Sunday, February 21, 2016



Most people think access control involves using technology or a guard who checks some form of identification to allow entry into a facility or building – a guard or electronics, and that it.  The security industry has made tremendous gains in the last several years with regards to increasing technology’s capabilities to enhance control at building or compounds.  While these advances assist they are not the cure all.  They are simply tools that assist in the detection of unwanted behavior.  

With that in mind here are three common myths about access control:

Myth 1 – The perimeter or boundary line must be robust in order to adequately provide access control.  This simply is not true.  The US Air Force uses a painted red line on the ground around its nuclear deterrent capable aircraft.  There’s no fence, there no standing guard – just a red line.  The line basically says to everyone, “If you’re on that side of the line, we don’t care who you are or what you do, but, if you want to come on this side of the line we want you to go down to the opening so we can check you out”.  So, really anything can be used – a rope, series of shrubs/plants or a painted line, something that says, here’s the line of demarcation that I care about.

Myth 2 – Fences are a deterrent – NOT!  It takes less than 4 seconds for an unskilled person to climb over a fence, including those with concertina or razor wire.  While adding some type of top guard makes them look formidable they’re really not very effective as a deterrent.  They’re real values comes in the form of detection.  They allow us to detect unwanted behavior.   Think about it, most authorized people will proceed to an access control point, they won’t climb the fence.  Only unauthorized people climb fences; therefore, it serves as a detection mechanism.

Myth 3 – The boundary line or perimeter is the only point available for security personnel to affect access control.  Actually, there are four layers of physical security and each can provide for effective access control, if used correctly.  The layers are; 1 – boundary line or property perimeter, 2 – exterior enclave, 3 – asset façade, and 4 – internal controlled or restricted spaces.  Each layer provides an additional opportunity for control, if used effectively.  Not every asset has a layer 2 or 4 but all have layers 1 and 3, even if, the asset is free standing.  In this case, the façade serves as both layers 1 and 3.  Each layer should be used to deter (albeit limited), delay, detect and allow for response.  This layered approach is fundamental to effective access control.

We’ll discuss perimeter security and entry control facility design during a workshop 19-21 July near Tacoma, WA. For more information contact us at +1 (805) 509-8655.