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Electronic card access can break down into a few different categories. Each is more secure than the last, but let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages each type of electronic card access brings to the table when securing your campus or facility:

Magnetic Stripe Cards

These are good for low level security. They can keep a building limited to a certain population that has the cards, but they’re easy to duplicate. There’s no way of controlling who lends them to who, or who makes copies. This does make them inexpensive to implement, but much of the control you’d like is better achieved through smart cards.

They’re also easily damaged by magnets and wear out quickly.

Proximity Cards

These won’t get worn quickly and are resistant to being damaged. Proximity cards can be general, like a magnetic stripe card, or they can carry more specific information like a smart card.

“Card” is also a loose term. A proximity reader can detect cards or fobs, so you have some flexibility in terms of what it is your personnel are carrying around with them.

Smart Cards

Smart cards carry a microprocessor. Of course, this means the system is slightly more expensive to implement, but the trade-offs can be worth it. The cards themselves are still easy to replace.

Smart cards can come in contact or proximity versions depending on your preference and needs. Because each one is unique, you can track use by personnel. You can even program access windows for personnel, giving open use for some while restricting use for others to times when you know they’ll be supervised.

If a card is lost or stolen, because it’s unique its access can be wiped or the system can be set to alert you if that card is ever used again. The replacement will also be unique, allowing your personnel to retain access without worrying about how or when that lost or stolen card will be used.

There are advantages to each of these systems, but the long-term costs for Smart Cards make these an ideal choice for most businesses going forward.