Physical Access Control Systems (PACS) have been an essential aspect of physical security for decades. Access control has come a long way from the early days of keys and locks to the modern era of biometric and cloud-based access control systems. Over the last 20 years, PACS have undergone significant advancements, making them more intelligent, reliable, and cost-effective. This blog post will explore the evolution of physical access control systems in the last two decades, including the advancements, trends, and challenges. (Also read: Factors that drive the physical access control market)
Advancements in Physical Access Control Systems
The evolution of PACS can be traced back to the early 2000s when traditional key and lock systems were commonly used to control access to buildings and rooms. However, these systems had their limitations, including a lack of flexibility, scalability, and the ability to provide detailed access control data. (Also read: 10 Types of physical access control systems)
In response to these limitations, the industry began to shift towards electronic access control systems, which are capable of providing greater security, flexibility, and scalability. These systems utilized various technologies such as proximity cards, smart cards, biometrics, and PIN codes to control access to buildings and rooms. More recently, there has been an increased adoption of artificial intelligence, and machine learning. According to a market research report by Grand View Research, the global physical security market is expected to reach $292.4 billion by 2025, with access control systems accounting for a significant portion of this market.
Here are some of the most notable advancements:
Biometric technology has been a game-changer for the physical access control industry. The introduction of fingerprint scanners, facial recognition, and iris recognition has improved the accuracy and speed of access control systems. Biometric systems provide a more secure way of controlling access since it’s difficult to forge a biometric feature such as a fingerprint. Moreover, biometric systems are more convenient and faster than traditional methods such as key cards and PINs.
Cloud-Based Access Control Systems
Cloud-based access control systems have become increasingly popular over the last decade. These systems store user data and access control settings on cloud servers, which can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. The cloud-based systems provide an affordable and flexible solution for managing access control, making it easy for organizations to scale up or down as needed.
Rule-Based Access Control
Rule-based access control systems were prevalent during the early 2000s. These systems work by defining pre-set rules to control access to specific areas or resources. For example, a door could be set to allow access to users with a specific key card or PIN. However, rule-based systems had limited functionality and were not flexible enough to meet the needs of more complex organizations.
Smart Access Control Systems
Smart access control systems are becoming increasingly popular in commercial and industrial sectors. These systems use advanced algorithms and analytics to monitor user behaviour and detect unusual activity. Smart access control systems can recognize patterns in user behavior, enabling them to issue alerts when a user’s behavior is anomalous. For example, a smart access control system may detect an employee trying to access a restricted area outside their usual working hours. They are also highly customizable, allowing administrators to create and manage different user access levels. This is particularly useful in industries such as healthcare and finance, where access to sensitive data and areas must be tightly controlled.
Trends in Physical Access Control Systems
The advancements in access control systems have created several trends that have revolutionized the industry. Some of the notable trends include:
Increased use of mobile devices: Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are increasingly being used to access physical spaces. Mobile access control systems use Bluetooth, Near Field Communication (NFC), or Wi-Fi to communicate with the access control system. This trend is driven by the increasing use of mobile devices and the need for more convenient access control.
Integration with other security systems: Access control systems are increasingly being integrated with other security systems such as video surveillance and alarm systems. This integration provides a more comprehensive approach to physical security since all the systems can work together to detect and respond to security breaches.
Customizable access control systems: Modern access control systems are highly customizable, enabling administrators to create and manage different user access levels. This feature is particularly useful in industries such as healthcare and finance, where access to sensitive data and areas must be tightly controlled.
Despite the many advancements and trends, the access control industry still faces several challenges that need to be addressed. Some of these challenges include:
Cybersecurity threats: With the increasing use of cloud-based systems, the access control industry faces significant cybersecurity threats. These threats include data breaches, malware attacks, and phishing scams.
Cost: While access control systems have become more affordable over the years, the cost is still a significant challenge for many organizations. The initial investment and ongoing maintenance costs can be a significant financial burden, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses.
Privacy Concerns: Biometric access control systems have raised privacy concerns, with some people worrying about collecting and using their biometric data. Organizations must ensure that they have adequate data protection policies and comply with relevant data protection regulations.
User Acceptance: While access control systems offer many benefits, user acceptance can be challenging. Employees may resist new technologies or find the access control system difficult to use, leading to compliance issues.
The last 20 years have witnessed significant advancements in physical access control systems. The industry has also seen several trends, such as the increased use of mobile devices, integration with other security systems, and customizable access control systems. However, the industry still faces several challenges, such as cybersecurity threats, cost, privacy concerns, and user acceptance. As access control technology continues to evolve, it will be crucial to address these challenges and ensure that physical access control systems remain a critical aspect of physical security.