How Does Biometric Access Control Work?

Access control prevents unwanted visitors from entering your premises. Biometric access control has grown in popularity over the last couple of years and we have been asked by many of our prospects and clients, “How does biometric access control work and what is it?”

Biometric access control represents a modern type of security technology that can present a series of benefits across multiple industries. Today, we’re going to explain how biometric access control works, and how useful it is for certain businesses.

But first, what is it?

Biometric Access Control Explained

Biometrics are the analysis of biological data using technology. Typically, this data relates to specific physical traits that an individual might have. So, biometric access control is the use of this biological data to either grant or deny access to a building or area of a building.

What biological data and physical traits are we talking about? More often than not, biometric access control looks at things that are unique to each individual. This includes fingerprints, retina scans, facial recognition, and/or voice. To understand what happens with this data, we need to take a more in-depth look at how these systems work.

How Do Biometric Access Control Systems Work?

A lot of science and technology are behind biometric access control and its functionality. The good news is that there’s a straightforward way of explaining things.

Essentially, biometric access control systems record biological data from human beings. They have scanners equipped to them, which collects all of this data. For example, there’s a fingerprint scanner that analyzes one of your fingerprints and keeps them in a data file. You then choose who you want to have access to whatever’s behind the access control system, and register their fingerprints.

Now, when you go to open the door, you scan your finger. The system analyzes the print and sees if it matches one in the database. If it does, then the access control opens up and lets you in. If there’s no match, then access is denied.

Of course, fingerprints are just one of many examples in biometric access control. However, they’re the most common form of biometrics as it’s easy and convenient to scan a print.

Retina scanning is also used, and this involves scanning the retinas in your eyes. Facial recognition has also started becoming more mainstream – largely thanks to the iPhone X, introducing it to the consumer market in 2018.

It doesn’t really matter what type of biometrics are being measured, the same concept always applies. Here’s an even more simplified summary of how things work:

  • Biometric access control analyzes specific biological data, e.g. fingerprints
  • A database is created containing all the biological data from people that are allowed access
  • Individuals are scanned when they use the access control system
  • If their biological data is on-record, they’re granted access
  • If there’s no match for their biological data, they’re denied access

What Are The Benefits Of Biometric Access Control?

In general, access control is a beneficial security measure. It adds an extra layer of protection that helps control who’s allowed where. But, biometric access control takes things to a whole new level of security.

The problem with normal access control – using keypads and passwords – is that codes can be guessed and keycards can be lost or stolen.

Also, after frequent use, the numbers on a keypad can appear slightly worn or faded, giving away which numbers make up the code. So, there’s a possibility – although slim – that someone without access can get hold of the code and gain access.

With biometric scanning, this is significantly harder. The only way someone can gain access is if they possess an exact replica of the biological data stored in the system.

You can’t mimic biological data nor can you take a lucky guess – you’d literally need someone who is in the system to be there to get through the access control.

Consequently, biometric access control is far more secure and much harder for someone to break into.

What Industries Can Benefit?

This type of access control has many uses across a plethora of industries. With that in mind, here are some industries where we believe this technology will be most beneficial:

Public Sector

Government is full of different sections and different people moving around all the time who have different clearances. What’s more, there’s so much private information in various government buildings. So, to keep things as secure as possible, they could benefit from biometric access control. It can close off sections of buildings and stop random people from bursting into government buildings and seeing private information.


The healthcare industry is also packed full of private and confidential information. Again, biometric scanning can be very handy here. It’s often used in hospitals to restrict access to data servers or filing rooms. But, it can also be used to gain access to more confined areas of hospitals – like wings with contagious patients.

General Businesses

This type of access control is also useful across the general business world. It can be used to protect office buildings – while doubling up as a new way for workers to clock in every morning.

Only your staff can have access to your office, and this prevents unwanted visitors. It can also help shut off private areas, like filing and documentation rooms.

Law Enforcement

Police stations, detention centers, and any other institutions like this can greatly benefit from biometric access control. A crucial aspect of law enforcement is ensuring the public’s safety. Access control does this by making sure only select people are allowed in and out of police stations, prisons, detention centers, etc.

It can prevent instances where someone tries to break into a prison to help a prisoner escape – or worse.

As you can see, biometric access control can be used in many different ways. Hopefully, this guide has taught you more about how this technology works and why it’s useful. If you’re looking for a way to enhance your security measures, then this might just be it.