Choosing an Access Control System

Connected technology has become deeply ingrained in our 21st century lives thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). This network of interconnected, embedded devices that captures and transmits data over a wireless network automates so many personal and job-related tasks, saving us time and money. You find this technology widely used in healthcare where patients are wearing smart patches to allow remote health screenings, and smart cars that allow you to start the engine and warm up the car right from an app on your phone. Now, this technology has been applied to property management, most notably in the form of an access control system. 

Access control system header image

What Is an Access Control System? 

An access control system provides a way to manage access points on a given property. A complete access control system often involves software designed specifically to communicate with smart locks and/or hardwired doors to allow or prohibit entry at property doors. The software brings many helpful functions to managing access, including remote control of access. 

It’s worth noting that the term “access control system” can sometimes be used when referring to managing access to software or other company assets by remote workers. To differentiate from this type of access, some may use “physical access control system” when referring to methods of managing the access of employees, guests, residents or others at a physical location. 

In the past, “access control system” also had another meaning. Often referred to by its acronym, ACS, this term was used exclusively to define a door system that’s hardwired into a property’s power supply, requiring its own panel and wiring to operate. Such a wired system is a very secure, reliable solution for heavy-traffic doors that need a constant source of power versus batteries, which would need replacing too often.

traditional access control system image
A traditional access control system includes a lock and read connected to a hardwired control panel.

But in today’s IoT world, this definition has become outdated. Today, an access control system refers to a comprehensive solution that can manage both smart locks and hardwired doors. For example, RemoteLock is an access control system or software platform designed for property managers in multifamily, vacation rental and commercial industries to manage every type of door from the cloud. With RemoteLock’s access control system, users can choose from an ever-expanding offering of smart locks and wired hardware, integrate other essential business software and manage it all on one platform.

digital access control systems
Modern access control systems allow for a variety of wired and wireless hardware.

RemoteLock’s universal access control system gives customers the ultimate flexibility when granting any person access to any space, from anywhere. This access control system: 

  • Is cloud-based so you can manage your system remotely, from anywhere, via your smartphone or laptop
  • Uses one central dashboard to manage and control whole-building access versus swiveling between disparate systems
  • Covers every door—hardwired doors, smart locks, algorithmic PINs
  • Works with many of the most popular lock brands
  • Integrates smoothly with essential business software such as property management systems, rental booking platforms and more
  • Enhances security with real-time control and visibility into who is entering, where and when
  • Allows for customized access schedules for residents, guests, visitors and vendors
  • Offers “Common Door” feature to easily duplicate access to main entries, laundries, fitness rooms and other common doors
Access Control Systems Keypad 2

Begin at the Beginning:

Door Access Control

Whether you own or manage a multifamily portfolio of several apartment buildings, vacation rental properties or a commercial property, you have doors and different sets of people who need access. This is a great way to begin planning for your access control system: door by door with door access control

Door Access Control for Interior Doors

Typically, you’ll find three types of interior doors on properties: unit doors, common area entries and service doors. Your access control system should cover any door on your property, giving you one point-of-command to manage access. 

Door Access for Unit Doors Image
Door Access Control for Unit Doors

Most commonly found in multifamily and other rental properties, these doors require optimal security for residents to feel comfortable while inside their units. But since only a select number of people access these doors day-to-day, they’re almost always considered light use. That’s why a quality smart lock is a good match for this application.

With RemoteLock, you can choose from over 100 market-leading smart locks. Unlike solutions that tie you down with proprietary hardware, RemoteLock gives you choice.

Door Access Control for Common Area Entries
Access Control Systems Keypad

From pools and gyms to mail rooms and rooftop patios, these common areas can be found across numerous properties such as office buildings and multifamily buildings. Depending on the structure of your property, common areas can be accessible to every resident and/or employee on any given day, requiring your locking solution to be durable and flexible enough to support a large and diverse number of users, not to mention high traffic. 

