Although traditional lock-and-key systems are perhaps the most obvious way to secure a building, in this day and age there are better alternatives available. You may imagine that they are expensive, but access control systems are more affordable than you would think. More importantly, though, such systems offer multiple security advantages over regular lock-and-key systems.
The primary methods of high-tech access control involve the use of magnetic stripe cards, proximity cards, and contact smart cards. Here’s a run-down of the fundamentals of each of these systems:
- Magnetic stripe card – As the name implies, the magnetic stripe card system utilizes a plastic card with a magnetized strip on it, much like a credit card or ATM card. To gain access to a locked area, a card holder must run the card through a reader, the access control system equivalent of a lock. Magnetic stripe cards are the cheapest of the systems discussed here, although they are slightly less secure than the options discussed below. Of course, they are still more secure than traditional lock-and-key systems as they are more difficult to duplicate.
- Proximity card – Unlike magnetic stripe cards, proximity cards do not actually need to be run through the reader; they can simply be held near the reader. As a result, proximity cards experience less wear and tear than either of the other alternatives discussed here. Additionally, proximity cards have a longer range than either magnetic stripe cards or contact smart cards.
- Contact smart card – Because contact smart cards contain microprocessors, they are able to hold information in addition to that which is necessary for controlling access and egress from restricted areas. Systems utilizing this card type are more expensive than either of the options listed above. Also, the fact that this system involves direct contact between the card and the reader means that the cards themselves are subject to more wear and tear than proximity cards.
All of these electronic systems have a number of advantages over regular lock-and-key systems. Using traditional lock-and-key security makes rekeying necessary from time to time. In fact, to be on the safe side, ideally locks and keys should be replaced every time that a key holder’s access is revoked (i.e., an employee quits) and every time that a key is misplaced. However, rekeying an entire building can be an expensive undertaking and thus many building owners sacrifice security in exchange for short-term savings. Fortunately, with access control systems it is possible to avoid the unwanted recurring cost of rekeying by simply revoking an individual card’s access privileges.
Another important advantage of electronic access systems is that they allow for more specific control of movement than old-fashioned locks and keys. That is, individual cards can be programmed to grant entry only during specific time windows or only on certain days.
Finally, one of the most basic advantages to magnetic stripe cards, proximity cards, and contact smart cards is that they are all more difficult to duplicate and redistribute than traditional keys. A similar additional benefit is that, unlike regular locks, card readers cannot be picked.
In general, electronic access systems offer an increased level of security in comparison to systems utilizing traditional locks and keys. Thus, if you’re looking to make a security investment that yields long-term savings, you should upgrade your regular lock-and-key system to a more advanced access control system.A qualified Locksmith in Dallas can help you to upgrade your regular locks.