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Designing an Access Control System

building with access control system

When it comes to protecting business assets, physical security plays just as vital a role as cybersecurity. Whether you manage a small business or a large organization, you need strategies for controlling who has access to certain parts of your building. An access control system uses technology solutions that interface with your physical infrastructure to prevent unauthorized access to your building and keep track of who enters sensitive areas.

A robust access control system can protect your organization’s assets from theft and tampering and help create a safer environment for workers and guests. It can also provide an accurate record of authorized access to identify busy areas and traffic flow problems during specific times of the work day. However, you may find it challenging to implement an access control system if the system’s requirements exceed current infrastructure. To build physical security from the ground up, you need to create an access control plan.

Creating Your Access Control Plan

An access control plan is the blueprint for your access control system. It takes into account your organization’s unique security requirements and lays out a comprehensive strategy for addressing them. Your plan might specify the areas you need to secure, the type of verification required, the type of access control hardware you plan to use, the location of the equipment, and who will monitor and manage the system after installation.

After planning an access control system, you will have a clear understanding of your security risks. You will also understand how to implement an access control system that meets your needs. Let’s take a closer look at some strategies you can use to begin the planning process.

Assess the Situation

Before you can create an access control system, you need to know how your current security structure is performing. Some questions to ask yourself at this stage of planning include:

  • What type of credentials do authorized employees receive?
  • Can you ensure there are no duplicate IDs?
  • How much does your current system cost?
  • Can you strengthen your current system by upgrading it?
  • Which assets might be at risk under your current system?
  • Who has access to sensitive areas of your campus?
  • Who is managing your access control system?

Note that your organization likely possesses assets beyond physical equipment like computers. Business data, patient records, client records, and employee information all need protection, as well.

Observe the Environment

Some businesses hold employees to strict standards, while others conduct business in a more open manner. There’s nothing wrong with having a relaxed work culture, but you should keep this attitude from extending to security where it matters.

To see what training and culture changes might factor into your access control plan, observe the behavior of employees on a normal day. Security concerns occur when employees do things like: holding the door for others without verifying employment status, prop open locked doors for convenience, and allow guests to easily bypass the reception desk.

Conduct a Site Survey and Security Audit

Before  purchasing an access control system, you should conduct a formal site survey and security audit, or hire an expert to complete these examinations for you. This process involves performing a walk-through of your facility to identify threats and assess the risk to your business. During an audit, you should consider:

  • Gaps in mechanical security: Access control devices cannot secure your facility if the doors have mechanical weaknesses. Ensure the doors and frames are in good condition and the key system provides adequate security.
  • The value of your assets: Total the value of your business’s assets, including any liability or loss of productivity that could occur if the asset is stolen or damaged.
  • The level of threat: Determine whether security threats originate inside or outside your organization and identify any changes near your facility that could increase security risks, such as recent business closures.

During a site survey, you will also learn what factors, if any, limit the type of access control system you can install. For example, the age of your building may make it expensive or hazardous to install traditional wired access devices.

Ensure Compliance With Codes and Regulations

Your new access control system must comply with all applicable building codes and regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Life Safety Code (NFPA 101). Keep regulatory requirements in mind as you create your access control plan.

Put Your Plan Into Action

Once you’ve created your access control plan, it’s time to install access control equipment, issue new ID to employees, and address other gaps identified in your plan. To implement your system properly and efficiently, consider working with Morefield Communications. With more than 70 years of experience, we can provide a proven solution tailored to your needs. To learn more about our physical security services, contact us online today.

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