Access Control System Key Terms

Learn more about the components of access control systems

An access control system can help businesses increase security. An access control system limits how many people can access specific areas of a business. These control systems are set up at entryways, but can also include virtual access control to certain computer files. An access control system will also keep track of the employees who have accessed the designated areas, when the areas were accessed, and how often. Control systems can also work with some of the other security measures in place, such as ID cards and other access entry controls.

Smart card

A smart card is a type of access card that allows a person to enter different controlled areas with a single card. The card contains the information of what controlled areas can be accessed by the user. The card is best used for buildings that have multiple access technologies.


Biometrics is an advanced access control system that uses a combination of biology and technology for authentication. Biometrics includes fingerprints, iris scans, vocal patterns and hand measurements to allow access to controlled areas.

Card reader

A card reader is a device that scans ID cards of employees. The cards are encoded with information telling the system to allow access to the secured area. The reader can be a swipe reader or a proximity reader.

Access control panel

The access control panel is the main system control. This is where security levels are set for secured areas and information is provided on who can access specific points.


Interoperability allows security products made by different companies to work with an access control system. For example, interoperability allows a security system to be integrated with an access control system.

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