Choosing the right gate access control and security systems for your properties

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What is gate access control?

Access control is for more than just commercial security doors. Security gates can be access controlled, too. Going beyond a simple opener device, access control systems for gates improve security by limiting who has authorized access to a driveway, community, commercial building complex, or campus. Installing access control for gate systems gives the right people the ability to unlock or lock the gate, while keeping unauthorized individuals out. 

Access control gates can be for both pedestrians and vehicles, and there are many different types available, both for residential and commercial applications. While it may seem like residential gate entry systems for single-family homes would suffice for offices or gated communities, commercial gate access control systems need to have additional features and security capabilities. With more people coming and going on these larger properties, it’s recommended to invest in an access control systems gate designed to handle heavy daily traffic. The gate security systems and physical mechanisms need to be durable, and the gate access controls need to be robust enough to keep the property secure, too.

How commercial gate access control works

The functionality for security gate entry systems is similar to most door access control systems. There are four main components of an access control system gate: an access reader, a gate access controller, credentials (also called tokens), and management software. When someone approaches the entry gate system, they present their credential to the reader. This information gets sent to electronically authenticate in a user database. If authorized, the gate access controller activates the lock or opening mechanism (usually a swing arm or motor). With a more advanced gate security system, any entry or unlock activity will be recorded in an audit log.

Openpath access control for gates 
  • Fast, reliable access with offline functionality

  • Supports all credential types, including mobile

  • Fully remote management from anywhere in the cloud 

  • Remote unlock and award-winning lockdown features

  • Add visual verification with video and intercom readers

  • Limitless integration potential with open architecture

  • Real-time reporting and automated alerts with video

  • Secure any number of doors, elevators, turnstiles, and gates

Which types of security gate systems for buildings are best?

Good security starts right at the gate. That’s why it’s key to understand the different types of building security gate systems, and how to choose the right gate access control for your property. Many traditional gated community entrances still lack the advanced security and conveniences of modern commercial gate access control. Access control for gates should be more robust than the garage openers used for single-family homes. Just like any button-activated garage or gate opener, many gate security system remotes simply work by being in the vicinity of the gate’s proximity reader, and do not hold any unique tokens or data to know who is requesting access. To offer the most secure gate entry system for tenants, visitors, and staff, choose one of these gate control systems instead. 

PIN and keypad gate access systems

With a keypad gate access reader, a user needs to type in a passcode or PIN to unlock the gate. Gate entry keypads are easy to use, and generally less expensive than other types of gated community gate systems. Visitors can easily type in a code, and delivery drivers can be given a unique code to use as well. But PIN readers have some drawbacks to be aware of. If the gate entry keypads use the same passcode for all tenants, this could pose a security risk. Plus, security teams won’t know which individual opened the gate if there’s an incident. Unique codes solve these issues, but makes the gate access controls more cumbersome to manage, especially for large communities with high tenant turnover. 

RFID gate systems

In this type of gate security system, the readers use credentials with embedded RFID tags to authenticate. RFID credentials range from key cards, to fobs, to mobile apps and devices, which are all convenient and easy to use. Key card gate access control is the most popular for commercial buildings, as the credentials are usually inexpensive and easy to replace. However, card access gates require every user to have their own credential, which can add costs over time, especially for buildings with shorter lease terms or organizations with fluctuating workforces. If the gates and doors in the property use different commercial security systems, tenants may need to carry multiple key cards and fobs to access all their permissioned entries.

Keep in mind, too, that guests will need to be given key cards in order to unlock the gate, or have staff onsite and available to let verified visitors and vendors inside. If you install an RFID gate access control system, make sure tenants and guests have a way to access the property if they forget their card or fob, too. This may require access control for gate entries to be remotely accessible by staff 24/7.

Cellular gate access control

Modern commercial and neighborhood gate systems can eliminate the need to pass out physical credentials by using the phones people already carry with them. While not as intuitive, learning how to open the gate with a phone is simple. Users simply download an app, and tap a button to unlock the gate. With advanced mobile gate access control systems like Openpath, users won’t even need to wake up the phone or open an app to be able to unlock the entry gate system – a simple wave of the hand or phone at the reader will suffice.

