Access Control– What’s That?

Access Control, Home Security, Key Control

Access control is a term that describes the security of your property. Google defines it as “selective restriction of access.” I’ll describe it like this: who goes where and when they go there! Access control is a blanket term describing products and services that allow you to effortlessly manage and restrict users’ access to any given property. Access control can be achieved using mechanical hardware or electronic products, and almost always improves the security of your property. It is a term that most commonly describes security solutions for businesses and commercial buildings, but can also apply to residential properties. “Wait, what?” There are three main categories for access control products: mechanical, high-security, and electronic. Allow me to explain…


When we say “mechanical,” we are talking about old-fashioned, boring old keys. Not skeleton keys or antiques, but simply standard traditional keys. Mechanical access control generally describes master key systems. A master key system is effective when you want to achieve levels to your security. For example, a manager’s one key might work the front and back doors, the manager’s office, and the supply closet. A janitor’s one key might work the front door and the supply closet. The employee’s key might only work the front door to open the store. Meanwhile, the owner’s key works all the doors in the building plus his other business office in a different city. These systems are convenient because you do not have to allow all employees the same level of access. This is access control.The downfall with traditional keys is that when you hand an employee or tenant a key, you are providing them with unmonitored access twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You also run the risk of that key being duplicated without your permission or knowledge.


With high-security mechanical hardware, you are able to implement a master key system with levels, as described above… plus you gain key control and added protection. The exact features depend upon the brand that you select. “Key control” is complementary and essential in achieving access control. Key control describes a restriction on the mechanical keys that are assigned to users. The keys will be unable to be copied by an unauthorized person. Only designated individuals will be able to copy keys to the system. Certain high-security lock systems also offer features such as kick-in protection and bump/pick/drill resistance.


Electronic products do all of the above and more, but instead of keys, users have tokens. A token can be a key card or a fob device. These tokens can be programmed to allow different levels of access. The added benefit here is that you can allow tokens to work only at designated times. So, that janitor’s token may only work on Saturdays from 7am-9am, when the company is authorized to come in and clean. The employee’s token works only from 7am-6pm just before and after normal work hours. The owner’s token will work 24/7. The great thing about electronic products is that if a user is terminated or loses their token, you can simply delete them from the system. If a new hire joins the team, simply add that new user. Most of these systems can be managed internally by an authorized representative of the site and require a laptop w/ WiFi and the appropriate program software. Some electronic systems are battery-powered, hardwired, or work off of WiFi. This means no monthly fees or additional expenses.


There is no “good, better, best” ranking when it comes to each type of access control. Selecting the perfect system truly depends on your facility’s unique needs.


Published on: Oct 10th, 2016
© Katelyn Radtke, Give-A-Hoot

**Give-A-Hoot Content is for information-purposes only and is not a substitute for specific security consultations. It is always best to consult with a professional specifically for your unique situation.