Access control vs. traditional locks: which is better & how?

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The concept of security has substantially upgraded because of technological advancements. We have seen a shift from mechanical locks to electronic locks and door access control systems which are more relied upon nowadays for watertight security and safety. But, choosing the system that is the best for you requires understanding how both these technologies work.

In this article, you will get a clear idea of:

  • How electronic locks are better than traditional locks
  • The difference between access control systems and new locking mechanisms
  • Why biometric technology is the best access control system

What are traditional locks?

These are mechanical locks having strong metal deadbolts, knob locks, levers, etc. They always require a matching physical key. Mechanical locks are easy to install and can protect houses and small offices. However, their keys can be copied easily. Anyone with a key can open a mechanical lock, no matter if it isn’t the owner.

Insight: The only advantage of mechanical locks is they’re very modestly priced, so if your security requirements aren’t very complex, mechanical locks can serve you well.

The new-age electronic locks

Electronic or digital door locks give you increased control over who can enter your premises, extending greater security and accessibility. They are operated using cards or biometrics. Cards cannot be copied without the owner or the manufacturer’s knowledge. Some smart digital locks also provide information on who accessed your door and when, and any attempts of forced entry. 

Insight: Although more costly than traditional locks, electronic locks are a better option and investment.

What is access control?

Access control is a comprehensive system of security that

  • covers all the doors or access points of your premises,
  • only allows entry to people who are registered in the system,
  • exercises surveillance in terms of IDing each user requesting access, and
  • maintains detailed records of all transactions done on the system.

The elements required for installing and operating an access control system are:

  1. The access reader – This is installed on or beside the door or the access point, is connected to the electric lock, and acts upon the instructions programmed into it by the administrator.
  2. The access key – An RFID reader uses an RFID card key, and a biometric reader uses a biometric identifier (fingerprint, palmprint, etc.).
  3. The control panel – This stores all the information of the access keys, employees, visitors, etc. and reads commands from the key and sends it to the reader.
  4. Electronic lock – The access control door locks are controlled by the control panel.

Access control systems go beyond electronic locks as they bring your entire premises under one security framework for convenient monitoring.

Why biometric access control systems are the best bet

Biometrics – the science of evaluating features of the human body to establish your identity. Biometric technology has been earning immense approval all over the world in the last two decades. From quick access to managing records of visitors, biometrics does it all, making it the best access control system in use. 

As a general practice, companies looking to install biometric security solutions should consider the following points to make their decision easier and more accurate:

  • The purpose for which the system is to be installed.
  • The group of employees who will be using it.
  • The area and scale where it is going to function.

Understanding biometric access control mechanisms

According to reports, biometric verification was first encouraged by law enforcement agencies in the 1800s to identify criminals. Later, it was adopted by businesses and large companies for recording the attendance of their employees and maintaining records. Today, technological advancements have developed biometric access control & security systems that can analyze an array of biometric identifiers:

  • Facial Recognition 
  • Fingerprint Recognition
  • Voice Recognition 
  • Iris Recognition
  • Retinal Scans

The easiest to install and the most common biometric ACS (access control system) is fingerprint recognition. They’re highly preferred by organizations of all scales and sizes and are easy for employees to operate as well. Next in line is facial recognition, which is slightly expensive due to its equipment and tech, but highly adopted, nevertheless. This has become possible due to facial unlocking systems flooding the smartphone market and making this technology more normalized, plus the onset of the covid-19 pandemic that surged the demands for contactless solutions everywhere. 

Insight: For this reason, many biometric access control system manufacturers develop scalable devices that can accommodate multiple identifiers as per the client’s necessities.

A unique benefit of the voice recognition component in access control mechanisms is ‘convenience with fun’. We cannot deny the expediency of “Hello Google”, “Hey Siri” and “Alexa” in Google Assistant and Apple’s voice recognition facilities. Voice recognition is a comparatively costlier access control mechanism and so small companies hesitate to employ it.  

Insight: Voice recognition is a developing technology; it can become cost-efficient in the future.  

Both iris recognition and retinal scans are ocular-based biometric identification technologies that seem similar but are actually quite different. A retina scan is performed by casting a beam of low-energy infrared light into a person’s eye as they look through a scanner’s eyepiece at close range. Iris scanning uses camera technology to obtain a detail-rich image mapping out the intricate structure of the iris.


  • Retina scanning is more invasive than iris scanning because the retina is positioned at the back of the eye.
  • Iris scans take a picture of the iris from a distance, whereas retina scanning takes a picture of the iris by putting the person’s eye close to the scanner.

Insight: Companies looking to install these 2 systems should consider the users as retina scanning works the best for in-person authentication, and iris scanning can be done digitally.

How does access control transcend all other locking systems?

The number of benefits that modern access control systems offer is quite evident. They encompass all features of traditional as well as electronic locks and amplify security to a significant level. Moreover, biometric access control raises the bar by eliminating the risks of keys/ proximity cards getting stolen and enforcing identity-based access so that only the one who is authorized can enter.

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