When designing and constructing residential and commercial buildings, there is a wide range of entrance accommodations to be considered. Depending on the expected use of the facility, these considerations might range from the number and size of doorways to loading docks, freight elevators, ramps, hallways, temperature and airflow control, stairs, weather resistance, and much more.

The ongoing attention to risk mitigation has prompted new requirements for controlling access, both in staffed and unstaffed locations, to ensure that only authorized individuals have easy access to building spaces. The most common approach today is to install a purpose-built access control system on site that maintains credentials and allows only authorized people to pass through controlled doorways. Designing buildings with these capabilities requires not only electronic locking systems, but also the space, power allocation, and connectivity for the access control system itself.

In one of the more interesting recent security market trends, some leading access control companies are offering cloud-based access control systems that eliminate much of the local hardware that would normally be installed on site, replacing the functions of that equipment with remote servers and software.

Why consider cloud-based access control?

Why would an architect or engineer consider recommending remotely located access control system equipment? There are three key reasons that these systems are gaining traction among this community.

  1. By using remotely-based equipment, users can avoid the capital expense of purchasing the system hardware, shifting the cost to an ongoing operational expense instead. Covering the expense of access control in monthly payments rather than one large investment in a system that must then be maintained and eventually replaced is attractive to many organizations.
  2. Typically, other services such as backups and software updates are included in the monthly fee, making it much simpler for companies that do not have dedicated IT support to feel confident that the system is being maintained properly.
  3. Using a cloud-based system makes it far easier to implement “access from anywhere” capabilities. In this approach, managers and other authorized people can view and edit authorities, enroll or de-list employees and residents, and force lockdowns or door opens from anywhere that they can access a network – from their smart phones, for example.

Together, these reasons are driving adoption of cloud-based access control systems. This type of solution also impacts building design, reducing the need for space and power for local equipment. There may also be an increase in the need for network connectivity that will have to be taken into account for both new construction and renovations. Moving to cloud-based access control will have little to no effect on building components like security doors, locking hardware and turnstiles, all of which will still be required on site.

Modern access control systems can easily handle installations with a mixture of doors and turnstiles, in staffed or unstaffed locations, and tie in with visitor management and similar management software. With minimal on-site requirements for space and power, it is easier than ever to include comprehensive access control capabilities into any type of commercial and residential building.