Hardwired systems are recommended for this door access control application due to the need for reliability and the near-constant traffic such doors receive. Multifamily properties often place a reader on these doors like an HID Signo 20-K Reader with PIN pad. It ensures the convenience of many types of credential technologies such as PINs, key cards and fobs. Plus, when enabled by RemoteLock software, you can easily track entry and exit from a dashboard on your smartphone or laptop, from anywhere. Just remember that any hardwired door access control requires professional installation and the guidance of an access expert.  

Door Access for Service Door Image
Door Access Control for Service Doors

These low-traffic areas could be storage closets, maintenance rooms, or any other space that strictly allows access for a certain set of users. Door access control for service doors is similar to residential doors. Look for an accessible and intuitive Wi-Fi lock that’s compatible with RemoteLock, so you can send and revoke unique PIN codes when needed. Or, if Wi-Fi is unstable or unavailable, consider an offline lock like those enabled with ReadyPIN technology.

Door Access Control: Hardwired v. Wireless

Your lock hardware can be controlled using a variety of connection technologies. Two common technologies are wireless or Wi-Fi and doors that are hardwired. 

Wi-Fi Smart Lock These smart locks are controlled using Wi-Fi network connectivity and require batteries to operate. Wi-Fi locks are cloud-enabled and typically operate via intervals to routinely check-in and send information to the cloud or receive information from the cloud. Since these locks leverage an existing Wi-Fi infrastructure and do not require additional gateways to connect to a network, they are often the easiest and most cost-effective solution for businesses with smaller buildings and fewer entrances, or for larger businesses seeking a more cost-effective solution for low- to medium-traffic entries.

Main Entrance Door Access Image
Hardwired Doors

These doors are hardwired into a building’s power supply and require a control panel to operate, resulting in a more expensive installation and upkeep—but providing a very secure and reliable solution for heavy-traffic entries such as exterior doors, garages and elevators. However, hardwired access control can still be connected to the cloud, be controlled remotely and provide many benefits over other seemingly more tech-advanced access solutions. Hardwired doors require expert consultation, installation and maintenance to ensure the system is best-fit for your property.

RemoteLock Software Screenshot on Laptop

One System for Door Access Control Everywhere

You can manage door access control for every type of door on one platform—RemoteLock’s universal access control. Those difficult-to-manage doors like glass entries, parking garages and elevators are expensive to secure, both in terms of hardware and the labor to wire them. Bring hardwired doors and interior doors with more affordable smart locks together on one centralized platform versus swiveling between different systems. That’s the power of universal access control. 

The Multifamily Approach:

Building Access Control Systems

When planning for an access control system for an entire building like a multifamily property, an advanced access control solution like RemoteLock becomes even more essential. These building access control systems are designed to walk the balance between providing convenience and security for users like residents and visitors and streamlining operations for property owners, managers and staff. 

How do you go about implementing building access control systems? Most technology providers recommend deciding on an optimal user experience first. Today’s prospective residents prioritize seamless, connected experiences, and that includes access. They want easy access from parking garages to main entrances to elevators to common areas to their individual units. This is often referred to as “curb to couch” access, which requires building access control systems that are extremely flexible. 

ButterflyMX Entrance Access Image

RemoteLock sets a new standard in flexibility. For example, it integrates with ButterflyMX, a leading provider of access control technology for multifamily, commercial, gated communities and student housing properties. Through the integration, multifamily properties’ staff and residents just use the intuitive ButterflyMX app right on their smartphones to manage daily access needs. There’s no messing around with different credentials for different doors. Property managers decide which doors operate with a swipe-to-open function or with a PIN. Either way, users love the convenience of getting from curb to their couches through one interface. Plus, visitor access couldn’t be easier with the RemoteLock-ButterflyMX integration. Residents take on this task by creating virtual keys through the ButterflyMX mobile app, providing visitor access for every ButterflyMX intercom and keypad plus any unit or common doors enabled by RemoteLock software and smart locks. Let’s say a resident has a family member visiting for a week. Then, custom virtual keys, which have a specific start and end date, are ideal and super convenient. Finally, managers have remote control over visitor access, too, with the ability to grant access to a delivery or repair person on the fly, right from their smartphones or laptops.   

