Door Access Security: First Line Of Defense

All Doors are Not Created Equal

The days of finding security behind closed doors with brass keys in tumbler locks are long gone. All doors—front doors, back doors, garage doors, office doors, school doors, church doors, store doors, clinic doors, apartment doors—have become the critical first line of defense to keep everyone and everything behind them safe from harm.

To ensure safety, there’s a lot to consider—and I mean a lot!—when evaluating your door security needs, policies and options. So, let’s get started by looking at three industries where door access is especially crucial.

Daycare Centers

Door access enables you to keep track of who’s coming and going, where and when.
Ensuring parent check-in and front door security is serious business. You want to be sure the designated parent is checking in, and only authorized people enter, such as vendors. Access to interior areas, like kitchens, utility rooms and administrative offices, need to be limited. Even door access to playgrounds should be considered. On the flip side of the access spectrum, exit restrictions need to keep children inside.

Senior Living

Patients and residents in independent living, assisted living, memory care, and long-term care all have different access needs so careful planning is essential. Credentials are needed for employees and volunteers who work in various areas of the facility, and have access to medical cabinets, confidential patient information, offices and lockers.

Multi-Family Housing

From mailboxes and garage access to moving in/out, considerations also include guests, package and food delivery, garbage removal and access to amenities like pools and gyms. How will door access be compromised if a card is lost or stolen? What happens when someone is locked out?

5 Types of Card Access Control Systems

Card control systems are the most common door access security tool and they are highly effective. You probably use at least one of these:

  1. Swipe Cards: With magnetic stripes like credit cards, they are swiped through the card reader at the door, and the user’s access code and credentials are immediately read. Swipe cards are one of the oldest forms of card access and are generally reliable, although the magnetic stripes do tend to wear out over time.
  2. Proximity Cards: Held near the card reader, they don’t need to make physical contact with the reader.
  3. RFID Cards (Radio Frequency Identification): Used for identifying an object, such as packages. It’s also another way of referring to a proximity card, in this case by the actual technology.
  4. Smart Cards: These are much faster and capable of writing data, in addition to just reading it. This allows the card to store much more information and makes them useful in a variety of credential options and applications.
  5. Biometric Readers: Attached to a network, they measure a person’s unique physiological characteristics, such as fingerprint, finger-vein, palm, retina, iris, face, and voice. Biometrics provides far better security than RFID card credentials because you are identifying a person rather than something the person is carrying. They provide increased reliability and functionality, but don’t store a picture of the fingerprint or face. Everything is encoded for security and privacy. Many college campuses and Greek systems use fingerprints or retinal scanning to allow access. Some say fingerprint systems don’t work well, but the ones I’ve seen do.

Door Safety and Code and Card Management

As you evaluate your business’s door access needs, both present and future, here are questions and considerations.

  • Do your doors support the kind of card access you want, and do they fit your specific security needs?
  • Do you want every door to have card access?
  • Who are the doors meant for: employers, residents, students?
  • Are there too many employees/residents/students to have an effective access system?
  • Vendors, employers, residents, and students should all use different codes based on their access needs.
  • Will all the residents (multi-family, senior living) carry their own FAB-like device?
    • Will the card open the main doors as well as their units?
  • A daycare will want employees to FAB to track payroll
  • Set your door access calendar for dates and times; the calendar will progress in real-time. For example:
    • Schools need door access based on:
      • Open and close hours 
      • Summer hours
      • Visiting hours
      • Special events
    • Holiday hours
      • Some dates, like Christmas and New Year’s, are fixed.
      • Most holiday dates need to be set every year, such as Easter, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving. 
  • Updates and changes
    • How often are codes/cards updated?
    • Who has authorization to change codes?
    • How is code change communicated and processed?
    • Everyone’s credentials should be reviewed quarterly.
    • Remove employees from the list after getting fired or leaving.
    • Employee status may change based on building location or task; people graduate from school.
  • Emergencies
    • Is there an emergency lock box KNOX system?
    • What is the emergency door access process and who does what?
    • How is card access impacted by emergencies?
  • Door installation and maintenance challenges. Before you purchase a system make sure your door contractor is on board with your plans, and there are no limitations to the door.
    • All card access hardware is not compatible with all doors.
    • Installing a card system alters the original face of the door.
    • Make sure techs have the ability, especially when retrofitting card access to current doors.
    • Not all service technicians will work on all doors, especially expensive doors.

I know that’s a lot of questions and considerations to take in, but Brothers Fire & Security will help you sort through them. We’ll take the time to sit down with you to evaluate your security requirements, options and budget then develop a system specific to your business.

Don’t let trouble and harm through your doors—make sure that your first line of defense is effective and reliable.

About Brothers Fire & Security

As one of the premier providers of fire and security solutions in the Upper Midwest, Brothers Fire & Security strives to build long-term, value-added relationships. We work with business owners and property management companies, as well as all types of public institutions to solve fire and security needs. By taking advantage of our integrated bundled services, many of our clients find that they can save 25-30% on their safety services, annual inspections and more. From a single location to franchises throughout the region and the country, our integrated approach saves our clients valuable time, money and stress. We provide fire protection systems, security systems, fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, 24-7 monitoring, fire extinguishers, card access and kitchen hoods.