What is Barcode Access Management?
Barcode Access Management refers to managing and monitoring entrances and exits in a facility or area within a facility. These systems are similar to the physical locks and keys used to access our homes but rely on computer controlled locks and readers to provide access. Barcode Access Management systems offer increased security and improved reporting over manual systems. Barcode Access Management systems typically include the following components:
- Barcode or other identifying media which contains the access or control number. Typically, this media would be an employee ID tag with a the control or access number encoded in a barcode.
- Barcode Reader allows reading of the employee access number and communicates with the access management software
- Electronically controlled locks and door sensors give the ability to lock and unlock the door or other physical barrier (gate, ramp, etc.) based on electronic commands from the management software. The lock communicates the time and duration of opening and closing to the barcode access management software.
- Barcode Access Management Software stores the access control lists and communicates with barcode readers and locks. It locks and unlocks access points in accordance with the rules set up for each area and access or control number. The software stores all access data and allows robust reporting of access transactions.
Because automated control replaces mechanical locks and keys, security is dramatically improves. Access can be restricted to specific time periods and denied for others. Access can easily be denied for barcode access or control numbers that are lost or are believed to be compromised. This eliminates the need for locks to be changed if the physical key is lost or stolen. Barcode Access Management systems log all data associated with the access to include ID, time of access, and duration of access.
Because access is controlled by a computer running Barcode Access Management software, you have much more control and information regarding the security of your facility. These systems give you an accurate, secure and easy way to comply with government and other contracts were access to secure information, equipment and processes must be demonstrated.
Barcode Access Management software offers these advantages:
- Easy modification of access lists
- Database storage of all access transactions, including the "who, where and when" of the area access
- Quick reporting options of all access transaction data
- Accurate list of personnel in the facility in case of emergency
- Automatically lock and open areas, allowing door open time as specified by the system. This is useful for restricting access after normal business operating hours.
- Alarms for unauthorized access attempts, doors left open, forced opening attempts, etc.
Barcode Access Management specifically uses barcode technology to allow the user to enter his control or access number. An important part of this system is the barcode reader. Imaging technology in barcode scanners allow a quick and efficient way to enter control numbers. The Barcode Access Management system can use a "swipe" reader, where the user swipes the ID card through what is similar to a credit card reader. The system may also use an omni-directional barcode reader, which allows the user to present his barcode control number anywhere within a target "square". Regardless of orientation, these barcode scanners can decode the barcode and read the control or access number.
There are popular arguments against the use of barcodes (generally by competing technology suppliers) in Barcode Access Management systems. These arguments promote the use of "smart card" technology. Smart cards use an active or passive transmitter in the card to communicate with the reader. Although this technology is a viable alternative for encoding access or control numbers, the arguments against barcode technology are inaccurate. Below are the arguments against using barcodes with factual answers. We also list the disadvantages of using other technologies.
- The barcode can be reproduced easily, increasing the likelihood of fraud - Although a barcode can be reproduced, so can any method of encoding the access or control number. In each case however, the ID would have to be lost or stolen. Since the compromise of that ID would be reported, it would be removed from the "approved" access list in the system. A good Barcode Access Management system encrypts all the control or access numbers that are printed on the barcode. Reproduction of similar codes would be next to impossible as the encryption method would be unknown. Encryption is touted as the benefit of other encoding technologies that has been incorporated in security focused barcode applications for decades.
- The barcode could be smudged or worn, decreasing readability - The validity of this argument is dependent on the method used to print the barcode on the ID badge. Since ID cards need to be durable, they are normally laminated to eliminate the effects of wear and tear on readability. This durability extends to the barcode printed on the ID. Good ID cards are difficult to scratch and impossible to smudge. In extremes, any media can be damaged beyond the point of it being readable - including smart card technology.
- Barcode readers have trouble reading damaged barcodes - Simply not true. A good barcode reader will have decode logic tuned to remove any damage it sees from the barcode. In reality, the barcode reader only has to see .005 vertical inches of the barcode in order to get a good read and decode. Decoders are designed specifically so that the barcode reader can read damaged codes. If this assertion were true, we'd have a terrible time getting through the scanning process at the grocery store.
- Barcode technology is inexpensive, therefore it is a at greater risk for fraud - This argument is patently false also. Low cost and high reliability are the core advantages of using barcode technology. The cost of a barcode is less than 10% of the cost of magnetic stripe or transponder methods. No method is immune to theft or fraud, regardless of cost. If a control or access number is compromises, the cost if issuing a new barcoded one is a fraction of the cost of replacing those that use other methods.
Barcode Access Management systems offer a level of control and security superior to mechanical security measures. The costs of implementing these systems typically are less than providing physical security (security guards) at the facility for less than a year. Barcode Access Management systems allow real-time reporting of access data, and allow your business to easily comply with government and other contractual requirements. Barcode technology is lower in cost and similar in security to using other ID card methods.