condo security 

Pandemic boosts tech trends in condo security 

What's new in access control?
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
By Norbert Artur

The events of the past year increased an already existing demand for comprehensive and efficient access control systems. As more individuals began working from home, many permanently, there was more activity in neighbourhoods, increased deliveries, and a greater need for residents to protect their work and personal assets.

Beyond basic security, many condo corporations are searching for solutions to ensure resident health and safety, as well as systems designed to be streamlined and as contactless as possible. Security, efficiency, and hygiene have been the focus of the past year, and some of these functionalities are here to stay.

Managing access with mobile devices

One of the biggest trends in the multi-unit residential market is using mobile devices to manage access. Pre-pandemic, residents were taking building security into their own hands. This functionality proved to be particularly convenient, as pandemic restrictions meant fewer onsite staff. With a mobile app, comes the flexibility to manage access to condo buildings, private living spaces, and shared common areas. For larger condos and mixed-use buildings this solves a major pain point – offering a security solution accessible for both residents and facility staff use.

Application-based access control is an ideal solution for managing access in high-end luxury apartments as well, where there are onsite pools, gyms, and other amenities. Residents can use their mobile device to manage access into a lobby and elevator as well as their own living spaces. Another benefit of mobile management is the ability to provide a seamless process for delivered packages, grocery drop-offs, or takeout delivery. In a building with a separate room for mail deliveries, a resident can respond directly from their mobile device and grant the mail person entry into the lobby and then into the mailroom, after confirming identity. The same applies for any grocery, food, and dry-cleaning deliveries – adding an extra level of safety in a time where the use of delivery services has increased.

While mobile-based management offers streamlined and flexible access control, it’s not without challenges. Older demographics may be less familiar with using smartphone-based applications. As such, it’s best to start a conversation today, as it’s only a matter of time before outdated technologies are phased out. As mobile solutions continue to grow in popularity, most everyone will manage access from their smartphones.

Using video for visual identification, as well as audio communication

Audio communication systems used to consist of a simple telephone or intercom system. However, today’s requirements include a full-service system, one that combines audio with video communication and visual verification. It’s not enough to hear a person through an intercom, to simply swipe a card, or to press a button. Owners and management want the capability to visually confirm that the person requesting access is who they say they are. By leveraging an additional layer of communication, especially with the mobile app, residents can see who’s requesting access directly from their smartphone.

Enhanced security and a touchless entry system

The pandemic boosted interest in contactless and touchless solutions, including mobile credentials, sensors, and biometrics. A touchless sensor can be integrated with an access control system to detect motion within a preset range and be activated with a simple hand gesture.

In a condo where key cards aren’t used, a sensor could be used to gain access to a lobby or shared common space. An individual can simply approach the sensor field to trigger a signal to communicate to the front desk. This hands-off approach is a capability that is increasingly popular, especially since more people are working from home. Touch-free functionality is also a bonus for facilitating deliveries of packages, groceries, or food, especially in situations where a person might have their hands full.

Over the last two years, homes have become much more than a living space; they are gyms, schools, workspaces, and so much more. Whether it’s protecting work assets, communicating with a delivery driver or leaving for a vacation knowing the home is protected—security remains as important as ever.

Norbert Artur is the director of sales – Canada at ​​Aiphone Corporation, a manufacturer of security access control and video intercom systems.

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