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Access Control: Strategies and Solutions

Access control is the part of the security system that actively monitors all entries and exits to and from your neighborhood, property and ultimately anywhere inside the premises of your home.

The Perimeter

Any detailed risk assessment will begin with an appraisal of the perimeter, and this is where assess control begins as well.  Gated communities, by definition, have one extra level of access control, called “gate management,” which weeds out solicitors and unwanted guests from gaining access to the neighborhood.  Residents can only get through the gate if they are privy to the pass-code or have the appropriate technology, e.g., a remote control to activate the gate or a swipe card that permits access.   When a credential such as a swipe card is presented to the reader in the form of a number, it is then sent to the security system’s control panel to verify that the number is on the accepted list.  Feedback is usually displayed, such as a blinking green light, that means you can move forward.  The same concept is used at toll booths, except it is the operator who signifies to the control panel that access should be granted.

The electric fence is commonplace is some communities.  By nature of its imposing appearance, it is often all you need to protect your property from trespassers, burglars and solicitors, and has the added benefits of keeping wild animals out and your pets inside.  Law requires electric fences to be equipped with warning signs; they announce to the public that your perimeter is protected. However, experienced burglars know that the shock from an electric fence must be within public safety regulations (much closer to a mosquito bite than a bee sting and certainly not lethal), so if you are seriously concerned about protecting your assets, you shouldn’t stop with perimeter security.

CCTV & Video Surveillance

CCTV (Closed Caption Television) technology, which is essentially a video camera and a monitor, in increasingly becoming more common as a method of home protection and, specifically, access control.  Cameras can be strategically placed at your driveway or your front door to supervise access to visitors.  Monitoring stations are then set up to coordinate with your home television or computer systems, which can be viewed from any room inside your home, or even remotely.  One scenario might be this: you are on a business trip and subsequently expecting a package from Fed Ex.  Your home security control panel alerts you via text or email that someone has arrived at your home (the technology will either use motion detectors or could even signal you when your doorbell is pressed).  You then view the individual through a live feed (from your Smartphone or Internet connection) and enter a code that enable access for a given period of five minutes.  You can supervise the carrier as he opens the door, delivers the package and exits.

Doors, Windows & Locks

Since eighty-five percent of break-ins occur through the front door, it would be unthinkable to talk about access control without mentioning the most basic component - door locks.  In fact, some insurance companieswill deny coverage for break-ins that occur when entries are not properly locked. If locks on doors is your only level of access control (if you aren’t monitoring via video camera and do not have gate or perimeter control), the most cautious approach would be to make sure that each locks takes a different key. Keyless locks are becoming more prevalent; not only do they add to the physical security of your home, but they also save you time. Imagine how much more efficient your life would be if you never had to search for your keys!  Some keyless locks use a pass-code to achieve access, while others use biometric technology (fingerprints).

The security industry and its products, such as access control devices, surveillance cameras and home security systems are transitioning from analog and hard-wired technologies to digital and wireless products as they, like all other industries, converge with the corporate network.  This means that products that meet individual specifications and personalized requirements are becoming competitive and, likewise, affordable.  Finding a home security system that suits your lifestyle and your budget is easy - it’s narrowing down the choices that can be a bit difficult.

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