Credentials for Building Access Control Systems

While the above example highlights mobile credentials, there are other types of access credentials. Multifamily property owners and managers often employ a combination of credentials including PIN codes, prox cards and key fobs, or mobile in their building access control systems. This ensures they meet the needs of a variety of users and door applications. 

For instance, PINs are one of the most basic and affordable methods of controlling access. They’re ideal for low-traffic doors and one-time users like the pizza delivery person or the occasional dog walker. So, in these building access control systems, PINs might be used for residential units. But proximity or “prox” cards and their smaller siblings, key fobs, are used with hardwired doors and may also be needed for accessing the parking garage, let’s say. In any case, multifamily communities often find that several types of credentials best serve their residents and staff. The trick is to be sure you choose from one of the building access control systems that allow you to mix and match credentials like RemoteLock. 

Property-Wide Wi-Fi Is Essential

One thing’s for sure: Today’s building access control systems rely on the internet to operate as they are typically based in the cloud. And there are other pressing reasons why property-wide Wi-Fi is essential in multifamily. 

  • Today’s renters demand it. In recent surveys, 86% of Gen Y-ers would be willing to pay more per month for a unit with remote controlled devices or automated features. Sixty-one percent of Gen Y-ers  are more likely to rent because of electronic access such as keyless entry. And 75% of Gen Z apartment residents said Wi-Fi should be pre-installed and they’ll pay $31 more in monthly rent to get it.
  • Remote work is here to stay. According to a 2023 report, 51% of U.S. companies offer work location flexibility. Savvy multifamily operators have seen that coworking spaces are valuable to many people who don’t have the space or resources to convert their apartments into home offices.
  • Today, many prospects expect smart-home technology in addition to building access control systems. In fact, the vast majority of residents are willing to increase their monthly rent payment to have more technology in their apartments, including smart locks, thermostats and lighting.
Access Control Systems with Gen Z Residents In Elevator

The Commercial Approach:

Identifying the Best Commercial Access Control Systems

Commercial tenant opens entrance door

Office and mixed use buildings often require the best commercial access control systems for the ultimate flexibility and safety these spaces demand. They need to answer the needs of tenants, visitors, vendors and staff, while also being ready to manage from anywhere. 

For example, one tenant in your commercial building runs a retail store. Another manages an accounting firm. The store owner needs high security for several doors to prevent employee theft, but access control also needs to accommodate the high staff turnover inherent in the business. The accounting firm needs easy yet secure access for employees with the ability to track every entry and exit. And they both want to be able to quickly and easily revoke access without worrying about tracking down keys. It’s all possible with one of the best commercial access control systems like RemoteLock. 

Commercial buildings often need to accommodate vendors, too. These users need easy, approved access to make deliveries or perform valuable services. Downloading an app to gain access just won’t work for time-strapped vendors. Nor does tracking down a key from a manager or staff member. Plus, schedules change frequently, and vendors and their clients want to know that updates can be made on-the-spot and doors will open for that next load of produce or office supplies. RemoteLock, one of the best commercial access control systems on the market, can easily accommodate these demands. 

RemoteLock Software on Laptop Dashboard

Safety Is a Priority in the Best Commercial Access Control Systems

The useful data generated by the best commercial access control systems on the market strengthens security in commercial buildings. You can easily access this kind of data through reporting functions with just a few clicks. 

