Access Control Management Software Guide

By Brian Rhodes, Published Jan 06, 2015, 12:00am EST

In access control, the locks, readers and credentials may be what most see but its the management software where everything is controlled. In this guide, we cover the most common parts of this software and provide an overview of how the pieces relate to managing an access system.

Basic Purpose

The function of Access Control Management software is fourfold, with distinct functions and management focuses:

  1. Live View: Displaying the current state of the access system; if doors are locked/unlocked, and which users are interacting with doors.
  2. Door Management: Configuring every opening is critical, to ensure it opens and remains locked on schedule or depending on credential.
  3. Cardholder Management: Administering all potential users for their needed access privileges, and updating those records as needed.
  4. Reporting: This offers users to forensically review log details collected by the system - when and where credentials were used, and when openings were unlocked.

We examine each of these four areas inside.

Essential Elements

While each management platform varies based on appearance and terminology, it contains the same basic elements. These include:

  • Monitoring Interface
  • Configuring Doors & Controllers
  • Access Rule Creation and Application
  • User/Credential Management 
  • Access Schedule Configuration
  • Report Creator

In many cases, these elements are contained in a server or appliance separate from door controllers. System designed for smaller numbers of readers and doors may be hosted on a dedicated panel, but enterprise systems may require several servers to host the features and integrations of large numbers of doors.

Monitoring Interface

 Live View allows operators to peer in to the current state of doors in real time.  Exact interface features and layout vary, but most include:

  • Door Events: Every time someone requests passage through a door, a lock released, or a door is opened the event is logged.
  • Alarm Report: If someone holds a door open too long, forces a door open, or attempts using an invalid credential, the interface sends an alert or draws operator attention to the event.
  • Lock/Unlock Controls: An operator has the option to manually unlock or lock a door remotely, often to all doors in a single 'lockdown' operation.

This screenshot shows how this information is typically displayed and organized, usually in a timeline of event messages:

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

The video below gives an overview of this element:


Video Integration usually displays live video feeds next to badge photos so operators can visually verify the person entering is valid:

Configuring Doors and Controllers

The management platform provides the ability to add new controllers and to tweak configuration of those devices to fit each opening. Because each opening is used differently, even doors consisting of the same hardware may need to be slightly altered for efficient use. The videos below shows the 'typical' features to expect when doing these actions:


Access Rules and Schedules

The key advantage of electronic access control versus mechanical locks and door keys is the ability to restrict when and when credentials can be used. Some platforms enforce these rules against doors, while others associate them with specific cardholders. Schedules and levels are commonly configurable down to exact seconds:

 

Other platforms combine either option, granting a group of physical doors or cardholders enhanced security privileges. The videos below show off the basics of these features:

Access Rules


Access Schedules


 User Management

Access management extends beyond just configuring doors. Every user, and the credentials they possess, are integral pieces of any system. The common user management functions headend software include:

  • Adding or Changing Users
  • Associating Credentials with Users
  • Printing Badges

The videos below provides an overview of these features:

Adding Cardholders


Adding Credentials


System Reports

A key feature of management, querying activity logs is the equivalent to searching for recorded video.  The clip below is a short overview of what to expect and how it is organized in an Access Management software:


 

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