The Technological Evolution Of Electronic Access Control

March 14th, 2019



Electronic access control has been around since the 1960s with the introduction of simple keypads. Keypads kept doors locked unless a user entered an acceptable PIN number. This simple system was incredibly effective and took off in popularity as business owners found keypads more secure than traditional locks. Since then, however, electronic access technology has advanced and there are now multiple options to keep your business safe. 

Magnetic Technology And Card Readers

Not long after the introduction of keypads, card readers were introduced. Card readers used a ferromagnetic wire embedded in cards. The cards were then “swiped” in a slot that had a built-in sensor that could unlock a door when programmed accordingly. The frequency of these wires is difficult to duplicate, so they made an effective replacement to keys. 

Non-Intelligent Readers: Security Support

Card readers provided a high quality alternative to keys and keypads, however, in the beginning, they only used non-intelligent readers. This means that they only collected the data needed to allow access, they don’t interpret the data or have the ability to relay the data. Say, for example, an individual uses their card multiple times in a single day. A security expert would see this in and out behavior as suspicious and investigate the reason. While a non-intelligent reader just allows this entry and re-entry, not triggering any further investigation. So these systems were still vulnerable to abuse without monitoring from a security staff.

Intelligent Readers: The First Step Toward Automation

Seeing the issue with non-intelligent readers, security professionals created a solution. They developed intelligent readers that could track and analyze this data. So as the individual is going in and out, it is being tracked and security staff is notified of this unusual behavior. However, intelligent readers only tracked and analyzed data, they didn’t make decisions on how to use that data. So the security staff was still required to investigate.

IP Readers: The Next Phase Of Technology 

The collection and analysis of data was a huge step that empowered security professionals to really do their job. However, with new technologies, intelligent readers evolved into IP readers. IP readers are connected to a network and can effectively make the “decision” to open the door or not. So in the case of our in and out individual, an IP reader can say after 3 entries and re-entries, this individual is no longer allowed access without reporting to the security staff. 

Into The Future

Access entry technology has evolved a lot over the last fifty years and will continue to evolve to meet new threats. As new technologies are developed in other industries, those technologies will also be integrated into security systems. In the near future, it’s likely we will see more integration of biometric data like facial recognition, readers using artificial intelligence, and wearable security. The best part about these new technologies is they can often be integrated with existing technologies. Making them as affordable as they are secure.