  • Access User Report: a list of users/guests who are active, upcoming, deactivated or expired
  • Event Reporting: access event with a timestamp, door at which event occurred, type of event and method of entry 
  • Device Report: battery power level, network status and serial number—all useful data for maintenance when troubleshooting devices
  • Admin Log: More in-depth report of events history and show details like who the administrator was and the action he/she performed

One Solution for Every Door

As one of the best commercial access control systems, RemoteLock is a complete solution designed to solve your access challenges. 

access control systems door 1
Singe or Double Pane Glass Doors

Whether single pane or double pane, glass doors are some of the most attractive—and tricky—door types. They are most often associated with exterior main entries, although it’s not uncommon to find single glass doors that experience less foot traffic.

access control systems door 2
Entrances With Intercoms

Secure main entrances, even glass doors. Outfit these with ButterflyMX, RemoteLock’s video-intercom partner. Residents, employees and vendors can easily and securely access your building’s front entrance and individual units from one mobile app.

access control systems door 3
Shared Common Doors

Easily manage access schedules to shared spaces such as conference, mail and mechanical rooms. Staff and tenants can access these areas according to the time frames you set using the same credential they use to access the front door and their unit doors.

access control systems door 4
Elevator & Parking Garages

Streamline access for tenants, staff, customers and vendors at every entry point on your property. You can even control which elevator floor users can access.

Remotelock Software for Commercial Access Systems

Web Based Access Control Systems Ensure Flexibility

No matter if you run multifamily or commercial properties or vacation rentals, you need flexibility to respond quickly to market changes and position your business for growth. Web based access control systems like RemoteLock have that flexibility built in. Your access is controlled via the cloud, allowing you to see all your property’s doors in real time and manage them from anywhere in a few clicks. What’s more, RemoteLock: 

  • Eliminates keys and all their hassles
  • Allows remote control of access from your laptop or smartphone, from anywhere
  • Offers visibility into access with a glance at dashboard or via handy reports
  • Allows for customized access schedules

Look for Automations in Web Based Access Control Systems

In addition to the benefits above, the best web based access control systems are designed with open APIs that allow integrations with other essential software. And that’s key if you’re looking to automate busy work that can drain time from your workday. 

For instance, RemoteLock integrates with popular booking platforms like Airbnb, so access codes are automatically sent to guests upon approved reservations. There’s no need for front desks for guest check-in, key handoffs or lockboxes. Instead, guests get secure, time-bound access PINs from RemoteLock and other web based access control systems

Web Based Access Control Systems

Another helpful integration: RemoteLock seamlessly integrates with popular property management software (PMS) used by multifamily property managers. These integrations ensure lease-related details from the PMS sync up automatically with RemoteLock. This means access codes are automatically created for a resident moving in and revoked when they move out. The same works for all the staff and vendors (painters, cleaners, maintenance) involved in turning over apartments. They automatically receive access codes to vacant units for the turn. Then access is automatically revoked when the work is done. Property managers and staff gain back hours in a workday previously spent handing off keys, replacing keys, tracking access, etc.  

One last example: With 44% of interactions around apartment leasing taking place outside of business hours, multifamily operators are now giving self touring serious consideration. Bonus: RemoteLock integrates with self-touring software to allow prospective residents to schedule a tour during a time that’s most convenient for them. Unique PINs are automatically sent to prospects and valid only within the windows you set. This integration not only saves time for busy property staff, but it also enhances safety. With web based access control systems, there are no keys to handoff or worry about falling into the wrong hands, and the door automatically locks behind the prospect. Plus, property managers can see a real-time access history. You can monitor and revoke access when needed, and gain full visibility into who entered which space when. 

Time to Add Modern Access Control to Your Property? 

In the IoT (Internet of Things) era, a modern access control system is a priority for your property, as well as a strategic business initiative. Your 21st century residents, guests, tenants, vendors and visitors expect it. Because many multifamily and commercial properties feature different types of doors, different types of lock hardware and different users with different access needs, it’s imperative to connect with an access control system expert like those at RemoteLock.

These pros in web based access control systems can show you how to make access easy, improve security, maximize efficiencies, reduce costs and bring transformative technology home to all your spaces.  

Request a Consult