Learning About Access Control Systems: Control Cards

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Access control systems play an important role when it comes to protecting your property and maintaining a smooth flow of day-to-day operations. These systems are designed to keep data, premises and people safe, whether it’s apartment complexes or a commercial building. Access control systems ensure that only authorized people have access to certain areas in a building. There are numerous types of systems on the market today, with access control cards being the most common. Each system comes with certain advantages and disadvantages. So, which system should you install on your property? Here are some considerations.

Access Control Cards

Many companies that are looking to secure their property, start by installing a card-reader-powered access control system. In a card-based access control system, individuals use electronic cards, which have been programed with certain access parameters. They work similar to ATM cards. You just need to swipe the card and the doorway will grant or deny access. Access control cards are divided into 3 main categories – magnetic stripe cards, proximity cards and smart cards.

Magnetic stripe cards are ideal for low security installations. They can limit access to a building, thus making sure that only people with the card can enter. Unfortunately, they are quite easy to duplicate. Apart from that, you have no control over how people use their cards. Also, the cards wear out quite fast.

Proximity cards operate like a vehicle’s door lock system, where a proximity reader detects whenever the car fob is within a certain range. They are resistant to normal wear and tear.

If you have a high-security facility and you want to use a card-based system, then a smart card is the better choice. These cards come with a smart microprocessor, which bears the user’s details. Smart cards are available in proximity or contact versions, depending on your needs and preferences. And since each card is unique, it’s easy to track how people are using them. If a card is lost or stolen – or an employee is terminated, its data can be wiped remotely, making it obsolete. Therefore, an unauthorized person will not be able to access your premises.


So, why should you opt for a card-based access control system? Some individuals and organizations opt for card access systems instead of biometric security readers because they are easy for users. If a door is secured via a card access system, you just need to swipe your card. And, as long as your credentials have been programmed into that access system, then the door will open right away. You don’t have to worry about memorizing a code or sorting through your keys. On the other hand, a card access system allows you to enter the facility within the shortest time possible. By doing that, you will be minimizing threats from anyone outside.

Another benefit of using a card access system is that even if one of your staff loses your cards, your premises are still secure. You just need to deregister that card from the system, and it will automatically become obsolete. If you are using smart cards, then your facility is secure, since they are almost impossible to come up with a duplicate. If you have a facility that doesn’t require a high level of security or you want to provide temporary access to some individuals, then a card access system offers flexibility. You can provide access to anyone as long as you want or whenever a need arises. Whether you want to give contractors access to certain areas of a building, or you have a client needing temporary access to restricted areas, you can do that easily.

Just like a biometric security reader, card access also keeps a record of entry. Whenever someone swipes their card to gain access to a doorway, information in your system (such as their name or employee number) plus date, time and other details are automatically recorded. Therefore, if a certain area is compromised or vandalism has taken place at your facility, it’s easy to see who accessed that area and at what time.


Card access systems can sometimes prove to be unreliable. For instance, you have probably come across a situation where the machine fails to read a certain card. And when that happens, the user will not have access to that place, even if they were in a hurry. Furthermore, card based systems require a certain degree of accuracy when swiping the cards. If you do it too fast or too slowly, then it might not respond, leading to frustrations.

And, as with many personal items, cards and fobs can be lost or left at home. Card access relies on employees having their card available at all times while they are at the facility, where as a memorized code or fingerprint swipe cannot be misplaced.

Give the professionals at Richmond Security a call at 804-378-1010 to schedule a free security Assessment.

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