access control system upgrades about every ten years; technology can become obsolete quickly. While many building owners think access control technology is a one-time investment, it’s simply not true.

It’s also crucial to stay current on software, checking for updates regularly. 

Improving building access control systems

Assess Your Access Control System Regularly

Do you regularly test the systems in your home, like security features, smoke alarms, etc.? You need to test your building’s access control system the same way.

Ensure all devices function as they should, and pay special attention to perimeter door alarms. Monthly testing is ideal, but you should test them at least quarterly — it’s the only way to ensure that every part of your access control system is functioning properly.

Keep a Security Mindset

Tailgating — when someone follows an authorized person into a building — is one of the biggest weaknesses in access control systems. Holding the door for someone seems polite, but it can be risky. Educate your employees not to hold the door open — everyone that enters or exits the building needs to use their access card.

In addition, many buildings with secure entry systems lighten up their security measures once you get inside. Many times, no one will challenge someone that’s already in the building because of the difficulty of getting inside — they assume because it’s so secure that no unauthorized person could get in the building.

The solution is ID badges: the cornerstone of your facility. They show people that you belong there, and those without ID badges should be challenged and questioned about why they are in the building.

Related: Information & Communications Technology

Keep Your Building’s Access Secure With C&C Technology Group

At C&C Technology Group, we help organizations plan and build integrated workplace security systems. From small businesses to Fortune 100 companies, we bring the best technology to implement high-tech security solutions like video surveillance and access control systems, security consoles, and more to build the most secure, holistic security systems.

Is it time to improve your building’s access control system? Reach out to our access control experts to get a customized solution for your organization.

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