The Best Access Control Systems (2021)

Review and compare the best access control system brands on the market to find the right solution for your building.

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Review and compare the best access control systems on the market for 2021 as told by top security and access professionals.

Each review includes:

  • Pricing estimates
  • Hardware requirements
  • Key features

While comparing the best solutions, reference the Guide to Access Control Systems for a complete overview of access security.

Best Access Control Systems

The past decade has been a strong host for innovation in the access control space. Typically, access control has been a slow moving industry, but there has been a huge shift due to clear customer demand and need for better access control experiences. Though the industry was moving in this direction, touchless access control has become a new requirement post COVID-19, such has the majority of other devices whenever possible. Physical security systems that prioritize health while maintaining an advanced level of security will foreshadow the future of access control and industry resilience.

With knowledge of the expedited shift that the industry has undergone in 2020, it’s important to explore the market and what is being offered in terms of features and services. This affirms the direction the security industry is taking and helps to prepare for the future with a resilient solution. 

Swiftlane

Swiftlane is a dynamic Cloud-Based Access Control system that integrates mobile unlock, face recognition, video intercom and visitor management for a secure, touchless access control experience. The SwiftReader is a compact solution used to secure any building, from small office spaces to high-rise residential buildings. 

Touchless Access Control: Swiftlane provides touchless entry to doors using it’s face recognition and mobile access technology. A person can just walk up the door, look at the reader and the door unlocks. 

Remote Management: Swiftlane’s cloud based access control is built to be managed from anywhere. The system is built to provide instant ability to add or revoke access, and connect with other systems like HR, employee identify and login providers, to automate the process of adding or removing users. This allows higher security and leaked access to people. 

Integrated Video Intercom: Most access control systems require installing and managing a separate intercom system for handling guests, which results in higher installation, training and operational costs. Swiftlane provides a visitor management intercom system built in with it’s modern offering. 

Swiftlane Access Control Features 

  • Modern, easy access management
  • Touchless access options with mobile app and face recognition access control
  • Provides better future proof investment in access control
  • Ranked best new access control system by SIA in 2020
  • Cloud-based dashboard for high discretion for end user 
  • Centralized building management system
  • Two-way video or audio calling with remote unlock capabilities
  • COVID safety toolkit with Swiftlane Health Check feature

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ADT

ADT is best-known for home security solutions, but their access control system, which is marketed by ADT Commercial, can fulfill basic security needs for small scale operations.

ADT Access Control Features

  • Sensor-based central station monitoring 
  • Manned alarm monitoring and emergency response services
  • Remote capabilities include lock/unlock, video monitoring, password management and system arm/disarm. 

The Swiftlane Difference

Swiftlane’s mobile and biometric access credentials surpass the standard security parameters by operating from the cloud. Swiftlane Access Control plays a preventative role in security, as opposed to a reactive approach based in emergency response services. Additionally, our cloud-based platform allows admins to easily manage users from the dashboard instead of having to navigate through the vendor. 

Read the full ADT Access Control review for more information on the best access control systems.


Alcatraz AI

Alcatraz is a face reader that can sit alongside a proximity reader to provide additional face recognition access. It requires setting up an access control system and overlaying the Alcatraz hardware onto it. Alcatraz AI’s face identification is based on deep neural networks that train automatically on badges and switch to facial authentication when ready. The “Rock,” Alcatraz AI’s artificial intelligence based face authentication system, contains a PoE camera, a built-in GPU and badge reader. It can be installed at the entry and connects with automatic door locks like a reader.

Alcatraz AI Access Control Features

  • Video output to a visitor management system via local network or cloud
  • Tailgating detection and email alert (additional license required)
  • Current badge enrollment 

The Swiftlane Difference

Swiftlane’s all-in-one biometric access control system hosts proprietary face recognition software, two-factor authentication access control and visitor management, while Alcatraz AI requires both a separate access control and video intercom system with Alcatraz integration compatibility. Swiftlane Face Recognition Access Control also offers mobile capabilities as an alternative or supplement to facial recognition. 

Read the full Alcatraz AI review for more information on the best access control systems.


