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Access Control Levels

by Ron Kurtus (updated 23 November 2022)

There are various levels of sophistication in controlling the access to a company's building or location and unlocking an entry door.

These include manual entry with a key, remote electrical unlocking of a door, and computerized access control.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Manually unlocking door

At the lowest level of control, a door may be manually unlocked by the use of a key. In some cases a combination key-code is used to manually unlock the door.

The advantages of this configuration are the low cost, low maintenance, and simplicity.

Disadvantages of such a system are that keys can be lost or duplicates made, In locks may have to be changed when people leave company, and there is no record of who comes and goes. If a key-code is used, the code can be given to outsiders and the code may need to be changed when people leave the company.

Remotely unlocking door

Many facilities allow access to the building or room by having a guard press a buzzer which electrically and remotely unlocks the door.

The advantage of such a system is that control is given over who comes and goes. The guard can require a sign-in and a record is kept of people and times in the area.

The main disadvantage is that this system requires a guard to be available to open the door. Also, the security system is only as reliable as the guard.

Computerized control of lock

The third method to control access is computerized control. In this situation, a reader is required at the door, and the person must have a special card for the reader to scan. A computer processor decides if entry is allowed and then unlocks the door. A record of who enters and at what times can then be automatically recorded in a database.

Most large hotels use a simple version of this with their electronic pass-keys. Large companies use very sophisticated computerized access control systems.

The advantages are that entry schedules can be set to allow entry through select doors at specified times only to certain personnel, changes can be readily programmed in, and a complete record of activity is automatically kept.

Disadvantages include high cost of equipment and software and the dependency on high technology.


Access through a door in a facility can be controlled at a very simple level with a lock and key, with better control using a remotely controlled electrical lock, or by using a high tech computerized access control system.

Be logical in your approach

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