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Access granted. How can access control help deter unwanted intruders?

ANALYSIS, Facilities Management

It's not unusual for a building to house a combination of business, residential, retail outlets and leisure facilities.

This 'mixed-use' concept is showing no sign of slowing down. With each individual entity concerned about who has access to its square meters, mixed-use buildings are helping to fuel the growth of access control systems in the region.

Technologically, access control is a secure system that monitors objects or people throughout a building, effectively providing electronic records of when and where users enter and exit.

Security personnel can help regulate and monitor access control by ensuring each authorised person carries their access card with them at all times. Visitors can be asked to report to reception and given a visitor's pass, only allowing them access to certain areas.

But access control isn't just about technology and systems. Technology is only as effective as the person using it. With this in mind, FMs need to make sure the person using the equipment has received the right training.

FM's should also consider the possibility of a security breech. With well-trained security personnel, if an intruder is observed by CCTV, or an alarm triggered, security guards may be able to contain the problem, locking down access and trapping the intruder.

If access cards are issued and used correctly, FMs will be able to monitor movement within a building. As technology develops and is updated, more intricate and advanced methods of security are being implemented in access control systems.

Radio frequency identification, (RFID) is used as an automatic identification method. It stores and retrieves data using devices called RFID tags or transponders. The tags can be attached to an object, animal or person for identification or tracking purposes and work via radio waves.

When coupled with smart cards, RFID can have up to eight lines of information that can be linked to various technologies. High-frequency RFID tags are being used in building access control, replacing previous magnetic strip cards with proximity cards.

Proximity cards could be described as 'intelligent access control cards'. They can automatically detect when authorised personnel are approaching the building and validate their entry.

Another form of advanced access control is biometrics. This is an elaborate security system that typically analyses unique traits of an individual in order to authorise access. The accuracy of a biometric system is its selling point, as it can scan fingerprints, irises, measure hands or even detect and analyse a person's voice patterns.

In a region where development is on the rise, access control is a security measure FM's must consider.

Alex Carmichael

Job title:
Technical and membership support services director

British Security Industry Association

With an electronic engineering background Based In: Worcester, UK

Responsible for:
Co-ordinating all technical, quality and membership support matters within the Association.

Responsible for Areas:

A professional risk assessment should be undertaken to establish the extent of the risk to a premises and security measures should be tailored to reflect that risk.

The British Security Industry Association advocates a holistic approach to security, building up layers of security solutions. Such solutions include physical security measures such as locks, fencing and gates; electronic security measures including alarms, CCTV and access control; and security guarding services.

Access control can play a vital role in this holistic approach as it is an extremely versatile security solution which can protect certain areas of the premises from unauthorised access and can even be tied into facilities management functions such as fire roll call. For residential premises, an access control system can provide peace of mind that access by an individual can only be sanctioned by someone within the building.

It is vital that security officers are trained to use the technology that is installed on a site. On most premises, CCTV, access control and intruder alarm systems will be key tools in ensuring that security officers can effectively react to and prevent incidents on site. They should be given regular refresher training when maintenance visits are made or when equipment is upgraded.

By integrating security solutions into one management system, a business can benefit from a flexible approach to security that makes the most of all the technologies available. This will mean that a security officer only has to deal with one system instead of, for example, three or four.

The technologies that can be integrated into one system include: access control; time and attendance monitoring; visitor management systems; CCTV; intruder alarms; fire detection equipment; and external perimeter detection, amongst others. By harnessing the potential of all these technologies into one system, a security officer will have all the necessary information easily available to him when an incident occurs.

Technology is ever developing and this is having a huge impact on the security industry. New technologies such as biometrics and video analytics as well as the increased use of Internet Protocol have resulted in the industry harnessing such technologies and developing new products with increased reliability and functionality.

George Psoulis

Job title:
Business development manager

Impro Technologies


A degree in marketing, studied in ICT and merged the two together.

Responsible for Areas:
Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe

There are three levels of security in access control. The front end is the readers and the locking systems that prevent intruders entering a building. The second is monitoring intrusions, more specifically people in a particular area without authorisation.

The main feature of the access control is integrating in other aspects of security such as CCTV or intrusion systems that interlink with one another, therefore you have a single control point for security and FM managers to get a full report.

