Security Consultant

The Basics of Physical Security Systems

January 9, 2020
By: Michael Smith, Contributor


Physical Security – Video Surveillance vs Physical Access Control Systems

There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to modern business security. Monitored video surveillance solutions are fantastic for deterring crime and catching criminals as property crimes are in progress. However, physical access control systems are still the number one security solution for actual crime prevention.

Physical Access Control Systems vs CCTV Video Surveillance


In every case, the best business security solution for your property will depend on what you need protecting.


What physical access control or video surveillance solutions are right for your property, will also depend on your property architecture and location. As a property or business owner, your first step should, therefore, always be to arrange a business-specific security consultation and survey.


What Does A Business Security Consultation Entail?


Before arranging an on-site consultation with a security professional, your business will need to conduct an in-house security risk assessment. The outcome of this should determine what security threats your business faces, and what critical assets you need protecting.


During a security consultation, a security system professional will then survey your premises for potential security weak spots.


  • A security survey will assess your property architecture, layout, and existing premises security.


  • Security consultants will help you identify security weak spots that criminals are most likely to attempt to take advantage of.


  • After identifying and quantifying security risks, a security assessor will make recommendations concerning what systems and security procedures will offer you the best level of protection.


What Business Security Solution will be Right for Your Property?

What physical access control or video surveillance solutions will offer you the best level of property protection, will always depend on your property and the nature of your business.


For the likes of storage yards, warehouses, and vehicle depots, security consultants will often recommend that you install monitored video surveillance and motion detection equipped alarm systems.


As a rule, monitored CCTV systems won’t prevent unauthorized access to your property. However, 24/7 monitoring will alert you and law enforcement officials to potential security threats as these are detected.


  • Monitored video surveillance solutions work as an effective crime deterrent.


  • Video surveillance can help business owners thwart crime as it happens.


  • Recording video footage of security incidents helps prosecute criminals and helps business owners settle insurance claims.


Video surveillance solutions are also often used in conjunction with physical access control systems. However, motion and video monitoring shouldn’t be relied on exclusively when high-value inventory or the physical safety of business employees is at stake.


If high-value inventory or the safety of your business employees is at risk, you ideally need to invest in a for-purpose physical access control system.


What are Physical Access Control Systems?


Physical access control systems go one step beyond basic premises security monitoring.


Standalone video surveillance solutions can only detect and monitor on-site security events. By comparison, physical access control systems work to physically prevent unauthorized access to secure areas.


At their most basic physical access control systems can take the form of physical barriers like store shutters and perspex security screens, that protect business employees from members of the public. However, physical access control systems can also take the form of more hi-tech electronic access control systems.


What Kind of Physical Access Control System Might be Right for Your Business?


There are hundreds of different kinds of physical access control systems currently on the market. However, the most common include electronic, biometric and mobile/RFID access control systems


Electronic Access Control Systems

Electronic access control systems take the form of panels and electronic locking mechanisms that restrict access to specific property areas. Access is granted to secure areas, only when security credentials like passcodes that match those of authorized personnel are input at security portals.


Biometric Access Control Systems


Biometric access control systems are similar to electronic access control systems. However, instead of entering numerical key codes or presenting smart access cards, authorized personnel use fingerprint recognition or iris scans to gain access to secure areas.

The use of biometric data in this way ensures that security credentials like passcodes can’t accidentally fall into the wrong hands.


Mobile and RFID Access Control Systems

Mobile and RFID access control systems are similar to electronic and biometric access control systems. However, instead of authenticating passcodes or biometric data, security portals authenticate digital identity information stored on wireless RFID microchips or electronic devices.

Using RFID technology in this way pairs convenience with security, as access to secure areas is automatically granted to people with the right level of security clearance, when they are in close proximity to security portals.

Typically, physical access control systems are used to create secure portals between different business areas such as the cash rooms and customer-facing service counters. However, physical access control systems can also be used to secure business entrances, hotel accommodation, and sheltered housing.


What Physical Security System Should You Choose?

The best physical security solution for your business will always depend on your specific business operations, working procedures, and existing premises security. However, any security solution you implement should always offer rapid detection and real-time reporting of security threats.

Out of hours, most security professionals will advise that you use motion detectors, alarm sensors, and IP enabled CCTV to be alerted in real-time to potential security threats. However, only a professional security audit will give you the individualized insights you need to protect your property, your employees, and your your business patrons to the fullest extent possible.


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