Access Control/Keyless Entry, What’s the Difference?

Doug Fearing Security

Access Control/Keyless Entry, What’s the Difference?

1272489762What is an access control system or a keyless entry system?  No matter how many systems are installed each year, many still don’t really understand these systems and the benefits of using them.  There is one common reason for using these systems and that is to protect people, assets and property.

Access Control systems are about more than monitoring doors; they are an integral part of any security system and give users a convenient platform to manage their facilities. Traditional keys cannot track who or when people are accessing your building, and when keys go missing rekeying locks can be extremely expensive. Access Control systems solve all of these problems and many more, including:

  • Performing a facility or area lock down from any PC or card reader
  • Using motion detectors, glass breaks, door contacts, panic buttons to track and assign alarm conditions from a single interface
  • Calling up live video in the event of an alarm
  • Arming or disarming an intrusion panel via the access control system
  • Triggering a wide range of devices using auxiliary relay outputs to trip such items as sirens or strobes all based on certain events/conditions
  • Creating a map with active icons to annunciate system status, control doors, call up video, show employee photos as they pass through protected doors, and much more
  • Run a myriad of custom reports when you need to know who accessed what area and when

OK, but let’s really understand the difference between an Access Control System and a Keyless Entry System.  Opinions may vary, but, let’s give it a shot.  Don’t over think this concept.  When you think about true Access Control, consider the word “control”.  When thinking about Keyless Entry, while it accomplishes many of the same common items, Keyless Entry is typically used for small 1-2 door applications, where you just want to get the hard keys out of the employees’ hands and allow entry in to certain employees into your facility.  Some common applications where Keyless Entry Systems are used are; restaurants, shopping malls, multiple use business facilities, small businesses, some educational facilities, etc.

Let’s see, what are some advantages to true Access Control versus Keyless Entry?

Access Control usually means having a door position indicator and request to exit device, such as a motion sensor, push button, card reader, crash bar or another indicator to let us know someone is leaving the controlled area.  Keyless Entry typically just is concerned with who get’s in a controlled area.  Not typically worried about a door being left open too long, propped open, door alarms, etc.

Access Control provides multiple levels of card holder control permissions, information and reporting capabilities.  Keyless Entry Systems don’t concern themselves with all these levels of security and functionality.

I don’t want to get too deep into this, but want to give you some items to consider when upgrading or installing your first “Access” door entry system.  Both types of systems are viable and you should consider what your true needs are when making these decisions.  A security industry professional, such as Fearing’s, has the ability to help you make good decisions while determining your ultimate goals.  So, whether you are looking to do 1-2 doors, 20 doors or 500 doors, there are some good solutions available to you.  Make sure you seek an industry professional to further increase your knowledge of best practices.

Photo of access control options at Fearing's Audio Video Security in Madison and Milwaukee WI


There are some other factors to consider when determining the best way to have your system installed:

  • Does your local fire department have some restrictions on access control systems?
  • Does your company have existing policies that will determine best methods?
  • Would integrating your door entry system with your video surveillance system provide a benefit to your company?
  • Integrating an alarm system with your door entry system?  Highly recommended to reduce false alarms.
  • Does your company have multiple locations that could benefit from a global solution?
  • It is highly recommended to include the IT professionals in your organization involved with this solution and how it will be integrated, controlled and accessed.
  • Consider using an Electronic Visitor Management Software solution integrated with your access control solution and get rid of those hard copy sign in forms!
  •  Consider controlling rooms such as IT closets, drug storage rooms, critical file storage rooms and more.
  • Are there elevators in your building that should be controlled?
  • Is a proximity reader sufficient, or should you consider some dual authentication systems, such as adding biometrics, like fingerprint or retinal technology or maybe use an entry code technology?  This way it’s not just what you have on your body, but also what you know.
  •  Is a centrally managed system make the most sense for your business?  Let someone else manage your system, provide badges, run reports, manage your database.I hope this has given you some food for thought when it comes to evaluating your existing system or before you install a system to help you GET RID OF THE KEYS!!