Access Control Terminology
To find out more information on the products shown to the left,
visit our Search Price List page.
A | B | C |
D | E | F |
G | H | I |
J | K | L |
M | N | O |
P | Q | R | S |
T | U | V |
W | X | Y
Access Card: A coded employee card, usually the size of a credit card, recognizable to the access control
system and read by a reader to allow access. It can be used for photo identification of the cardholder and for
other data collection purposes. Card technologies include magnetic strips, wiegand-effect, proximity
(active/passive), barium ferrite, and smart/intelligent cards.
Access Code: Any system or method which automatically controls the passage of people and vehicles into
or out of an area or structure.
Access Level: The door or combination of doors and/or barriers an individual is authorized to pass through.
Access Mask: Electronic alarm masking suppresses the annunciation of an alarm condition that would have
been reported in the “secure” mode of operation. Masking does not block the reporting ability of tamper or fault
conditions that may not be seen when alarm shunting is used.
Access Point: Each means of entry into a controlled security area, consisting of a card reader, monitor
switches and/or latches. Access points are wired to an access control panel.
Access Relay: An electrically operated switch that is activated when access is granted to unlock a door.
Annunciator: An audible and/or visual signalling device.
Anti-Passback (Anti-Tailgating): This feature protects against more than one person using the same card
or number. It defines each system card reader and card I.D. number as IN, OUT, or Other. Once a card is granted
access to and IN reader, it must be presented to an OUT reader before another IN reader access is granted. Cards
will continue to have access to all authorized OTHER readers.
Access Time: The period of time during which an access point is unlocked. (Also see shunt time).
Audit Trail: A listing created which may be created in real time which may be used to monitor the progress
of a person through protected areas.
Badge: To use a card key in a reader to gain access to protected areas; a card key itself, especially one
with a photo I.D.
Biometrics: Refers to readers that identify human attributes such as fingerprint, hand geometry, voice
recognition or retinal analysis.
Buffer Capacity: Refers to the amount of information the system can store, this may include the users,
time of day and specific door.
Coercivity: The property of a magnetic material, as on a magnetic stripe keys, which is a measure of the
coercive force. It is used when describing the strength of magnetic saturation when discussing magnetic stripe
Database: A collection of data used and produced by a computer program. The files created at the host of
the access control system forms its database.
Device Address: Value set on an access control device to determine its unique identity.
Distributed Intelligent Devices: Access control devices that make their own access decisions uploading
event messages periodically to the central processing unit for storage.
Door Open Time: The time allowed for a controlled door to remain open after a valid entry. At the expiration
of this time, the system records a transaction which may be defined as an alarm. If the alarm bypass relay is
used, it would also de-energize at the end of this time.
Egress: Exit, depart, leave (opposite of ingress).
Electric Door Strike: An electric door locking device, usually solenoid operated, that will unlock a door when
electric power is either applied, or removed, depending upon the configuration.
Electromagnetic: Pertaining to combined electric & magnetic fields associated with movements of electrons
Enclosure: A box or cabinet, usually constructed of metal, that houses system components, such as circuit
boards and other electronic and electrochemical controls and circuitry.
Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory (EPROM): A programmed memory (often in a chip) that can not
only be read, but can be repeatedly erased under high-intensity ultraviolet light and reprogrammed.
Executive Privilege: An option which allows a cardholder unlimited access to all operational access points.
Access may be without the system referring to any other access parameters, or there may be a PIN-code
requirement has been enabled.
Exit Switch: A push button, switch mat, proximity detector, or other device which starts a timer in the
reader interface electronics when someone is leaving through a controlled entry or exit. The timer bypass (shunts)
the door-open detector for a selected period of time.
Facility Code: A numeric code programmed into a cardreader and encoded on the access card/token which
is unique to the one card access systems facility. In a distributed or semi-distributed intelligent card reader
system, the facility code will allow access to cardholders with the proper facility code when communications are
lost with the CPU.
Fail Safe: On loss of power, access points will automatically unlock allowing free access, and signal the card
access system of a device malfunction or loss of power.
Fail - Secure: An electric lock that requires power to unlock. Also called fail-locked.
Fail-Unlocked: An electric lock that automatically unlocks with any power interruption. Also called
Global Linking: An input at one Access Control panel affecting the output at another.
Guard Tour: A defined route of a security guard.
History: A log of system activity that can be recalled by utilizing the report command. Most systems offer
a feature that notifies the console operator of the amount of available storage for history information preventing
information from being written over. The message will usually alert the operator to archive the information onto a
removable magnetic tape.
Ingress: Enter (opposite of Egress).
Key Switch: A switch which must be operated with a key.
Keypad: A flat device which has buttons that may be pressed in a sequence to send data to a controller,
and which differs (said to be “non-QUERTY”) from a typewriter-like computer board.
LCD: An acronym for Liquid Crystal Display.
LED: An acronym for Light-Emitting Diode.
Load: Any device that converts the computer system’s digital information into analog information and
transmits it over a telephone line. Another modem must be used when the information back from analog to digital.
Magnetic Stripe: A band of ferrous material that is sealed onto or into a card key or credit card.
Modem: Device that converts the computer system’s digital information into analog information and
transmits it over a telephone line. Another modem must be used when the information is received to convert the
information back from analog to digital.
Momentary Switch: A switch that, after being activated, automatically returns to its original position; a
spring-loaded contact that, when pressed, closes two contacts, and when pressure is removed, opens the contact.
Output Relays: The auxiliary relays found in access control panels or NODES that control external
Panic Bar: A device, usually a small electrical switch in a mounting plate, used for unlocking a door in a
Parking Gate: A barrier that can be opened or closed to control vehicular access
Passive Infrared (PIR) Detector: A sensor which detects the changes in the infrared light radiating from.
Reader: Refers to the “front end” that a user must interact with to allow access. Readers can be keypads,
card readers, proximity readers.
Shunt: To bypass. When an alarm is bypassed so that it doesn’t activate, it is said to be shunted.
Shunt Time: The time in seconds that a door-open alarm is suppressed after the door has been opened.
Standalone: An access control system that makes its own access decisions without communicating with a
Strike: A plate mortised into or mounted on the door jamb to accept and restrain a bolt when the door is
closed. In some metal installations or with a deadlock, the strike may simply be an opening cut into the jamb.
Strike Plate: A plate, usually of metal, mortised into or mounted on the door jamb to accept and restrain a
bolt when the door is closed.
Transient Suppressor: A device that protects data lines from high transient such as lighting and inductive
loads. They are recommended where there are data communications lines between the reader and its electronics
which are subject to high-transient situations. Two are required: one at each end of the exposed communications
Twisted Pair: A cable composed of two small substantially insulated conductors, twisted together with or
without a common covering. Bleden 8720 cable, for instance, contains two twisted shielded pairs of stranded
Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL): An independent, not-for-profit organization which tests products in
the interests of public safety.
Wiegand Card Key A plastic card, approximately the shape of a credit card, which has an embedded module
of inert, specially treated ferromagnetic wires which generate a voltage pulse that can be sensed by a coil within
the card reader.