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Access Control for Parking: Best Practices and Systems

Elliot Blackler August 24, 2023 5 min read

Parking areas, often considered as mere extensions of the premises they serve, are more than just spaces for vehicles. They are critical zones that require security and efficient management.

Yet, these areas are often overlooked when it comes to implementing robust security measures, leaving them vulnerable to unauthorised access and criminal activity.

This article aims to serve as a comprehensive guide for security installers looking to explore the complexities and possibilities that parking access control systems offer.

To sum up, this article will cover: 

  • Why parking access control is necessary 
  • How parking access control systems work 
  • The core components and different types of access control 
  • The benefits and use cases for access control
  • What to be aware of when putting together a parking access control system

So, sit back as we go through every nuance, from the technologies at play to the myriad applications that could benefit from these systems.

Why Parking Access Control is Essential

Vehicle-related crimes such as car thefts and break-ins are not uncommon. The FBI reported that 721,885 motor vehicles were stolen in the United States in 2019, a 2.0% increase from the previous year.

Unauthorised parking, too, can be a significant issue, contributing to inefficiencies, hindering emergency services, and causing revenue losses in paid-parking scenarios.

The effective solution to mitigate these challenges lies in implementing a comprehensive control system.

These systems not only help in securing the parking area but also contribute to efficient vehicle movement, thereby increasing both security and operational efficiency.

How Parking Access Control Systems Work

At its most basic, parking access control is a specialised form of physical security aimed at regulating who can enter and exit parking areas. Although the principle is straightforward, the execution can be complex, entailing various technologies and layers of security measures. 

The Core Components of Access Control

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers, often the most visible component of an access control system, serve as the first line of defence. They are the gates, bollards, and turnstiles that physically prevent unauthorised vehicles from entering or leaving a parking area. 

Electronic Systems

Here, we're talking about the "brains" of the operation. These are the access controllers, access control software, card readers, RFID scanners, keypad access systems, and remote controls that interact directly with the physical barriers to grant or restrict access.

Surveillance Cameras

Surveillance cameras offer an additional layer of security. They are not just about recording activity but can be integrated with advanced systems to provide real-time alerts for suspicious activities, thus allowing for immediate action.

Types of Access Control Systems

Manual Systems

The oldest and simplest form is the manual system where a human operator, usually a security guard, is responsible for admitting vehicles. While this can be effective, it's also labor-intensive and prone to human error.

Automated Systems

Technology-driven solutions are where things get interesting. Here are some of the most common types:


  • Keypad Systems: A Simple and cost-effective solution requiring a pin code for access. 
  • Swipe Cards: A magnetic card, when swiped through a reader, transmits information to grant or deny access. 
  • ANPR Systems: Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) uses optical character recognition to read license plates of vehicles. 

The Process Flow of a Typical Parking Access Control

Imagine you are driving up to a parking area equipped with an advanced access control system. Here's how it would typically work:

1. Vehicle Arrival: As you approach, a sensor triggers the system, alerting it to your presence.
2. Credential Verification: If it's an ANPR system, your license plate is scanned; for card systems, you swipe your card, or for a keypad, you enter a code.
3. Access Granted: Once verified, the system sends a signal to the physical barrier, which then opens to allow your entry.
4. Entry and Parking: You drive in and park your vehicle.
5. Exit: To leave, you'd repeat a similar process, and upon verification, the exit barrier would lift, allowing you to leave.


Benefits of Parking Access Control

These systems aren't just about keeping unauthorised vehicles out; they offer several advantages that could benefit any organisation, regardless of size or type.

Enhanced Security

The most obvious benefit is enhanced security. With a parking access control system, the likelihood of unauthorised access, theft, or vandalism drops significantly.

Surveillance cameras can also capture evidence, which can be crucial for law enforcement in the event of a crime.

Efficiency and Speed

Imagine a busy shopping mall during the holidays. Traffic would be a nightmare, but a well-designed parking access control system can greatly speed up the flow of vehicles, reducing waiting time and increasing customer satisfaction.

Data Collection and Analytics

In today's data-driven world, the value of actionable insights cannot be overstated. These systems can collect valuable data such as frequency, average parking duration, peak hours, and more.

This data can be analysed to make informed decisions—whether it's adjusting pricing strategies or planning expansion.

Applications: Where You Can Implement Access Control

Residential Properties

In residential settings like apartment complexes and gated communities, securing parking areas is crucial for the safety of both residents and their vehicles. Unauthorized vehicles can be more than just a nuisance; they can be a security threat.

Commercial Facilities

In commercial buildings and shopping malls, an efficient parking system is not just a security measure but also a contributor to overall customer experience.

Public Parking Spaces

Airports, hospitals, and schools have unique needs. For instance, airports require a multi-layered approach, combining public parking with restricted zones that might require higher security clearances.


Choosing the Right Access Control for Your Parking Space

Cost and Budget

While cost is always a consideration, it's important to balance initial expenses against the long-term benefits, such as decreased likelihood of theft or increased efficiency.


As your needs grow, you'll need a system that can grow with you. The best parking access control systems offer scalable solutions that can adapt to your expanding requirements.

Vendor Support and Maintenance

It's not just about installation; it's about the long-term maintenance and support. Ensure that your vendor offers comprehensive post-installation services.



Securing parking areas has never been more critical or more complex, but it has also never been easier thanks to the advancements in parking access control technologies.

As a security installer, equipping yourself with this knowledge not only adds another tool to your toolbox but also adds value to your client's operations.


Additional Resources

For those looking to deepen their understanding, there are specialised certification courses and webinars available. Industry events and expos also provide opportunities for hands-on experience with the latest technologies.

Equip yourself, keep learning, and offer your clients the most comprehensive, efficient, and secure parking solutions possible.

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Why Should You Trust Us?

It seems that people and vehicle access control is an incredibly complex world using hard to understand technology, yet it impacts so many of the environments we interact with on a daily basis.

We are here to fill in the disconnect. We'll break down access control, the benefits, and drawbacks as well, including expert insight based on over 30 years experience in the industry operating as an independent British company. Our goal is to give you ALL the information so you know what's right for you.

Please consider subscribing or adding to the conversation in the comments below. We appreciate you taking the time to visit our resource centre.

Elliot Blackler

Elliot is the in-house content specialist at Nortech and runs all aspects of the resource hub. He's passionate about UK manufacturing and how modern content marketing can help bring light to complex industries.

Elliot works extensively with the Nortech team to shine a light on the access control industry for both installers and end users. Always keen to improve, feel free to email him on new content suggestions or feedback!

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