Recent advances in technology have enhanced access control and Intelligent and accurate hybrid systems a mixture of fingerprint scans, hand measurements and iris scans are now being utilised for security measures by various corporations. The inclusion of RFID and smart technology has also made a significant mark in the security world.

Access control must be managed quite carefully to check there are no loopholes or any external threatening points to disable intruders from bypassing the system. Set up in a correct manner, access control is a very secure platform for any commercial or residential sector.

The idea of an electronic security system is actually to cut down on man-power. By doing this you are able to invest in a security system that does not need a salary and operates 24 hours a day without any sleep. The idea is to minimise your staff count, and maximize your efficiency in terms of security.

It's far beyond locking a door with an electronic system. Depending on the level of security or the facilities manager, access control is an immensely intelligent system that requires trained staff to oversee its operations and ensure it is successful.

The future of access control's development is already showing its signs. 'Intelligent access control', allows you to access a building without the use of smart cards. Linking the access control system with CCTV security is the backbone, as CCTV cameras can pick up and identify somebody un-approached to a single door or a particular area.

But the basic swipe card proximity will never ever die, it is a very basic high level of technology and more importantly it's an affordable security measure.

Sanjit James

Job title:
Managing Director


Masters in Business Administration, set up security solutions company Wipaq. Planning to expand the company very soon.

Responsible for:
The Middle East and Africa.

Based in:

With the boom of high-rise buildings in the region it is imperative that a security system be installed in s building.

The range is vast from high end systems to the most basic security systems such as an intercom facility, where visitors will call the host to access their property.

There are facilities such as CCTV installed in mixed-use developments, and in particular cases for commercial properties, an internal CCTV system can be installed to grant access.

Bypassing security systems is always a possibility. For example, switching and stealing swipe cards. However, it's really a matter of the density of the security setup in the building.

By increasing and reinforcing security systems, adding CCTV and security personnel authentication, it will be near impossible to bypass. It's a matter of security measures and the importance of implementing security in area that requires it.

Security professionals must also be trained to use technology and equipment otherwise the technology is not effective. For example, if it's important for a company to install an access control system in a building, then it is just as important to have security trained to operate the system. Half of a successful security system is based on the training of staff alone.

Generally, there are three levels of security, starting with an intercom facility and a CCTV access control system. The second level is comprised of a human personnel authenticating access by identifying visitors. The third level and the most developing, is high security.

Government authorities, armed forces, airports and commercial corporations integrate a biometric identification security system. Evidently, this will become the future of access control, as technology grows access control will become a secure system essential for all properties.

Mark Rogers

Job title:
Company Security Officer

DP World

London and Dubai

Career in defense and corporate security spanning almost 27 years. Presently active in international strategic, security programs.

The effectiveness of any security system depends on the nature of the property and the management controls in place. Effective security management of access controls can not guarantee 100% safety, however while preserving security access control you are more likely to ensure a safer environment and provide a effective means for the detection of a criminal or intruder.

Some of the most common systems are electronic equipment locking systems: keypad coded, keyless entry system, lift access control, close circuit television and Biometric solutions.

Security equipment and technology is one tool to help property managers and occupiers to maintain an effective security system. When effectively applied and operated by trained security personnel, security technology can help prevent incidents of crime and violence.

In the worst- case scenarios, security equipment can provide for a more effective response to those incidents that cannot be prevented.

Unfortunately, experience illustrates that many property managers do not take these issues into consideration before purchasing and installing security technology equipment.

As a result, the security industry has seen a number of common mistakes. These include failure to identify where security technology is most needed and where it can be most appropriately employed.

Also, many commercial properties do not use the security equipment appropriately once it is installed and fail to integrate the use of security equipment with human, procedural, Training and other property management systems.

So regardless of how secure or reliable theses systems have become due to their technology and design, security is still limited by the fact that there is no guarantee the correct person is using them.

It is therefore common to combine them with one or more additional methods of confirming identity, such as a pin code, biometric and recognition software to CCTV coverage.

Security systems are being added as an amenity to attract new residents, but access control systems are only effective as the systems and protocols that manage them.

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