The first step in properly specifying the right type of ingress and egress to apply at each door in an access-control system is determining why controlled access is needed at a specific location. Is it a matter of privacy, such as protecting personnel files? Is it a safety issue, such as access to and quick egress from a boiler room? Is it theft or vandalism problems in labs?
Access control simply is controlling who can go where, and when. Will there be many people or just a few? What kinds of doors are present? Does your school need audits and time features that allow access only at certain hours and on specified days? Will many people be coming at once?
Answering these questions flushes out details for selecting the appropriate ingress and egress solution.
Controlling the who
To control people, they need to be identified. Issuing a key gives the bearer authorization to enter the door with the matching lock.
Instead of keys, which can have significant management costs, administrators might consider numerical codes that work with electronic keypad locks. Codes can be added and deleted easily from these locks, eliminating the high costs associated with re-keying. These locks are reasonably priced. Including installation, the cost of securing an opening is $600 to $700.
However, people can forget or share codes. Too often, people write down passwords and codes, and they can be easy to see and to steal.
For greater security, access may be limited to something the user holds that is difficult to duplicate, such as magnetic stripe cards and proximity fobs. A quick swipe or presentation to the reader gives a cardholder access.
However, an authorized credential does not necessarily mean the holder is the authorized user. Lost or stolen credentials are active until deleted from the system and can be used by an individual with harmful intentions.
For even higher security, one might consider a linked-access arrangement where an authorized user must hold the appropriate credential and know the appropriate code linked with that credential. This application is similar to bank ATM cards.
Another type of access control is a biometric, which looks for an unalterable personal attribute. These systems have no credentials or codes to administer, and biometric characteristics can't be shared, stolen, lost or left behind.
Once a school determines how to identify the “who,” it needs to control the “who.” A system can provide momentary access to individuals. In some places, a school might want to keep doors unlocked at some times and locked at other times. Perhaps a campus wants a pass-through mode that allows deans and certain professors to come and go as they please. For temporary personnel, a school may want to set up a one-time use. In higher security applications, a school may want to use two credentials in tandem, such as a card and a biometric.