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The Importance of Protecting Access Control Systems

Access Control SystemsMany facilities have areas secured and protected by Access Control systems, including all types of businesses, government and educational institutions, manufacturing and storage facilities, and even residential buildings. The reasons for this control are as varied as the facilities themselves. In one case, the purpose might be safety – to keep people away from hazardous machinery or chemicals. In other cases, it might be to prevent theft, provide a secure work space, keep non-residents out, or to make sure members have paid their fees. In every case, these systems are implemented to ensure that only authorized people can enter these protected areas.


For example, many medium- and high-density residential complexes are installing access control security systems to help manage potential safety and security risks such as visitor safety, theft, and vandalism. Access control systems are gaining popularity in housing complexes because they provide real-time deterrence for unlawful activities, and because they can provide powerful functionality, accountability and data for housing facility managers that cannot be provided by traditional key-based control systems.

For another example, airports are a central component of our national transportation systems, and must therefore tightly control access to areas that could be vulnerable to sabotage, theft, and other terrorist or criminal activities. To help manage these risks, airports install access control systems both in sensitive interior areas and in outdoor areas to monitor the perimeter and prevent unauthorized entry.

Clearly, these systems are an essential component to any safety and security program. The question is, what can we do to protect these essential protective systems?

Surge Protection Solutions

Every unprotected electronic security system, including access control systems, is likely to incur some damage during its lifetime from electrical power surges and spikes. These surge events will not cause every system to fail, but every unprotected system has an increased chance of failure versus fully protected systems. For an essential system such as access control, which has the capability to deter a potential criminal or terrorist, the small additional price for protection should be no barrier for implementation. The cost of providing surge protection is typically less than the sales tax on the protected system.

We all know that lightning strikes can cause power surges. But what surprises many people is that surges can also be caused from equipment within or nearby the facility, or even by unseen events such as switching on the power supply grid. Power surges don’t always create a big dramatic outage. In fact, most surges go undetected, yet they gradually damage your expensive equipment, one surge at a time, until your system finally fails.

According to best practices, every sensitive electronic system should have surge protection at its supplied power connection, in addition to the surge protection that is installed at the facility power entry point. This is important because damaging power surges can be created inside the facility perimeter by inductive load switching, (from the operation of HVAC systems, for example) in addition to coming in through the building power connections.

Best practices for protecting sensitive electronic systems also include surge protection at both ends of all connected network equipment, as the network cabling provides a conductive path for electrical power surges. This is vital for cabling paths that run to exterior areas including outdoor access control readers, gate control panels, electronic locks, or any other networked electronics or sensors.

Even in areas with little or no lightning activity, exterior electronic equipment is vulnerable to the effects of wind, rain and static electricity. Any device that is powered has the potential to create an electrical fault or short circuit that can transmit damaging power surges through the network cabling to damage other parts of the system.

Protect Your Access Control System

Damaging electrical surges are a part of daily life, whether we notice them or not. Every facility can implement simple, cost effective surge protection to help ensure that their access control systems will be functioning when they are needed most. Don’t ignore this silent business threat; make sure you install electrical surge protection.

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