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Access Control Systems

Learn about managing access control systems, users, and credentials that enable you to control access to physical spaces.

What Is an Access System?

Access control systems (ACSs) enable you to manage and monitor access to physical spaces, such as offices, residential complexes, and special-purpose facilities.
Instead of using mechanical keys, an ACS generally uses electronic means of access, like RFID cards, mobile keys, biometric identifiers, or PIN codes as credentials. This use of electronic means of access enables Seam to grant or rescind access easily, as well as to compile an audit log of when a key was used.
ACSs generally manage the following parameters:
  • Who has access
  • To which entrances, doors, or zones each person has access
  • At what times each person can gain access
  • Under what conditions each person is allowed access (for example, COVID test completed, ID verification, and so on)
The Seam API provides the capability to manage users and their access permissions. You can also issue credentials (such as PIN codes, key cards, and mobile phone passes) to users, as well as retrieve access log events and overall site analytics to determine attendance or building occupancy.

Access System Components

The Seam access system schema consists of a series of objects that interact to enable you manage your ACS in a logical, efficient manner. The top-level object is the system that represents one or more buildings, residential locations, or other sites that you manage using this ACS. Within the system, you identify the set of entrances, doors, or zones that you want to manage, identifying each by the corresponding lock object. You also identify the set of users who access these entrances, doors, or zones.
Access groups provide an efficient way to grant sets of scheduled access to one or more users. That is, you create access group objects that specify the entrances, doors, or zones to which a set of users has access, as well as the days and times at which these users have access to these entrances, doors, or zones.
Finally, you issue sets of credentials—such as access codes, key cards, and mobile passes—to individual users.
The following diagram illustrates the relationship between Seam access system components:
Seam access system components

What Is a User?

A "user" typically refers to an individual who requires access, like an employee or resident. Each user can possess multiple "credentials" that serve as their keys or identifiers for access. The type of credential can vary widely. For example, in the Salto system, a user can have a PIN code, a mobile app account, and a fob. In other platforms, it is not uncommon for a user to have more than one of the same credential type, such as multiple key cards. Additionally, these credentials can have a schedule or validity period.

What Is an Access Group?

An "access group" is a set of users, combined with a set of permissions. These permissions include both the set of areas or assets that the users can access and the schedule during which the users can access these areas or assets. Instead of assigning access rights individually to each user, which can be time-consuming and error-prone, administrators can assign users to an access group, thereby ensuring that the users inherit all the permissions associated with the access group. Using access groups streamlines the process of managing large numbers of users, especially in bigger organizations or complexes.

Use Cases

Leverage the Seam API for the following tasks:
  • Creating and managing users: Streamline the process of adding and removing users, as well as defining users' access permissions.
  • Issuing and distributing credentials: Automate issuing PIN codes, key cards, or mobile app passes to users.

Next Steps

To learn how to manage access control system components, see the following guides:
For the corresponding Seam API reference, see Access Control Systems.