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Entrance control and access control - of the physical kind - are common terms in the security industry which are often used interchangeably, but should they be?

Having worked both sides of the fence, with previous roles at TDSi and HID and now the Major Accounts and Marketing Manager at Integrated Design Limited, Tony Smith highlights the subtle but important differences between these two terms and the systems they refer to, outlining how they should work together to achieve optimal security.

Access control is a system which provides discriminating authentication

Access control provides a discriminating authentication process and comprises the software or hardware that defines the criteria for acceptance or denial Used to describe a system which performs identification of users and authentication of their credentials (deciding whether or not the bearer of those credentials is permitted admission) access control is an incredibly broad term. Access control provides a discriminating authentication process and comprises the software or hardware that defines the criteria for acceptance or denial of an individual to a restricted area.

Entrance control – such as security turnstiles - takes the output of that validation and has the capability to see whether that criteria is being adhered to, either granting or denying access as appropriate.

Entrance control is the hardware responsible for keeping people honest

If access control verifies authorised personnel using their credentials – their face, fingerprints, PIN number, fob, key card etc – and decides whether or not they are permitted access, entrance control is the hardware which enforces that decision by making users present their credentials in the correct way, either opening to allow pedestrian access or remaining closed to bar entry and potentially raising an alarm.

For example, a card reader acts as an access control device, recognising the card holder as having the correct permissions and saying ‘yes, this person can pass’. But, it’s the entrance control system – a turnstile, for example – which actually physically allows or denies access.

Physical access and video surveillance

Some entrance control systems don’t feature a physical barrier, however. Fastlane Optical turnstiles will not physically stop an unauthorised person from passing through, and instead alarm when someone fails to present valid credentials, alerting security staff that a breach has occurred. These kinds of turnstiles are suited to environments which just need to delineate between the public and secure side of an entrance, with less need to physically prevent unauthorised users from entering.

These kinds of turnstiles are suited to environments which just need to delineate between the public and secure side of an entrance
State of the art access control integrations have been installed for award-winning complex, The Bower

It’s also possible to capture video footage of any incidents, allowing security personnel to identify users failing to abide by the access control system’s rules, using It’s also possible to capture video footage of incidents, allowing security personnel to identify users failing to abide by access control system rules the footage to decide on the level of response required. The breach could have been the result of a member of staff being in a hurry and failing to show their card before passing through, in which case they can be reminded about the security protocol. Or, it could be an unidentified person who needs to be escorted from the premises.

Entrance control and access control working together

For optimum security, access control and entrance control should work together, with the entrance control system enhancing the use of the access control system, making it more efficient and better value for money. The two can’t effectively operate without each other. Security turnstiles, for example, require something to tell them that someone is about to enter – the access control system does this – and, the access control system needs a method of stopping people when they don’t badge in correctly. The two systems are complementary.

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Tony Smith Major Accounts and Marketing Manager - Entrance Control and Turnstile Security, IDL

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