One advantage of mobile access control for gate operation is the ability to open gates remotely for visitors, without having to be within proximity of the gate. Mobile gate security systems are often more secure than card access gate systems, as people are less likely to lose or lend out their smartphones than a key card. 

Wired or wireless gate entry systems: which one is better?

In addition to the type of reader and credentials used, access control for gates can be either wired or wirelessly operated. In a wired system, the gate, reader, and gate access controller must have a physical wired connection. This can be costly and disruptive to install, especially when the gated community entrances are far from the buildings or security stations. Wired security gate systems can run on the local network, and use onsite servers for a stable connection.

A wireless gate access control system, on the other hand, can reduce the price of installing gate access controls and security systems. A remote controlled gate opening system won’t need to be wired all the way through the property, and can often be configured and activated from any web-connected device using a cloud-based management platform. However, it’s important to ensure wireless signals are reliable throughout the property so that readers don’t become disconnected from the gate access controllers.

Benefits of gate security systems

  • Limits access to authorized individuals. One of the biggest advantages to installing entry gate systems is that only the right people have access to the property. Tenants need to have an authorized, active credential to unlock the gate, and gate access controls like entry schedules and user permissions can further limit who has access, and when.

  • Prevents theft and vandalism. Outdoor gate access control is a deterrent for crime. Especially with advanced access control for gates that make it hard to share or duplicate access codes, gate security systems keep would-be criminals off the property altogether. Installing both entry and exit readers for gated parking systems can also deter tailgating incidents. 

  • 24/7 security. Even if your property doesn’t have front gate security staff, gate access control systems can provide much-needed security, especially after-hours. Leveraging tools like schedules and alerts can help security teams manage gate access without even being onsite. 

  • Visitor and delivery management. An access control system gate is used by more than just the regular tenants and employees of a building. Every property also needs to consider how visitors, vendors, and delivery couriers can get the access they need. Gate security systems that have digital guest passes and dedicated courier user profiles can help streamline this process.

Integrations to enhance a gate access control system integrations

While a gate security system is a smart investment for any commercial or residential property, it’s not the only component of a future-proof security strategy. With security gate access control built on open standards, property owners can integrate with other technologies to strengthen security posturing and make entry gate system management simpler. 

  • Video security. To further enhance security gate entry systems, install video cameras near the gate. Some gate access control readers, like the Openpath Video Reader Pro, have built-in cameras to capture real-time footage of entry activity. 

  • License plate recognition (LPR). Gate entry systems integrated with LPR cameras allow the gate access controller to unlock the gate by reading vehicle license plates, without having to scan a credential. 

  • Intercoms. For better visitor management and identity verification, integrate a gate intercom system that allows visitors to call tenants at the gate. Tenants can use the remote controlled gate opening system once they’ve verified the guest. The Openpath Video Intercom Reader Pro combines a camera intercom, and gate access controls in a single device for simple installation and use for gated community security.  

  • Emergency systems and sensors. During an emergency, access control gates with a lockdown feature could be activated and reverted remotely from a smartphone or computer. Additionally, sensors can be connected with gate access control systems to trigger alerts for specific events like gates forced open, jammed, or exceeding occupancy limits. 

  • Parking management. In commercial buildings, integrations like SKIDATA for parking management allow administrators to monitor activity from parking gate control systems, containerize garages and lots, and set permissions for specific user groups for enhanced gated community security.

  • Tenant and membership apps. Integrating community gate access with tenant apps can create a better experience for tenants by putting everything they need in one place. Within the app, a tenant can see open gates with their phone, as well as reserve community amenities, contact property managers, schedule maintenance, and more. 

  • Access control for other entry points. Streamline access across the entire property by installing gate entry systems that are compatible with any access-controlled doors, elevators, and turnstiles on the property. This eliminates the need to manage multiple credentials for the same individual, and makes it easier for tenants as they’ll only need one key for every door and gate.

