Property managers face a difficult task in providing security across their facilities for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that there are so many different types of properties that need to be managed, each with a different set of challenges.
Property management companies are responsible for operating a wide variety of multi-tenant commercial facilities including:
- Office buildings
- Shopping Centers
- Parking garages
In the residential space, managed facilities include:
- Apartment buildings
- Gated communities and other residential collectives
- Vacation homes and condos
In most cases the property manager is responsible for all tenant and building services including the physical security of both the tenants’ spaces, the general facility and common areas.
These requirements create a number of challenges:
- Access for tenants and service providers across multiple buildings – The property management staff and service providers need access privileges across all of the managed facilities, so ideally the access control system would be centrally managed so that personnel could easily be granted access to all and only the facilities that were appropriate from a single interface. For example, a maintenance worker could easily be granted access to all of the equipment closets in all properties or a sales representative could be granted access to all currently vacant or actively marketed properties.
- Expansion, reduction and relocation of tenants within facilities -Traditionally, when a tenant moves, expands or reduces their footprint in a multi-tenant facility, the access control system needs to be completely reconfigured and often, rewired. Ideally, the existing access control system’s data and rules including schedules, credentials, permissions would be preserved. In addition, the existing physical door hardware would be able to be reassigned as needed without requiring any changes in wiring.
- Managing security for shared entrances and shared spaces – It has always been particularly challenging to manage access privileges for shared facilities. When a tenant in a multi-tenant facility hires or fires an employee, the property manager generally needs to be informed so that access privileges to common entrances and shared spaces is kept up to date. This is a critical safety issue in multi-tenant facilities with large associated potential liabilities. Ideally, updating the permissions in a tenant’s security system would automatically make the appropriate changes to the facilities security configuration. In cases where the tenant’s access control system was self-managed, the property manager would be relieved of most of the work required to maintain those configurations.
- Tenant turnover – Tenant turnover requires that the property manager completely revoke a tenant’s ability to access a space when they terminate their lease, both for the security of shared property and the safety of the next tenant. This can be very expensive, often requiring the re-keying of locks and careful reconfiguration of security setting in the access control system – especially when the tenant had access to shared facilities. Ideally, with an electronic access control system all of the access permissions associated with a particular tenant (for individually accessible and shared facilities) could be accomplished in a single action delete the tenant and all of the permissions for all of personnel associated with that tenant would instantly be revoked.
Traditional access control systems are certainly capable of supporting all of these use cases. However, it requires a lot of effort and expense to make them perform as needed. There is simply, lots of room for errors and gaps because individual access control systems deployed across multiple facilities are not easily connected together and managing the complicated rules and permissions across these systems and for shared spaces within a single facility often requires hand-entered modifications to rules and permissions.
What’s needed to address these challenges more reliably with less effort and cost is an access control system in which all of the access controlled doors can be managed from a single interface, no matter where they are located and no matter who should have access to them. The system interface should make it easy to assign doors to tenants and to create doors that can be shared by tenants.
Furthermore, tenants themselves should (optionally) have access to their doors so that they can manage access permissions for their own personnel. The property manager should be able to decide exactly which data and functions their tenants themselves should be able to use and access. In addition, the property manager should be able to define the roles and responsibilities of their own employees and what rights and permissions they will have to the system and their tenants’ system and data. Furthermore, the property manager should be able to easily configure notifications and automatic reports across their properties instead of one at a time.
All of these things are now possible with cloud-based access control systems which are truly the only way to cost-effectively address all of the diverse challenges that property managers face. Instead of traditional access control panels, these systems use network appliances, sometimes call cloud door controllers. These devices have enough local intelligence and data storage to perform their functions reliably during network outages, but all of their configuration data and event data is stored in the cloud where it is accessible through any internet connection.
Management of and access to all of this data can then be managed through a multi-tenant, multi-tiered web application that allows a property manager to flexibly organize the tenants, doors, buildings and access permissions to match the requirements of their particular business. Moving and re-assigning doors to tenants or to groups of tenants for shared facilities can all be done through a web interface. All of the actual permissions that enable credentials to open doors are automatically updated and down loaded to the specific doors within seconds based on the configurations defined through the web application.
Deploying a cloud-based access control system is not only less expensive than deploying a traditional access control systems, it provides property managers with several unique opportunities.
- Offer Security as an amenity (free or for a fee) with the following features
- Remote monitoring of exceptions
- Remote look-in (with integrated video)
- Remote unlocking (for deliveries or off-hour service)
- Door access using a smartphone instead of a card
- Automated reporting for employee tracking
- Track, report and analyze access data across properties
- Improve cost accounting
- Better resource allocation
- Improve scheduling and efficiency of service and property maintenance
As with almost all other aspects of running a business, moving to the cloud provides incredible value while reducing costs. It’s taken awhile but physical security is now moving to cloud and providing property manager and others a better way to provide better security for themselves and their tenants’ while increasing convenience and flexibility AND reducing costs.