Access Control Software: A Guide For Building Owners & Operators

It's 3 AM.

You get a real-time alert on your phone.

"Unauthorized attempt to access [your building here]."

With the right access control software in place, you're not just informed—you can act immediately. You can view live video feeds, verify the identity of the person attempting entry, and even communicate directly with onsite security to manage the situation effectively.

But first, let's zoom out.

In this guide, we'll explain access control software, why you need it to operate a modern smart building, and which features the best access control solutions typically have.

What is access control software?

Access control software is a digital management tool that restricts and manages physical access to buildings or rooms, providing a secure environment for assets and personnel.

It integrates with security systems and your building management system to authenticate and authorize entry through various technologies, ensuring only designated individuals can enter specific areas. This streamlined approach enhances building security and operational efficiency.

Why modern smart buildings need access control software

Modern smart buildings need access control software for several important reasons:

  • Enhanced security: This technology helps secure buildings by controlling who can access specific areas, ensuring only authorized personnel can enter.
  • Operational efficiency: Access control systems streamline the management of entry permissions and monitor access points in real time, simplifying building operations.
  • Adaptability and convenience: These systems meet the expectations of tech-savvy tenants by providing a user-friendly, adaptable environment that enhances both safety and convenience.

By integrating access control software, building owners and operators can provide a safer, more efficient, and user-friendly environment, making their properties more attractive to current and potential tenants.

Types of access control software (and which is best)

Now that you understand the importance of access control software let's explore the different types available. Choosing the right type can significantly impact the security and efficiency of your building. Here are the main options to consider.

On-prem access control software

On-premises access control software is installed directly on computers located within the premises it aims to secure. This setup has often been favored by high-security facilities like government buildings, financial institutions, and large corporations where control over the security system is a priority.

The primary advantage of on-prem access control is the complete control it offers over the security environment and sensitive data, as everything is managed internally. However, there are notable drawbacks to consider.

  1. Setup costs: The initial setup for on-prem systems typically involves higher upfront costs compared to cloud-based solutions.
  2. Management costs: Additionally, they require a dedicated in-house IT team to manage and maintain the system, which can increase operational costs.
  3. Scalability: As the needs of the facility grow or change, scaling an on-prem system can be complex and costly. It often involves significant hardware upgrades or even complete system overhauls, which isn't always feasible for every organization.
  4. Security vulnerabilities: Despite the internal control, on-prem systems can actually pose security risks. They are susceptible to physical tampering and local network attacks. Without the continuous updates and patches that cloud-based services often provide, on-prem systems can become vulnerable to evolving cyber threats.

Each of these factors plays a critical role in deciding whether an on-premises solution is suitable for a specific facility’s needs.

Cloud-based access control software

Cloud-based access control software is hosted on the provider's servers and accessed over the internet. This modern approach is increasingly popular among businesses of all sizes due to its flexibility and scalability.

One of the biggest advantages of cloud-based systems is their ease of installation and lower upfront costs. There is no need for extensive hardware setups, which makes it an economical option for many organizations. Here are some key benefits:

  1. Reduced initial investment: Cloud-based systems eliminate the need for costly hardware installations and maintenance, significantly reducing initial expenses.
  2. Scalability: These systems can easily scale with your business, accommodating new users and expanding physical access as your organization grows without the need for physical infrastructure changes.
  3. Automatic updates: Service providers manage all maintenance and updates, ensuring that the system is always running the latest software versions, which enhances security and functionality.
  4. Remote management: Users can manage and monitor access controls remotely from anywhere, offering convenience and operational flexibility. This is particularly useful for businesses with multiple locations.
  5. Enhanced security: Contrary to some misconceptions, cloud-based systems offer robust security measures, including encrypted data transmission and regular security audits by providers to protect against cyber threats.

Cloud-based access control offers convenience, cost-efficiency, and robust security, making it an attractive option for businesses looking to modernize their access control systems.

8 important access control software features to look for

When selecting a modern access control system, it's crucial to choose one equipped with robust features that can address current and future security needs. These features collectively ensure that your access control system is equipped to handle both present and future security challenges, making it a crucial investment for the safety and efficiency of your operations.

Here are the must-have features for any future-proof access management system:

1. Mobile credentials and access cards

A versatile system should support both traditional key cards and mobile credentials, allowing users to access secured areas via their mobile device. This dual approach caters to varying user preferences and technological capabilities.

2. Scalable solutions

The system must be capable of scaling seamlessly as your organization grows. Look for scalable solutions that can easily integrate additional doors, users, and even buildings without significant infrastructure changes.

3. Multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication should be a standard feature to enhance security. This requires users to present two or more verification factors to gain access, combining something they have (like a card or mobile credentials) with something they know (a PIN) or something they are (biometric verification).

4. Real-time visibility and alerts

Gain real-time visibility into the status of entry points and receive instant alerts for any unauthorized access attempts or breaches. This feature is critical for immediate response to potential security threats.

5. Wireless locks and control panel

Implement wireless locks to reduce wiring complexity and facilitate easier installations and maintenance. The control panel should be intuitive, enabling straightforward management of lock schedules and permissions.

6. Video surveillance systems

Integrate video surveillance systems to monitor and record access events. This not only deters unauthorized access but also provides valuable footage for investigations if security breaches occur.

7. Audit trails

Maintain detailed audit trails for all access control decisions. This includes entries, exits, and attempted breaches, providing a transparent and traceable log that is essential for security audits and compliance.

8. Intrusion detection

Incorporate intrusion detection capabilities to actively monitor and respond to potential security breaches. This system works in tandem with real-time alerts to provide a comprehensive security solution.

Find out if B-Line is the right tool for your buildings

B-Line offers a comprehensive access control platform designed to enhance commercial and industrial building security and improve operations.

  • Seamless access management: Transition from traditional keys to digital, mobile access, simplifying entry for tenants and visitors.
  • Enhanced security: Real-time monitoring and access controls ensure that only authorized personnel enter your property, maintaining high-security standards.
  • Tenant convenience: With B-Line, tenants can manage bookings, report issues, and control visitor access directly from their smartphones, streamlining operations and improving the user experience.
  • Integrated solutions: The platform integrates effortlessly with existing systems, making setup and transition smooth without requiring extensive hardware upgrades.

Interested but not sure which features are must-haves for your building? We'll run you through a quick demo of the platform and talk about what a custom solution would look like for you.

Get in touch with our team today.