What to consider when choosing an access control system

Alan Hickson

Operations Director

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Access control systems are required in a myriad of situations. Whether it is a trampoline park, gym, hotel, school or leisure complex operators need to make sure that the only people who can gain entry to a site are those who have permission to be there.

Choices choices

There are many systems available from simple stand-alone systems to networked systems that operate across hundreds of sites. The right choice depends entirely on the needs of the operator. It’s important to consider whether the system needs to offer flexible control over users’ access rights or whether it can be fixed. Biometric readers need careful consideration prior to installation since the advent of GDPR has led to this being classed as special category data. There are also hardware considerations, management software and remote management options available and this variety can make selecting the right system overwhelming.

Where to start?

With so many systems available it can be difficult to know where to start. We recommend starting your search by choosing a supplier who can consult, specify, install and maintain your system.

A great starting point would be the NSI website. The NSI is a certification body specialising in the security and fire safety sector. NSI operates a 2-tier approach to approvals. 

Silver relates to product certification against sector specific standards, e.g. BS7858, BS8243.

Gold builds on product certification to incorporate Quality Management System Certification. The combination of the Quality Management Systems and the relevant sector specific product or service represents the Gold standard of certification. 

For access control systems, the NSI code of practice for Design, Installation and Maintenance of Access Control Systems is NCP 109.

It requires that installers undertake a site survey to establish which of 4 risk classes the various access points of a site fall into. This can vary depending on e.g. the nature of the premises, the time of day or night the system is used and the number and location of access points.

It also requires installers to consider:

  • Equipment selection and installation
  • System control (e.g. event logs, alarm annunciation) 
  • Integration with CCTV and other security systems
  • Commissioning and handover processes
  • Maintenance and record keeping

Peace of mind

Choosing an NSI Gold approved installer, such as Control Group, means that you can be confident that you will have a system that complies with NSI 109 and industry best practice. It will have been carefully designed to meet the needs of your business and the premises in which it is installed. It will also meet British Standard BS 7273-4 for fire protection and BS 7671 for electrical installations.