Most gate entry systems used in today’s world come with electronic security features that seek to simplify access and enhance security. However, these access solutions vary widely in terms of how effectively they are able to keep a facility safe. Some solutions can also offer improved convenience for residents, guests, and property managers. Consequently, when purchasing a gate entry system, buyers need to carefully consider the solution’s impact on convenience, security, and management overhead.
Clickers are one of the most basic electronic entry systems available. Generally, these solutions are similar to garage door openers. In fact, some clickers used for single-family residences can open both a driveway gate and a garage door.
Clickers rely on either invisible infrared light or a low-range radio transmitter that sends a unique code to a receiver box. Clickers have been in use as gate entry solutions since the late 1980s, and they became popular in the 2000s.
Unfortunately, there are serious problems associated with using clickers. These products rely on standalone battery-powered devices that people have to bring with them. If a resident forgets their clicker at home, they cannot open their gate without the assistance of another person who also has a clicker. Many clickers are so large that they cannot be placed in a person’s pocket, so they are commonly attached to the sun visor on the interior ceiling of a resident’s vehicle. As a result, these products are unsightly, and they are clumsy for people who rely on multiple vehicles or ride-sharing apps to get around.
The batteries in clickers can die at any moment. When batteries die, residents are surprised to discover they cannot get past their security gate. Also, clickers usually have to be reprogrammed when batteries die, so property managers end up wasting valuable time on a daily basis to reprogram these devices and dealing with furious residents.
Worst of all, clickers are also highly insecure. Any criminal with internet access can easily learn how to intercept the code used by a clicker system. Nearly all clicker-based systems do not log access by giving unique codes to every resident, so there is no way of determining who is responsible when incidents occur. Overall, clickers are a bad solution that should be avoided.
License Plate Readers
License plate readers are better than clickers because they are able to log access and restrict entry for certain vehicles. In theory, license plate readers should also be able to provide more convenience for residents by automatically opening gates when residents arrive. Since license plate readers rely on high-resolution cameras, they also help to improve monitoring at points of access.
The problem with license plate readers is that they are easily tricked with a wide range of solutions that can be found online. Most systems can be easily defeated by using “trick plates” that have the same number as a valid vehicle in a community. Smarter license plate readers can detect the color and model of entering vehicles in an attempt to improve security, but these solutions are easily circumvented by motivated criminals that use a similar vehicle.
RFID Proximity FOBs
RFID proximity FOBs aim to improve security and convenience by using unique RFID chips to control a gate entry system. Unlike with license plate readers and clickers, criminals cannot use simple methods to overcome RFID-based solutions. Unless a criminal uses extremely sophisticated methods, they must physically have a valid RFID key in their possession to get through a property’s gate.
Consequently, communities that rely on RFID technology for gate entry never have to worry about criminals gaining unauthorized access. Criminals can only get in when keys get lost or stolen, but community managers can easily deactivate stolen cards.
Nevertheless, there are problems with RFID-based solutions. Since every RFID chip is unique in most systems, community managers usually have to physically bring new FOBs to the access gate to program it properly. If community members lose their FOB, replacement is expensive and takes a significant amount of time. Some communities also experience problems with gates failing to open.
Fingerprint readers use highly secure biometric data to control access. When people can enter a facility by simply using their fingerprint, they can do away with using a key altogether. As a result, fingerprint readers offer one of the strongest levels of security while also being highly convenient for guests.
Overall, fingerprint readers a good solution, but they are not perfect. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are increasingly wary of using shared fingerprint readers that have the potential to act as points of transmission for viruses.
Additionally, most electronic gates are accessed from vehicles exclusively. Fingerprint readers, therefore, can be a major source of inconvenience for residents. Most people are afraid to drive their cars too close to an object, so they usually have to stretch to reach a fingerprint scanner. People who have larger vehicles may even have to exit their vehicle to reach the fingerprint scanner.
Smartphones are highly secure devices that most people carry wherever they go. Consequently, smartphones are ideal for opening gates because they can use validation technologies that are similar to what credit cards use to complete secure transactions. Smartphone-based solutions can be easily installed by using an app, and they can work on multiple devices.
When new residents move in, smartphone-based solutions make it easy for guests to gain access. In fact, some leading providers of smartphone-based solutions, such as Nimbio, offer ways for property managers and residents to share access by simply sending out a link.
As technology continues to get more advanced, smartphone-based gate access solutions will continue to become more effective. Future technologies will soon enable delivery drivers, law enforcement, and autonomous vehicles to get past gates without any interaction. The bottom line is that gate access system buyers should look for solutions that make full use of smartphones to maximize security and convenience while taking advantage of the latest technologies.