Brivo

Brivo OnAir, the company’s latest access control system, is a mobile- and browser-based system that comes with the convenience and cost-effectiveness of a modern cloud-based solution. Brivo Onair allows users to control access and monitor the building using a single integrated platform. Managers can allow or revoke authorization, create schedules, monitor real-time or recorded video footage, and view reports through the Brivo Mobile Pass App or a browser based dashboard. 

Brivo OnAir Access Control Features 

  • Mobile and Siri voice command door unlock
  • Eagle Eye Video Surveillance integration allows user to view live or recorded footage through the app or browser
  • Facility safety features for contact tracing, personnel controls and health checks
  • Remote management permissions
  • Automate and facilitate visitor access

The Swiftlane Difference 

Brivo is built on OEM hardware which relies on HID’s mobile unlock. Swiftlane, by contrast, operates on proprietary hardware which includes all-in-one access control and built-in video intercom. Swiftlane credentials also support all door controllers, and vice versa.

Read the full Brivo Access Control review for more information on the best access control systems.


Genetec

Genetec offers cloud-based software that works with a wide range of industry-leading access control and monitoring hardware including readers, controllers, electronic locks and IP cameras. Genetec Synergis is an IP-based system in which security is provided by recognizing devices based on their IP address. 

Genetec Synergis Access Control Features

  • IP security system integration for real-time and event-driven video monitoring
  • Global cardholder management 
  • Unified intrusion monitoring, video surveillance and access control through Synergis IX
  • Real-time event and custom reporting
  • Individual and group tracking via employee photos

The Swiftlane Difference

Swiftlane Cloud-Based Access Control provides top notch security that is cost-effective and intuitive for a business of any size and need. Large scale configuration and expensive hardware do not stand in the way of a high quality building security access control system. 

Read the full Genetec Synergis Access Control review for more information on the best access control systems.


ISONAS

Founded in 1999, ISONAS is the first company to design and manufacture a convenient IP to door access control solution. The Company’s combo Reader-Controller eliminates the need to connect each door to both a reader and a controller or a system hub. ISONAS also manufactures IP bridges, proximity badges and fobs, weatherproofing kits, cables and connectors. The Reader-Controller combo installs on existing Cat-5 networks, so you can automate any door without laying down unnecessary cables.

ISONAS Access Control Features

  • ISONAS Pure Access software offers on-premise or cloud-based access control 
  • Reader-Controllers and readers for card, badge, FOB and PIN-based entry
  • Mobile credentials and proximity unlock
  • Legacy system integration and third-party video management integration

The Swiftlane Difference

Swiftlane Access Control uses a separate controller to operate doors which bypasses risk of tampering that combo readers are so commonly susceptible to. A single, state-of-the-art Access Point offers mobile, face recognition and/or video intercom credentials to users. While Swiftlane offers the option for integration, it is not necessary with the all-in-one solution. 

Read the full ISONAS Access Control review for more information on the best access control systems.


Openpath

Openpath is a provider of key card and mobile access control systems. Openpath’s proprietary system provides access control panels and readers, as well as mobile apps for accessing buildings.

Openpath Access Control Features

  • Touchless, wave to unlock access technology
  • Visitor management integration
  • Remote door unlock via the mobile app
  • Mobile unlock via bluetooth low energy, or cellular and WiFi
  • Cloud-based system

The Swiftlane Difference

Swiftlane Mobile Access Control takes proactive measures to overcome the potential challenges posed by mobile access credentials. The Swiftlane app only reads user location when the app is open; does not require turning off battery optimization functions, which avoids battery drain; and requires the user to press a button on the app, showing clear intent that an authorized user is accessing the door. Swiftlane Video Intercom comes integrated into the access control system for an all-in-one, built-in visitor management system.

Read the full Openpath Access Control review for more information on the best access control systems.


S2

S2 is among the pioneers of web-based physical access control and security systems. Today, Lenel S2 positions itself as a unified security platform comprising access control, video surveillance, video security, and more. 

