PC Based Access Control Systems

When a card access system is required to do more than just let a person through a door it is common to link the system to a PC to give central control of all administration.

By creating a network of card readers around a site, all linked by a common route of cabling, it is possible to control the movements of all individuals in a site.

The major benefit of linking multiple readers back to a PC is the ease of adding and deleting cards. Instead of programming each reader individually, central control of the system allows all readers to be administered from a few simple mouse clicks. When a card is added to the system, this information is transferred to all doors instantaneously. If a card is lost or removed, in the same way it can be deleted from the system.

When cards are added individually via a PC you can also add notes about the person who is carrying the card. For instance, the database that you are creating within the access control software could hold information such as, name, address, contact telephone number, car registration, phone extension etc. Thus making the system an employee database as well as an access control system.

The system can also go into great depth on employee identification and store images of the person carrying the card. In this way, when a user tries to gain entry to certain areas the system will flag up the action along with the picture of the cardholder. This is a function called "challenging" and is used to verify the identity of an employee. This is especially useful where there is a gatehouse leading onto a site and the ID can be verified before raising a barrier and it is also a useful tool in maintaining security in sensitive locations.

The amount of information you can carry about a user is limitless but access control systems are flexible and due to their database facilities they can offer many other features that are useful in the workplace.

When using a card access system of this type it is possible to use magnetic swipe readers and cards, proximity readers and cards/tokens or to use either type of reading technology in conjunction with a coded keypad to increase security on the system so that a person wishing to enter through a door has to use a PIN (Personal Identification Number) as well as the card/token to gain access through the door.

A typical system setup is outlined below -


As you can see, a network is created between door controllers which is linked back to a PC interface that is connected to the serial port of a PC. The PC does not have to be dedicated to the system and the system will operate regardless of if the PC is on or off. As the software is built to be run on a Windows operating system environment, it is common to have the software running in the background of other Windows applications. In the above example, using Paxton Net2 access control, if the network link to the PC was severed then the the doors would still function although additional programming of the doors would not be possible until the network link was repaired.

By utilising a TCP/IP connection it is possible to link several sites from one or many PC's. An IP address is given to an access control interface at the remote site and the details are set up in the access control software. Therefore a single PC can maintain and operate several sites for the same company which in turn unifies the access control on all sites and gives complete central administration. The illustration below gives an example of this.

Listed below are examples of what an access control database will also achieve -

Full Reporting - A database will let you generate reports of all kinds of transactions that happened on a site over a period of time. Reports can instantly be printed for a group of people or individuals as to where they were located in a building at a given time. Reports can also show where individuals have tried to gain access into areas that they do not have authority to be in.

Roll Call - In the event of a fire on site, whether real or a practice drill, the PC will generate a report as to who is on site at that moment. This can act as a register to ensure that everyone is accounted for. The important factor with this facility is that you must train your employees to use their cards at all times on site and not to tailgate people through doors, otherwise the report will be inaccurate.

Time & Attendance - Access control systems can have designated readers set up to record the time that the employee clocked in and out of work. This report can then be exported to most major payroll packages (Sage, Pegasus etc) to calculate wages. Again if an employee forgets to use their card for this function then they will not be included in the report, and therefore not paid!!!

User Groups - Groups of employees are listed, i.e. office workers, managers, cleaners etc. When adding cards into a system the cardholder is defined to a group and instantly has their access rights assigned. This is based on the assumption that when a group is set up that the users of that group all have common access rights.

Time zones - Time zones are set up and applied to user groups. This means that employees only have access through certain doors at certain times. An example would be that an office worker only has access to the main entrance between 08.00 - 18.00 Monday through to Friday. There is no need to gibe an office worker access outside of these hours and therefore security risks are reduced from that group of people.

Anti-passback - This is a function generally used in conjunction with a set of turnstiles where a person will not be allowed through a door that has a reader on both sides of it if their card is used to re-enter the door. The system tracks to see whether the person has logged into or out of the building and will only allow the user to enter if the previous transaction was an exit or exit if the previous transaction was an entry. This function is designed to stop people passing back cards to people who would not have access to the area.

For further information on our range of access control and any product demonstrations, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be more than happy to assist you in selecting the appropriate system based on your requirements.

Lock-tec (UK) Ltd, 4-6 Castle Street, Northwich, Cheshire, CW8 1BA
Company Registration Number - 06655590