Parking Access Control and Security Systems

Do I need access control for my parking lots and garages? The short answer: yes. All parking lots should have some type of access control and parking management to ensure safety and security. With so many different types of parking lot entry and exit control systems available to businesses, it can be hard to determine which type of gate security system is the best fit for your specific needs. This guide will cover the best practices for parking lot gate control systems, and break down the newest vehicle access control technology to help you make an informed decision about your parking lot security.

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Common security threats for parking lots

Parking lots and garages are often targets for crime and security incidents, especially after-hours. Without the right security in place, your parking lot could be vulnerable to these common threats. Adding a parking lot access control system to your physical barriers is a great way to deter criminal activity in lots and garages. Some of the most common security threats can be prevented by combining a strong physical barrier such as a gate security system, and requiring authorized credentials to access the lot. 

  • Tailgating (more than one car entering per credential)

  • Vehicle damage

  • Car and automobile theft 

  • Vandalism and property damage

  • Violence and assault

As part of a complete physical security strategy, parking lot entry and exit control systems help keep properties safer and more secure.

How do parking access control systems work? 

Parking control systems work by preventing unauthorized individuals or vehicles from entering a lot. Depending on the type of facility or space, the parking lot access control system may have different features and functionality. But most have two main components: a parking gate, and an access control reader. When a credential is presented to a reader, parking lot gate control systems send the data through a control panel to authorize the credential. The control panel then communicates to the parking gate security system, which triggers an unlock and the gate opens.

There are a few different types of vehicle access control gates to choose from. For open parking lots, a more substantial gate security system and fence may be needed to prevent people from walking around or under the gate. This type of parking lot system is more common for high-security facilities and commercial offices. Many garage access control systems use a rolling or vertical gate for parking access control. This type of garage security system gate is very common in multi-family residential buildings that have a controlled parking garage for residents. For a large public garage or parking lot, however, you’re more likely to encounter parking lot entry and exit control systems paired with a straight or folding parking gate arm. These are less substantial, but open and close faster to keep traffic flowing through the garage security system.

Smarter access control for parking lots

Facilitate frictionless parking lot entry and exit with Openpath access control. A unified mobile credential enables touchless Wave to Unlock for every entry throughout your organization, including parking lots, doors, turnstiles, and elevators.

Parking control systems technology guide

The right technology for parking access control can have a huge impact on the security, ease of use, and ROI of your commercial security system. Vehicle access and gate control systems are often a large investment for commercial properties. Technology that is flexible and future-proof can reduce the burden on property owners, and make managing multiple parking access control systems at any number of locations easier. Take a look at the latest vehicle access control technology offers from the perspective of cost, time management, and security. 

PIN pad readers for parking access control

A popular option for commercial parking lot and garage security systems, PIN readers require a user to input a passcode in order to open the parking gate. While cost-effective to install, PIN readers are not as secure or convenient as newer types of technology. For example, a shared vehicle access control PIN code is easily compromised if one person tells the code to a visitor or guest. Users are also likely to forget the code and get locked out, putting additional burden on building management teams and causing backups at the parking gate. A garage access control system that supports different PIN codes for different users may result in less code-sharing, but will be more work to manage and track everyone’s codes. Plus, typing in a code every time you need to enter or exit the parking lot is time consuming, and not ideal if there are a lot of people needing access at the same time. In addition, a keypad gate security system requires more maintenance, and will encounter more wear-and-tear over time.

Fob and key card parking lot systems

Parking management solutions are vital to keeping your premises secure, and card-based entry systems are very popular. RFID key card and fob readers for parking lots are often less expensive up front, and are simple to use, so they require little training. Scanning a key card at the gate security system takes only a few seconds, so for parking lots with heavy traffic, this is a good way to prevent traffic jams at the parking lot entry and exit control systems.

There are some disadvantages to a key card gate control system. This type of parking lot system can be expensive and time-consuming to manage. Every user needs their own physical key card credential. Issuing and managing parking access control key cards can be time consuming and cumbersome, especially for larger organizations. Even worse, because criminals can copy key cards and employees often share key cards with each other, these gate security systems are not always the safest.

Mobile parking lot entry and exit control systems

Instead of a key card or fob, newer parking access control systems use mobile or smartphone-based credentials. With a mobile system, people have one less thing to carry around; their smartphone gets them in. The added benefit of a mobile access control system is that you can use the same credential across every entry: doors, parking lots, turnstiles, and elevators.

Many mobile-based parking access systems are also touchless. Rather than having to enter a PIN on a common reader, or touch a button to activate the gate, Openpath’s mobile parking access control system uses contactless Wave to Unlock. This unique feature lets users leave their phone in the pocket or bag, and simply wave their hand at the parking lot reader to unlock the gate security system. It’s much more convenient, and adds peace of mind.

Cloud-based parking management technology

For the best security, parking lot entry and exit control systems should give managers real-time access to parking access control data from anywhere. That’s where the cloud comes in. Cloud-based vehicle access control management systems track entries and exits as they occur, with detailed activity logs for better auditing and reporting.

Cloud-based parking management technology also increases flexibility and efficiency. Property managers have the ability to add or revoke user access to the gate security system instantly, and adjust access permissions for parking control systems on the fly. This is especially helpful for organizations with multiple sites, to give employees the access they need if they travel between locations. Cloud-based software is also easier to integrate with other parking management and building systems. Fully integrated systems offer a more complete view of access, security, and usage across the entire organization, influencing important decisions for streamlining operations.

