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Physical access control

The limitations of mechanical access control

In the past, physical access control systems almost always consisted of mechanical locks and keys. However, these have a number of limitations. For example, they cannot limit the key holder to specific dates or times. It is also impossible to keep a log of which key was used on which door. Also, mechanical keys can be copied fairly easily, or transferred to an unauthorized person. Finally, there is the problem that the locks have to be replaced when a mechanical key is lost or stolen, or the key holder is no longer authorised to enter the premises. Nowadays we increasingly use electronic physical access control systems. These use computers to overcome the limitations of mechanical locks and keys.

Contemporary physical access control: Who, where and when

Physical access control in today’s era is a question of who, where and when. A physical access control system determines who is allowed to go in and out, where it is allowed to go in and out, and when this is allowed. As an alternative to mechanical keys, various forms of identification can be used. These can be electronic drops, cards or codes, but also biometric security systems. On the basis of the data presented, the electronic access control system determines whether or not the user has access. When access is granted, the door opens for a predetermined period of time. When access is denied, the door remains locked. Both successful transactions and denied access attempts are recorded. In most cases, the system will also notify if the door is forced or remains open too long after access has been granted.