Physical Access Control Systems - Comnet

Access Control Systems

Access Control Systems

What is physical security?

Physical security has traditionally been viewed as an unsexy and tedious topic that few want to tackle; however, everyone knows that safety and security must be adequately addressed. From talking to endless lines of hardware store reps about installing door locks, to antiquated, dystopian visions of bored security guards in rooms with dozens of CCTV monitors— the label of physical security does not necessarily inspire passion. We are here to tell you that it does not have to be that way. With cutting-edge technology and the Internet of Things revolution, the world of physical security has drastically changed—making your physical once a safe space has never been easier.

If you are new to the world of physical access control, you might have some questions:

  • Components, what are the pieces of an access control system and how does it work?
  • Why Access Control, why do people choose access control?
  • Managing and Using, who manages the day-to-day aspects of the system?
  • Quote and Cost, how much should I spend on an access control system and what is a sample quote?

Setup and Operation, how do I set up an access control system?

What is physical access control?

An access control system allows you to manage, monitor and maintain who has access to certain doors and at what time they can access them. The simplest type of access control “system” is a standard deadbolt with a brass key.

Why do we need access control?

The purpose of access control is to provide quick, convenient access control for authorized persons while, at the same time, restricting access for unauthorized people. Beyond the obvious reasons, there are more reasons why access control should play a significant role in your organization. The standard form of today’s access control is an “access card,” instead of the key, to grant access to a secured area. For access to larger buildings, the exterior door is managed by the building and the interior, or tenant, door access is managed by the individual company. Some companies need to be compliant with health data regulations (HIPAA) or credit card data regulations (PCI) or even with cyber standards, such as SOC2. The ability to pull compliance reports for access control, on demand, is a huge benefit.


If you’re working in a company on expensive products or sensitive data then you definitely want to control and monitor who enters your facility.

IP / Data

If you have a lot of visitors or clients coming to your space, you might be looking for a welcoming experience at the front door or front desk. Access control not only improves your operations but it’s modern and impressive for visitors to use.


Think about a small business located in a larger building: The company will use the access card provided by the landlord to get in the front door. However, it is often the case that the landlord is not responsible for the specific office security. Thus, the small business might wish to install their own access control on their doors, and a separate intrusion detection alarm in the office, along with one or more video cameras.


This is your electronic “key” and it grants you access. It could be an access card, ID badge, ID card or smartphone-based mobile app that acts as an electronic key. People use one, or a combination of all three, to gain access through the doors that are secured by an access control system. The form of access cards is the same as credit cards, so it fits in your wallet or purse; however, demagnetization is very common with basic access control cards. The benefit of using mobile credentials is that they are personalized, so any unlock event can be tracked back to the person associated with the credential.

Card Reader

The card reader, mounted on the wall, electronically reads your credentials, and sends a request to unlock the door (using your user credentials) to a server. Typically, the type of cards used are proximity cards, which require the card to be held in a 2” to 6” proximity to the reader—as opposed to being inserted. Card readers are mounted outside of the perimeter (exterior non-secured wall) and next to the door they should be unlocking. In addition to card readers, some access control systems provide the option of using keypads (PINS) or biometrics, instead of cards or smartphones, as credentials. This is rather uncommon, since PINs can easily be passed on and biometrics are difficult to manage—especially if employees or visitors don’t want to share their fingerprint with your company.