by CJ Edmonds
Property managers have a number of options when it comes to access control technology. But not every product fits every community, or every purpose. Operators need to consider the function and flexibility required for optimal access control, and to maintain the integrity of their property.
While every community has unique characteristics, we have assembled an essential list of options that need to be assessed when selecting the right access control system.
From readers to intercoms to Bluetooth low energy (BLE) locks – touchless locks that can be controlled remotely from a smartphone or tablet – operators have a range of access solutions to choose from.
Reliability and performance are key factors when it comes to access control decisions. Does the solution create a more efficient and connected community, or create its own set of problems? For example, over the past decade key fobs and key cards have presented as many headaches as benefits for apartment operators, including lost cards and easily cloned fobs. But modern, cloud-based solutions are largely replacing that outdated technology and providing more consistency, dependability and flexibility for property managers.
Solutions by location
When selecting access control hardware, it’s important to assess how it will be used and how often it will be needed. Will the product be used at a perimeter entrance, an amenity, package room, garage, elevator or apartment door?
Frequently used access points like garages and elevators might be better served by hands-free solutions, while employee-only areas may not require the same technology. Some operators may prefer a single access solution throughout the community, while others may wish to deploy a variety of access technologies tailored to specific points within the property.
Another important consideration is how access credentials will be assigned. Will only residents and associates be granted access permissions, or will operators want the ability to issue temporary, limited access to trusted vendors, guests of residents, package carriers or maintenance personnel?
Modern access control platforms are fully integrated with most property management systems (PMS) to provide easy management of access credentials. Property managers can issue 24-hour guest access or temporary access to apartments so maintenance teams can complete work while residents are away. Using any mobile device, managers can manually add and remove access credentials when vendors arrive and complete their work, so a member of the management team doesn’t need to meet them in person to let them in.
Other benefits include the ability to issue access credentials to new residents at a certain time on move-in day, and automatically remove access permissions when a resident moves out. Managers can also sync and group resident access to specific doors, and create access schedules for amenities, offices and common areas.
How autonomous do you want self-guided tours to be? Due to the popularity of self-guided tours, many property management companies have turned to access control solutions that enable them to grant specific access permissions for the designated tour window.
Rather than first meeting with leasing associates upon arrival, prospective residents can conduct their own self-sufficient tour, using Bluetooth-powered credentials to access predetermined homes, amenities and property features. Operators can likewise control how, where and when prospective residents can access specific areas of a community. For instance, technology is becoming available that can limit access in a high-rise to only specific floors, offering another layer of security for residents.
Unlocking doors for vendors, guests and prospects merely provides access. But it lacks oversight. Property managers who prefer the ability to track and monitor the location and activity of vendors and prospects while they’re onsite will want to consider an access control system that includes user record management and reporting.
Cloud-based solutions remove the need for expensive networking equipment and enable managers to monitor visitor logs from any internet-connected device. Some systems even provide real-time geolocating technology to pinpoint the visitor’s precise location within the property. Additionally, managers can request notifications when a door is left open or propped.
Through PMS integrations, operators can monitor their comprehensive access control system, scale the solution during lease-up, construction or expansion, and combine access controls with other smart home networks to create a truly connected community.