daytime skyline of washington dc


Washington DC is a melting pot of locals, traveling professionals, and visitors. This means the nation’s capital is buzzing with people at all times of the day, coming in and out of office and residential buildings.

So, there’s no question that safety and access control in Washington DC is pivotal. And this provides the perfect opportunity to tap into some of the best access control systems that make navigating the city easier.

In this post, we cover:


Who needs access control in Washington DC?

Essentially, anyone who lives or works in a high-traffic building can benefit from an access control system.

Apartment buildings in Washington DC make up most of the housing, with approximately 128,000 apartment buildings. But the emergence of mixed-use buildings (also known as live-work-play buildings) means there are more commercial buildings that need access control, as well.


What is the main purpose of access control?

Access control’s main purpose is to provide ample security to make residents feel safe in densely populated areas. However, it should also allow for easy access to all aspects of daily life ― including access to residences and work buildings.


see the list of best cloud-based access control systems


What are the 4 types of access control in Washington DC?

Not all access control systems are equal. While some might be secure, they don’t all offer the same amount of convenience.

Discover the best types of access control for buildings in Washington DC:

  1. Key card and key fob
  2. Keypad access control system
  3. Video intercom access control
  4. Mobile access control


1. Key card and key fob systems

You’re more likely to see this type of Washington DC access system in office buildings or parking garages.

While key card and key fob access control systems aren’t particularly difficult to use, they aren’t entirely convenient. Users are more likely to misplace their cards and fobs. However, since everyone has used one of these at least once, the learning curve is short.


2. Keypad access control systems

Keypad access allows entry to buildings via a PIN. These systems are attractive to some because of their simplicity and ease of use. However, most keypad systems aren’t very modern and don’t have convenience as a selling point.

Forgotten PINs are a problem for some, while the prospect of sharing private code information is unattractive to others.


Discover how keypad access control systems work:


3. Video intercom access control

A video intercom system is both safe and convenient, with transparency built into it.

Video intercoms allow residents to have one-way or even two-way conversations with anyone wanting to be let in. Additionally, video intercom systems allow apartment residents to let visitors (service professionals, delivery personnel, or guests) into the building remotely.


4. Mobile access control

A mobile access control system is a type of technology that allows users to open doors and gates from their smart devices — this includes smartphones, tablets, or smartwatches.

These systems are convenient not only for residents but also for property managers. With mobile access control systems, viewing entry logs makes maintaining security simple. Additionally, providing access PIN codes to delivery companies is quick and easy.


access control in washington dc with buildings at night


Which access control system is best for your building?

Just because a system is easy to use doesn’t mean it’s the right one for your building type. There are merits to each type of system that match some buildings better.

Here are the best access control systems for various buildings in Washington DC:

  • Apartments and condominiums: The best type of access control system for these residences is going to be either the video intercom system or the mobile access control system. These are convenient for residents and property managers.
  • Single-use office buildings: Because these buildings are not resident-centric, a key card or key fob system might be best for professionals who are coming and going.
  • Mixed-use buildings: Mixed-use buildings demand access control that fits their uncommon structure. Not everyone who lives in one of these buildings will need access to the commercial side and vice versa. It’s safe to say that most mixed-use buildings require dual access depending on each side’s needs.


Access control installation in Washington DC

One of the biggest concerns when assessing a building’s need for access control is the installation process. Depending on the building’s requirements, installation can either be very involved or quick and easy.

Many Washington DC buildings are old and full of dated wiring, which means wiring throughout the whole building will need to be replaced if you purchase a wired access control system.

Furthermore, you’ll need to find a company that knows how to install access control systems in older buildings. Before hiring them, make sure they’re familiar with wired vs wireless installation.

A good example of wireless access control is ButterflyMX’s wireless video intercom. This system replaces wired in-unit hardware with residents’ smartphones, so there’s no need to run wiring throughout the entire building.



  • Access control in Washington DC is critical to the security and ease of access for everyone who works, lives, or visits the city.
  • The main purpose of access control is to provide simpler, more secure living in a densely populated area.
  • The four best types of access control for buildings in Washington DC are key card and fob access systems, keypads, video intercoms, and mobile access control systems.
  • The best types of access control are the ones that enhance the security and convenience of your commercial or residential building.
  • Finally, find an installer that is familiar with older buildings in Washington DC, and knows the difference between wired and wireless access control systems.


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Rebecca Cline

Rebecca is based in Northern Virginia and has been a writer all her life. She loves learning new things and enjoys writing everything from real estate to property management!