Access Control Systems Glossary
Sometimes our account executives use industry terms that aren’t in your every day vocabulary. This series of blog posts helps to explain what each of these industry terms mean.
What is access control?
Access control is the practice of restricting entrance to a property, a building, or a room to authorized people. Access control systems supervise who is allowed to go where. How does it work? Users have an authentication device, like a key fob. The user presents the key fob to the reader, which sends information to a control panel. The control panel compares the user’s authentication to an access control list, grants or denies the presented request, and sends a transaction log to a database. If access is denied, the door remains locked. If access is granted, the door is unlocked. The control panel also ignores a door open signal to prevent an alarm. Other authentication devices include access cards, fingerprints, retina scans, access codes to enter into a keypad, and so forth.
BACnet is a data communication protocol for building automation and control networks. A data communication protocol is a set of rules governing the exchange of data over a computer network. The rules take the form of a written specification that spells out what is required to conform to the protocol. Look at it this way: grammar is to modern language as BACnet is to programming automation and control networks.
Refers to the identification of individuals by using physiological and behavioral characteristics. Examples include fingerprints, retinal scans, hand geography, and so on. Biometric identification is commonly used in access control systems because the authentication factors (fingerprints, hand geography, etc.) are impossible to forget (like a pin number or access code) and virtually impossible to replicate (like a key.)
Card access is a type of access control system using encoded cards and card readers to identify cardholders and determine if access may be granted.
Used in security systems, a key fob is a device with buttons that can be used to lock and unlock doors, arm and disarm the system, and send a panic alert to local authorities. Used in an access control system, a key fob is a small device with built in authentication mechanisms which is presented to a proximity reader in order to gain access to a room or building.
Used in security systems, a keypad is what houses the user interface of a security system. As a part of access control systems, keypads are devices used to authenticate users.
A standard used in networking that ensures that nodes (designed by different companies or developers) can still work together. Compliance with the LonWorks standard guarantees that compatibility of one bit of software with another. This is especially important when designing controls for HVAC systems. It just means that the programs we write at Ener-Tel will play nicely with other LonWorks compliant programs that other developers have written.
A locking device that consists of an electromagnet and an armature plate.
A card that can be “read” by holding it near an electronic reader unit for a moment.
A device commonly used in access control systems capable of reading and interpreting cards using radio frequency identifcation to encode data.
A scramble pad is a digital keypad whose numbers change places after each use. With a scramble pad, a users PIN number can stay the same, but the actual buttons he pushes on the keypad will differ according to the new location of each of the numbers.
These are just a few of the terms we use, and is in no way an exhaustive list of the devices we can incorporate into access control systems. This is just a start. If you’re looking for something specific, be sure and contact one of our access control experts today.