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Access Control Systems: How They Work?

In today’s world, security has become a major concern. People are always looking for ways to protect themselves and their property. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is through access control systems.

In this blog post, I’m going to cover the basics of access control systems and how they work.

What Is an Access Control System?

An access control system is a device that allows you to control who can enter or exit your premises. It does so by allowing or denying people entry based on some criteria such as time of day, location within the building, employee ID number, etc. The most common types of ACSs include card readers, keypads, biometric scanners, and proximity cards.

Card Readers

The first type of access control system used was the card reader A card reader is a machine that reads information from a magnetic strip on a credit card or other similar plastic identification card. This information includes the name of the person entering the facility, his/her department, and sometimes even his/her job title. Card readers have been around since the 1960s but were originally only found in banks and government buildings. Today, they’re also commonly used at retail stores and warehouses.


Keypad access controls are another popular form of ACS. These devices use numeric codes instead of names to identify authorized users. Keypads are usually located near doors or elevators. When someone enters the correct code into the keypad, he/she will be allowed access. If not, the door will remain locked until the proper code is entered.


Biometrics refers to any physical characteristic that can be measured and compared with a database of known characteristics. Biometric technology uses fingerprints, hand geometry, voice recognition, retinal scans, facial features, iris patterns, and DNA samples to authenticate individuals.

Proximity Cards

Proximity cards are small pieces of plastic that contain a unique identifier. They can be embedded into keys, badges, or clothing. Once the card is scanned, it sends its identifier to the access control system.

How Do Access Control Systems Work?

There are two basic methods of controlling access using an ACS. The first method involves the use of a card reader. In this case, when a card is inserted into the reader, the card reader checks whether the card belongs to an authorized user. If the card matches the one stored in the computer, the reader will allow the person to pass through the door. Otherwise, the card will be rejected.

The second method is called “cardless” access control. With this method, no card is needed. Instead, the individual’s identity is verified using a fingerprint scanner, retina scan, or other biometric devices.

Both methods require a central computer to store all of the data about each person. The computer then compares this data against the data provided by the person trying to gain access. If there’s a match, the computer will grant the person permission to enter. If there isn’t a match, the person won’t be able to get past the door.

Who Uses Access Controls?

Access control systems are used in many different industries including retail, manufacturing, healthcare, banking, law enforcement, military, transportation, education, and more. Some of these industries include:

Retail Stores

Retail stores use access control systems to prevent shoplifting. By requiring customers to show ID before allowing them to enter the store, retailers can ensure that only people who are supposed to be inside the store are actually inside.


Manufacturing plants often use access control systems to keep out unauthorized personnel. For example, if a worker leaves the plant without authorization, the company can lock down the area so that nobody else can enter.


Healthcare facilities use access control systems to help maintain patient privacy. Patients may have private rooms where they receive treatment. This helps patients feel more comfortable because they don’t have to worry about being seen by anyone but their doctor.


Banks use access control systems to limit access to certain areas of their buildings. For example, bank tellers might need access to secure areas while others do not.

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement agencies use access control systems to restrict access to sensitive areas. Police officers might need access to restricted areas while civilians don’t.


Military bases use access control systems to regulate access to classified information. Only those with proper clearance can view the information.


Transportation companies use access control systems to monitor the movement of vehicles on their premises. For example, airport parking lots use access control systems to track the movements of cars.


Schools use access control systems to manage student attendance. Students must provide proof of identification before entering the school building.

What Are the Advantages of Using Access Controls?

Using access controls is a great way to increase your organization’s security. Here are some of the advantages of using access controls:

Increased Security

When you use access controls, it becomes much harder for someone to steal from your business. Because employees must present valid identification before gaining entry to a facility, thieves would have to break in at night. Even if they managed to sneak into the building, they wouldn’t be able to walk around freely since they’d need to prove their identity before getting anywhere near the valuable items.

Improved Employee Safety

Employees working in dangerous environments like construction sites or factories are less likely to be injured when they’re protected by an access control system. Since workers need to present valid identification before accessing any restricted areas, they’ll know exactly what areas they’re allowed to enter.

Reduced Costs

An access control system reduces the risk of theft and also reduces the amount of time spent tracking down stolen goods. It also makes it easier for businesses to recover lost inventory.

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