The Role of Smart Cards in Access Control

Many organization or facility be it a school, university, office, warehouse, hospital or even a residential building have a need to implement access control to its physical resources.

Access control involves identity verification as well as determination of the specific level of access an individual is allowed.

Smart cards have been used for many years now in access control solutions in each of the above scenarios. In offices, they provide a solution for access control as well as attendance management. In residential buildings they provide easy access to residents while keeping intruders from accessing resources like gyms, pools and mail rooms. They also provide an automatic audit history for every time any resource was accessed.

Flexibility, versatility and the inbuilt security features of smart cards have made them an irreplaceable feature of many access control systems.

While smart card technology has evolved over the years from magnetic strip cards to NFC based contactless smart cards, the principle involved is the same. A plastic card contains an embedded computer chip which can store data and/or instructions. In case of access control solutions, the data stored is unique for every user. The data can be read by the card reader which is usually installed at the entrance of the building / facility or on the equipment for which access needs to be controlled.

The reader reads the card data when the card comes into contact with the reader (in case of contact based smart cards) or when the card is brought near the reader (for contactless smart cards). The reader communicates this information to the access controller which carries out the required processing to grant or deny access. Thus, smart cards can be used to verify and grant access. Following are the additional advantages of smart cards in access control solutions.

Increase accountability: Every entry and exit is accounted for in a card access control system. The likelihood of fraudulent activities is reduced and these systems provide better data of in case of unexpected/unapproved movements.
Ease of policy updates: Facility managers can easily apply policy updates applicable to various equipment, facilities or groups of people. This involves allowing or denying access and privileges to specific departments, rooms, equipment, facilities at specific time of the day, week or month.
Protection against loss: Once a lost card is reported it can easily be cancelled in the system so that it cannot be used for fraudulent access by anyone else.
Visitor management: Card based systems help in easy visitor management. Depending on the purpose of the visit, access can be granted to specific areas of the building or facility for a limited period of time.
Providing insights: The information captured by the smart card system can be used to generate insights about resource usage which provides an opportunity to managers to better plan and utilize available resources or discard the ones which are not in use.
Inexpensive: When ordered in bulk quantities, smart cards can be considerably cheap and affordable, thus reducing the overall cost of the solution.
Integration: Smart cards may be easily integrated with smart phones or other wearables like wrist bands so that users can wear their keys/identity.

If you would like to discuss a Smart Card option for your security needs, CDS will be able to evaluate your needs and propose the most efficient and effective system for you.

If you would like to speak to us in regards to this, call us on 1300 858 237 or email

Feb 5, 2020
Previous page: Centralized Remote Managed Services Next page: Support