What are the governing standards for Access Control Systems?

Source: https://psialliance.org/

Safety and security are two objectives that are often compromised at the expense of each other. Codes and standards related to access control systems revolve around one main point: safeguard the safety of building occupants. This intersects with the main function of an access control system, which is to ensure that an area is secure. The governing standards identify the intersection points, and mandate the measures to be taken to avoid compromising safety of occupants over the intended security level.


IEC, the International Electro Technical Commission, is an international organization that publishes standards for electrical, electronic, and related technologies. The standard IEC60839-11 revision of 2013 identifies the minimum requirements for an access control system in terms of functionality, performance, and testing. It includes requirements for logging, identification and control of information. This standard has a great direct impact on the design of access control systems.

NFPA 101 and NFPA 72

NFPA 101 is the Life Safety code issued by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) in the United States. The code tackles occupancy features aimed to reduce the effects of fire and other hazards. It also defines the means of egress for both new and existing buildings which affects the access control design. On the other hand, NFPA 72 is the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code code issued by NFPA. It identifies the relation between the access control system and the fire alarm system which affects the access control design also.


The International Building Code (IBC) is developed by the International Code Council (ICC). Similar to NFPA 101, the code addresses health and safety issues; however it does that from the construction and design perspective. In reference to access control systems, the topics related to the occupancy levels and means of egress have the most impact on the design.


Similar to ONVIF, the Physical Security Interoperability Standards (PSIA) was founded in 2008 with the aim of providing interoperability between IP-based access control systems. Its main role is to promote and develop open specifications for video, storage, analytics, intrusion, and access control systems. This is extremely important especially in applications where there is integration between access control and other systems (e.g. IP video surveillance).

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