License plate recognition cameras 

One of the most-wanted technology components for parking lot access control is license plate recognition (LPR). Parking control systems with LPR cameras installed allow you to automate entry for registered vehicles only. License plate recognition integrated with parking access control systems can also be used as a form of multi-factor authentication, without inconveniencing drivers. Many commercial lots and retail parking garage access control systems now use LPR to track entry and exit time, which is especially useful for determining payments and individual usage.

Occupancy tracking and management

Parking lot gate control systems can also be used to limit the number of vehicles that can access the lot. Whether for social distancing, or for general crowd control, property managers can track and count vehicles as they enter and exit in real time, and set limits for the gate security system. Occupancy data is useful for tracking and managing parking capacity, and noticing trends in usage to inform better parking access control management processes in the future.

Use cases for parking access control systems

Beyond just letting people unlock and open the gate, parking control systems help improve the overall safety and security of your facility. For more efficient parking management, take advantage of these features and use cases for your parking lot gate control systems.

Prevent parking lot tailgaters

Tailgating is a common problem in parking lots: people wait for an authorized vehicle to unlock the gate security system, and then enter right behind them without scanning another credential. Parking lot access control systems are a great way to prevent tailgating. Openpath supports anti-passback, a feature commonly used with parking structures and garage security systems. Anti-passback means administrators can define in/out parking gates that force users to exit before they can enter again. This helps prevent users from sharing credentials, as well as ensures a set flow of traffic.

Containerize your parking lot 

Have specific parking spots for visitors? Want to turn one level of your parking lot into exclusive event parking? Need to reserve sections for specific tenants? Parking access control systems are a great way to designate zones of your parking lot for specific uses. By setting the access permissions for each gated zone in your parking control system, property managers can continerize their parking lots to maximize the ROI of their lot. This is also a useful feature for a garage security system with multiple entrances, to differentiate between monthly parking users and visitors.

Have eyes on every access event 

With Openpath parking lot access control systems that have video built into the reader, administrators can view live and recorded footage of every vehicle access event. In addition, integrating video surveillance with parking lot access control allows for visual verification of activity throughout the lot or garage, deters criminal activity, and improves safety overall.

Visitor management

Give your visitors instant and easy access to your parking lot and buildings. A visitor management system with digital guest pass capabilities allows property managers and administrators to issue a temporary QR code visitors can scan for convenient entry and exit in the garage security system. Plus, cloud-based parking control systems have real-time tracking, so you can see when guests arrive, which entries they access, and when they leave the facility. This makes for a better visitor experience, too. 

Track and manage parking revenue

When it comes to permitting and billing for parking, a parking access revenue control system (PARCS) is essential for compliance and auditability. To streamline payment management and track parking revenue, organizations can take advantage of fully integrated PARCS. By associating parking access control entry and exit times with permits, ticket dispensers, and billing software, parking access revenue control systems can determine the right fees to charge for parking, who to bill, and automate the fee collection process. Plus, with real-time data and detailed reporting through the parking control systems, managers can easily track parking revenues over time, identify non-compliant vehicles, and audit the parking access revenue control system at any given time.

Parking lot design and layout considerations

Parking lot layout design is key to maximizing the efficiency and safety of your facility. Before installing vehicle access control systems, audit your parking lot or garage for the following parking lot design best practices:

  • Ensure your parking lot has enough space to accommodate the expected number of vehicles on a daily basis. Some industries have set standards for parking lot layout design, so check your local guidelines. 

  • Select the parking lot angles that best suit your needs. Don’t forget about disabled parking spots, parking spots for electric or green vehicles, and visitor parking areas.

  • Consider the types of vehicles entering and exiting. Many commercial buildings need to have space for large trucks, loading docks, or busses, which require a larger gate area than a typical car. 

  • Choose the right type of parking gate security system for your facility and security needs. For example, swing gates take up more space to open and close, and remain open to possible intruders longer than vertical lift gates. Parking control systems with arms are easy for pedestrians to walk around, but allow for better traffic flow. Your parking lot layout design should include the necessary space for the gate you need, and address the security requirements of the lot.

  • Install a parking lot access control system that’s easy to use and operate. A small office building with 20-30 employees will have different parking access control needs than a large shopping mall. The parking access control system should maintain the security and safety of the lot, without obstructing the flow of cars in and out of the facility.

  • Ensure the lot has the appropriate signage and painted markings to guide cars throughout the lot and prevent traffic jams or confusion. Good signage is especially important for designating separate parking areas for visitors and reserved parking spots.

  • Keep your facility safe with the proper parking lot design standards for lighting, drainage, and ventilation.

Integrating your access control with parking security

For a more efficient organization, automations and system integrations are key. Openpath’s readers seamlessly integrate with your property’s existing parking garage security system for a more frictionless parking lot entry and exit control system. Take advantage of out-of-the-box integrations with popular parking gate security systems including SKIDATA to facilitate unified parking access control for your entire organization.

Parking control systems integrations also increase the ROI of your system. For example, you can eliminate the need for ticket validation with tracked entry and exit through the parking access control system. Reduce parking expenses and reimbursements over time with heightened viability into visitation patterns, custom scheduling, and granular access permissions.

Integrations with parking video surveillance and license plate recognition cameras, garage elevators, alarms, and building management systems lay the foundation for smarter automations, streamlining operations and creating more scalable solutions with less oversight. 

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