Use cases for commercial security gate systems

Neighborhood gate systems

Gated communities are some of the most common applications for gate security systems. Many people choose these neighborhoods because they want the added safety gated community security gives them. With HOA gate systems, communities with multiple buildings and streets have added security and peace of mind. Gated community entry gate systems need to be reliable at all hours of the day and night. That’s why many properties opt for an RFID gate access control system, so that residents can easily scan in to enter the community without requiring interactions with onsite staff. 

Multi-family residential gate security entry management is equally important as residents move in and out of the community. Access should be easy to issue and revoke to ensure previous residents no longer have access, and that new community members can get in right away. Because visitors, deliveries, and maintenance calls are common in gated communities, front gate security access goes beyond the residents who live there. Residential gate entry systems should also have an option for residents to either remotely open the gates, or a method for sending a digital credential for temporary guest access. 

Apartment gate security solutions

Apartment buildings can also benefit from installing gate access control, especially as residents increasingly view security as an essential amenity. For apartment buildings with gyms, pools, and resident lounges, property managers may want to prevent non-residents from utilizing these amenities. Installing a gate access controller and reader system at the driveway or building entrance ensures that only residents with authorized credentials can enter the property. Gates for parking access control systems are also a smart way to prevent theft and damage to resident vehicles, especially in high-crime areas. 

With high turnover in multi-family rental properties, property managers often prefer a mobile-based apartment building security system that works with gates. Leveraging smartphones streamlines apartment gate security entry management by eliminating the need to issue key cards or fobs to each resident, as well as preventing residents from sharing their credentials with unauthorized guests. For the best security, pair the access control systems gate with video cameras to aid in any incident claims on the property.

School campuses 

Educational facilities present a unique security scenario. An access control gate at the facility entrance can help keep school grounds safe by only letting students, faculty, and approved visitors enter the premises. Front gate security acts as a checkpoint for visitors and vendors as well, allowing school security teams to check against watch lists and ensure visitors are approved prior to unlocking the gate. Setting gate access control system schedules, such as unlocking during school hours, and automatically locking on the evenings and weekends, adds further protection on campus without inhibiting learning. 

Another reason to consider upgrading gate control systems for schools is the ability to audit entry activity to know who is on campus in the event of an incident. During a natural disaster, having an easily accessible entry log that is integrated with the school security system helps facilitate quick emergency mustering to account for all individuals present. A remote controlled gate opening system also makes it easier for school security personnel to open gates for first responders.

Commercial office buildings 

Commercial gate access control systems can also be used for additional security in office buildings and complexes. Traditionally, most offices use some form of access control at the front door, or within the interior of the buildings. However, adding access controlled gates can help deter criminals or unwanted individuals, especially after hours or during holidays when offices are generally empty. Additionally, integrating parking solutions with gate access control systems can help property managers identify trends in office usage for improved space management and tenant retention. 

Considerations and best practices for installing commercial gate access control systems

An access control gate system can be a large investment, especially for properties with multiple entrance points to secure. Before installing a new access control system gate for a building, it’s important to consider the unique security challenges and use cases to ensure the best experience and ROI. 

  • Residential gate access control systems should be easy to use for both residents and guests. This includes installing the reader at a height and distance appropriate for vehicles, and an accessible location for pedestrians. This is especially crucial for gate entry keypads, where individuals need to be able to easily reach the buttons or see a screen.

  • Choose a gate entry system that can support multiple credential types, both now and in the future. Even if the majority of current tenants say they prefer key card gate access, future tenants may want to use their smartphones instead.  

  • In the event of a power or Internet outage, people still need to be able to access the property, and the access control for gate systems still needs to function. When hiring an installer, ask about backup power options for your gate access controller and readers. 

  • Gated community security systems with multiple gate entries should have a lockdown feature. With cloud-based management software, admins have the option to trigger and revert a lockdown for all gates from anywhere, at any time. 

  • Not all security gate systems are able to record detailed entry activity. Always choose access control for gate systems that give detailed activity logs for better auditing and emergency mustering capabilities.

  • Management software matters. A cloud-based platform allows for greater flexibility, with easy access to all data and gate access controls from anywhere in the world. Software for adjusting user permissions, setting gate access control schedules, and issuing or revoking access should be intuitive and effortless.