S2 Access Control Features

  • Unified security solution through S2 NetBox
  • Supports legacy access control methods and many different integrations
  • Video monitoring
  • S2 Magic Monitor is a unified display interface that joins access control, video surveillance, live internet feeds, security events and alarms, credentials and access level management
  • Mobile video management 

The Swiftlane Difference

Swiftlane is a cloud-based Access Control system that operates without the need for an on-site server, which requires heavy operational overhead. The cloud-based system allows you to manage users through identity providers without integration, as well as perform functions remotely. Swiftlane Mobile Access Control eliminates the need for key cards, which are a security risk and an operational burden. 

Read the full S2 Access Control review for more information on the best access control systems.


Tyco Software House

Software House’s C-CURE is one of the industry’s most comprehensive access control and security platforms. It is used by more than 170 of the Fortune 500 companies to manage access control as well as many other mainstream security systems such as video surveillance, intrusion and fire alarms, visitor management, and more. C-CURE 9000, the latest version of Software House’s access control and event management solution, can integrate with over 300 third-party business and security technologies.

Tyco Software House Access Control Features

  • Unified card management and centralized management of key cards and badges
  • C-CURE Go is a fully-featured access control app for iOS and Android devices, which works with the Go Reader (see the latest version, C-CURE 9000 Version 2.90, for a full list of features)

The Swiftlane Difference

Swiftlane’s cloud-based Access Control system puts control back in the hands of the user by allowing admins to manage permissions and credentials. As such, by operating from the cloud instead of a network, Swiftlane has eliminated the subsequent operational burden, such as an in-person management team, on-site software updates, maintenance, training, etc. Long installs and restrictive hardware have become a deterrent for the modern user. The Swiftlane difference strives to provide a modern, high-end experience that goes hand-in-hand with the most secure technology available. 

Read the full Tyco Software House Access Control review for more information on the best access control systems.


Access Control System Buyer Considerations

Access control systems are important to any building’s security. As demonstrated in our best access control system reviews, there is a lot to consider when looking to build a better facility by upgrading or implementing an access control strategy.

Each business is different so identify your business needs and make sure they match with an access control company that will help you achieve them. Below, we have compiled the key features to consider when buying an access control system.

1. Connectivity: Wired or Wireless Access Control?

Wired access control systems typically have less issues with connectivity. Wireless access control systems have their own set of benefits, however testing connectivity and outside interference before rolling out the system is critical. 

2. Updates: On-Premise or Cloud-Based Access Control Software?

Cloud-based access control systems are the easiest way to stay on top of system updates, as they happen automatically. Be aware of the business requirements for system and software updates. 

3. Audit Trails: Proactivity with Access Control Policy

Proactive audit management should be an element of any security operation. Access control systems should be prepared to shift with the regulatory landscape and be prepared to tackle a higher level of scrutiny as it pertains to compliance.

4. Access Restrictions: Who Has Access and When?

Access restrictions can refer to a certain time or date that the user does not want to admit access or withdrawing access from a user. What are the business needs for these functions and how frequently is it anticipated they will be needed? 

5. Intuitive User Experience

An ideal access control system should be intuitive in nature. It should not require extensive training for staff and little to not training for admin users. To that effect, administrators will also want to look at capability for quick and easy user enrollment. 

6. Scalability: Multiple or Single Door Access Control?

If you are planning to expand your reach or already have a large scale operation that requires an access control system, making sure that system is equipped to handle those demands is an important consideration. A single door access control system still has the potential to be scalable if there are multiple property locations. Should this be the case, the user needs to determine if multiple locations can be managed easily under the platform. 

7. Support: Who Do I Call?

Assess the technical support that you anticipate you’ll need. Ideally, a good access control system operation should not require the user to seek much technical support. However, if the system isn’t as intuitive or the user is not tech savvy in nature, for example, support from the access control company should be a consideration. Some access control companies contract with third party vendors and may not be available for direct contact if support is necessary. 

8. Pricing: Weighing Access Control Cost

Installation, hardware, number of access points and software are all elements that factor into an access control’s pricing. As such, the cost of an access control system varies greatly; there is no singular definitive price. However, most companies will offer a free quote.

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