|Access control systems provide authorized individuals safe and secure access to various parts of a building, or even the building itself, while keeping unauthorized people out. They simplify management of the building by removing the need to replace lost keys, hunt down keys from terminated employees, or wondering who has access to which areas.
In all locking systems, the secure lock needs to be released by a physical object. What this object is will depend on what your needs are. Such objects include, but are not limited to, stand-alone locks, keys, combinations, cards or fingerprints.
As the name implies, these are battery-powered stand-alone locks that are considered "all-in-one" access control systems. The advantages of stand-alone locks are they can be installed and operational in minutes. The disadvantages of stand-alone locks are they are stand-alone and not part of a broader monitored network. However, hand-held readers that can extract the audit trail from the lock are available.
Proximity readers are the most popular option in commercial access control. They use cards, and can be combined with photo ID for additional security. They're also inexpensive. There are two types of proximity readers: RFID and Bluetooth.
A keyswitch offers electronic auditing through a network while using a physical key to activate the lock.
Keypads are common for single door access control. They are easy to use, but a lot less secure since users can write down the code or "lend" it to others. These also don't provide an audit trail unless you give each user a unique code.
Although considerably more expensive than the other access control types listed here, they're by far the most secure methods of access control. Biometric systems rely on physical characteristics of the user for identification. Typical characteristics include fingerprints, handprints, or even retinal scans.