Physical Access Control Systems (PACS) for Multifamilies

Physical access control systems have many benefits for multifamilies. From security to convenience and increasing the property value.


As their name implies, physical access control technologies are used to control and monitor the movement of people and objects into and out of physical locations, such as buildings. They are used in a wide variety of settings, including apartment buildings, multifamily communities, office buildings, government facilities, and industrial sites.

This is in contrast with Logical access control systems, that restricts virtual access to computer networks, files, and data (e.g., you type a login password into your computer).

Physical access control technologies can help to improve security, reduce crime, and streamline operations. They can also help to protect valuable assets and ensure the safety of personnel. Moreover, Access control physical security ensures that only people who are authorized to enter can do so, keeping intruders outside.

Modern physical access control systems also provide a way for a property’s visitors to request access.

Physical access control for multi family

Types of physical access control technologies

There are a variety of different types of physical access control technologies available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some of the most common types of physical access control technologies include:

  • Keypad access control systems: Keypad access control systems require users to enter a PIN code to unlock a door or gate. Keypad systems are relatively simple to install and operate, and they can be used to control access to multiple doors and gates.
  • Proximity card access control systems: Proximity card access control systems use RFID tags or key fobs to unlock doors and gates. Proximity card systems are more convenient for users than keypad systems, and they are more difficult to tamper with.
  • Biometric access control systems: Biometric access control systems use biometric data, such as fingerprints, facial recognition, or iris scans, to identify and authenticate users. Biometric systems are the most secure type of physical access control system, but they are also the most expensive.

Access control components

physical barrier

Access control hardware is the physical components of a physical access control system. Some of the most common types of access control hardware include:

  • Physical barrier: Such as gates, door locks, or any other means that require a device such as keyfob, pin code, app etc. to get through.
  • Identifying credentials: Most PACS require users to have a means of identifying themselves. Identification can have one or more factors – This can be a physical factor (something you have) like a keyfob or mobile app, information factor such as password or pincode (something you know), or a biometric factor such as fingerprint (something you are). Out of all these options, mobile app identification systems, such as Gatewise, are gaining the most traction in recent years.
  • Readers: Readers are used to read the access credentials of users, such as PIN codes, proximity cards, or biometric data. With cloud based systems, the reader is communicating with a centralized server that validates the credentials of the requesting person.
  • Controllers: Controllers are the brains of a physical access control system. They receive signals from the readers and process them to determine whether to grant or deny access.
  • Locks: Locks are used to physically control access to doors and gates. These can be standard locks (open and close with physical keys) or smart locks that can be opened via a mobile app or pincode.
  • Exit devices: Exit devices allow users to exit a building without having to use their access credentials.

Benefits of using physical access control technologies in apartment buildings

There are a number of benefits to using physical access control technologies in multifamily and apartment buildings, including:

  • Improved security: Physical access control technologies can help to improve security by making it more difficult for unauthorized individuals to access the building. This can help to reduce crime and protect tenants and their property.
  • Convenience: Physical access control technologies can make it more convenient for tenants to access the building. For example, tenants can use a mobile app, which they carry anyway, or key fobs to unlock their doors without having to carry keys.
  • Streamlined operations: Physical access control technologies can help to streamline operations by making it easier for management staff to manage access to the building. For example, management staff can easily add, remove, or modify access credentials without having to issue new keys. This is done usually via a web based control panel that can be accessed only by the authorized management members.
  • Reduced costs: Physical access control technologies can help to reduce costs by reducing the need for keys and key reprogramming. They can also help to reduce the cost of security personnel.

Choosing the right physical access control system for your multifamily / apartment building

When choosing a physical access control system for your building, there are a number of factors to consider, including:

  • The size of your building or community: If you have a large building, you will need a system that can handle a large number of users and doors.
  • Your budget: Physical access control systems can vary in price, so it is important to set a budget before you start shopping.
  • Your security needs: Consider the level of security you need and choose a system that offers the appropriate features. This can be determined based on the location of your building/multifamily, past known threats – both external and internal.
  • Integration options – in most cases, you’re already running a management system for your multifamily/building. Make sure to check if the physical access control system can integrate with it, thus making the task of managing access seamless for your team.
  • Ease of use: Make sure to choose a system that is easy for both tenants and management staff to use.


Physical access control technologies can offer a number of benefits for apartment multifamily owners. By improving security, convenience, and operational efficiency, physical access control technologies can help to create a safer and more livable environment for tenants.

The current state of things shows that using a cloud based system which offers flexibility and enhanced security, combined with mobile app as the means of communicating credentials is the best option for most multifamily/apartment buildings. If the system has a built in video streaming, or can be integrated with one, is a major advantage to your overall security.

The video recording is important also, as it creates a visual audit trail of property entries for staff and tenants to review. And finally, it helps deter potential trespassers.

Additional tips for using physical access control technologies in apartment buildings

  • Use a cloud-based system: Cloud-based physical access control systems such as Gatewise are easier to manage and maintain than on-premises systems. They also offer the flexibility to manage access from anywhere.
  • Integrate your system with other security systems: Integrating your physical access control system with other security systems, such as video surveillance and intrusion detection systems, can further improve security. By combining video management with cloud-based access control, you can reach a higher level of security. This enables you to watch your multifamily/building access points in real-time and verify access requests using video streams.
  • Educate your tenants: Make sure to educate your tenants on how to use the physical access control system. This will help to ensure that the system is used properly and that security is maintained.