The best access control systems allow a business to secure their facility, controlling which users can go where, and when, along with creating a record of the arrivals and departures of folks to each area.
Gone are the days of having a facility not secured, or handing out physical keys to employees. With our uncertain times, security has become more important, and an access control system has become an integral part of any security plan for a facility.
security cameras, break in alarms, carbon dioxide detectors, and smoke and fire detectors.
What types of facilities will benefit from an access control system?
Many types of facilities deploy access control systems; really anyplace that would benefit from controlling access to various areas as part of the security plan. The types of facilities include governmental, healthcare, military, business, educational, and hospitality.
Are there other benefits?
In this era of ‘Big Data,’ another benefit of an access control system is that data on the movement of employees in facilities is tracked and stored. This can then be analyzed on an individual basis, and in aggregate. This data becomes particularly valuable when an incident occurs to see who was physically in the area at the time of the incident.
What does an access control system cost?
There are various costs to consider when acquiring an access control system. They can be broken down into the acquisition cost, and recurring costs.
First there is the cost of the hardware, which includes both the acquisition of the devices, and the installation costs as well. Also consider any modifications to the building structure that will be required, such as additional networking locations, or getting electricity to an access card reader.
The other costs are the subscription costs, which are a recurring expense. If purchasing the software outright, there will be upgrades down the road, and which need to be figured into the price. These days, many of the vendors supply the software through the cloud, with advantages of continuous upgrades at the back end, but then there is a requirement of a subscription to use the service, typically paid monthly or annually. Also, consider if a contract is needed, and for what length.
Also, as occurs in many enterprise purchases, the costs of an access control system are quite opaque when you go to the vendor websites. Thankfully, these firms are forthcoming with a custom quote, so be prepared in advance to assess your needs, such as the number of users, the quantity of openings to be protected, and other anticipated extras, such as security cameras or integrated fire protection to streamline getting a quote.
How we review access control systems
We took a look at many different access control systems prior to selecting which to include in this guide. The methods include looking at the available features of each product, including the support services, and available pricing.
A limitation is that we unfortunately cannot install these access control systems and use them firsthand. However, we endeavor to overcome this by scouring the internet, including social media, for user reviews. Also looked at are the Google Play Store, and Apple App Store for available apps, that can also be a treasure trove for user experiences for applicable apps. We especially attempt to identify trends in the reviews. When available, an online demo is downloaded and trialed to assess the software more directly.
In some cases, user support gets contacted on an anonymous basis to assess how responsive they will be to meet user needs.
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Access control systems comparison
This is how our recommended access control systems compare head-head-head in three crucial categories. You can read a short review of each below.
|Access Control System||System Type||Pro installation||Key features|
|Honeywell||Cloud-based||Yes||Choice of software, available custom integrations|
|Envoy||Cloud-based||Yes||Mobile app support, upfront pricing|
|Salto||Cloud-based||Yes||Wireless card readers, Virtual network|
|Bosch||Cloud-based||Yes||Scalable, wide range of hardware|
|HID||Local hosting||Yes||Real time monitoring, multiple form|
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