Get the Best Access Control for Your Property with This Checklist

Posted by Pearson Brock on December 19, 2019

Access control is one of the most effective security solutions for commercial properties and apartments. It's a simple way to manage who can and cannot enter the building. Property managers and owners won't have to worry about keys and changing the locks. Nor will they have to keep the doors unlocked for everyone. This risky move can bring in potential thieves.

Why You Want an Access Control System

When you select the right access control system, it does more than control who gets in and out of a building, parking lot, or structure. Many properties have areas in which only a few people can enter. For a commercial property, that may be a server room that holds customer information. For an apartment, it may be the office that only employees can access.

Apartments also have common areas like the swimming pool, gym, laundry room, and more. It's possible for an access control system to limit access to these common areas to just tenants.

Some apartment security systems can change access based on times or days of the week. If a property does not expect anyone to enter an area after hours and someone enters during that time, the system can send an alert.

What does it take to implement an effective access control system that does what you need it to do for your commercial property or apartment building? Check off these five items to get access control that helps protect your apartment and commercial properties while delivering a fast ROI.

1. Request a Security Evaluation of the Property

If your property has had a security evaluation, it may be time for another one. Technology advances at a fast pace. What the security industry considered the best technology last year is not necessarily the best one today.

For one thing, grainy videos are a thing of the past. Any company that has grainy video today needs to re-evaluate its video surveillance solution. Without a doubt, grainy video cameras cost less than high-definition cameras. However, what good is grainy video when you can't make out information or faces?

Another outdated technology is the use of closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras. No longer are you limited to monitoring the cameras on site. With internet protocol (IP) technology, you can watch your cameras from anywhere with an internet connection.

IP cameras also allow you to have trained operators monitoring your cameras instead of your employees. Many commercial and apartment properties have employees watching the cameras on top of their main responsibilities. This splits their attention. They need to focus on what they do best and what you hired them to do.

Trained operators have undergone training and know how to quickly respond to suspicious situations. They can catch things before damage happens or call the police to send them to your property, typically while the suspects are still there.

Apartments and commercial properties have a wide variety of apartment security options available. No one size fits all. Even two apartment buildings in the same city would have different needs and requirements.

Here are some things that factor in finding the right solution:

  • Location
  • Building type
  • Neighborhood
  • Background of tenants
  • Budget
  • Front desk presence
  • Type of parking
  • Number of entrances
  • Access to common areas
  • Limited-access areas

Before designing and selecting an access control system, you'll want a qualified security consultant who specializes in commercial properties and apartments to evaluate your property. The evaluation looks at its strengths and areas of improvement from a security standpoint. It'll identify the best security options.

For instance, what kind of access control system works best for your property? Do you want one that uses cards or badges? Or one where you punch in a code? An evaluation helps determine that.

2. Identify Assets to Help Protect with Your Property Security System

This most likely will come up during the evaluation. Still, it's critical to include this step. The purpose of identifying assets to protect is to select and prioritize commercial property and apartment security solutions.

If you have an empty commercial property, for example, you won't have to worry about protecting people and stored items. The biggest asset is the building itself. It could attract vandals who decide to put their signature on the exterior.

An apartment property may need to protect:

  • Employees and tenants
  • Outdoor pool
  • Dumpster
  • Fitness room
  • Parking lot and garage
  • Visitors and vendors
  • Entrances and exits

After determining what needs protecting, the next step is to think of every threat, vulnerability, and exposure that can affect each asset. Here's an example for apartment properties:

  • Fitness room: Theft, vandalism, and loitering
  • Outdoor pool: Drowning, diving injury, and bathing vagrants
  • Employees and tenants: Mugging, rape, kidnapping, and so on
  • Entrances: Uninvited guests who may commit a crime
  • Dumpster: Vagrants, divers, trash dumpers, and wild animals

Your commercial property and apartment security consultant can help identify assets and the vulnerabilities for each.

3. Design an Access Control System

You have many options with a comprehensive access control system. Prior to choosing one, document your access requirements. List who will have access to where and when. This is where design enters the picture.

Before you dig into the design, think about what you want to include in your commercial property and apartment security solution. Don't just think about what you need in an access system to protect the assets. Think about your whole security solution including integration, future-proofing, and accessibility.

Integration

The best security systems do not operate in a silo. They employ an integrated security system for greater efficiencies and cost savings. Integrated security also increases the ability to deter crime and deliver a quicker ROI than security guards and piece-meal security systems.

Future-proofing

It maximizes your resources for the longest time possible. Do you need it to scale? If you depend on software, how do you update it? Technology breaks. That's just a fact of tech life. When you accept something will break, you'll be better prepared to respond quickly and with minimal downtime. That's why the next item on this checklist is to maintain the access control system.

Accessibility

It's important to think about accessibility. Even if you don't have a single tenant in a wheelchair, it could change in the future. It could be as simple as someone who has knee surgery needing to use crutches, a wheelchair, or scooter. Would that person be able to get into the building?

The access control system needs to be low enough for wheelchair users. It needs to be easy to operate for people using crutches or have their hands full. Does it include two-way audio? If so, what happens if a deaf person tries to use it?

Parking

Do you have a parking garage with a gated entrance and exit? The access control system could work with that and the building. If you have an open parking lot, you'll want to explore other security solutions such as video surveillance to integrate with access control.

Floors, common areas, and limited-access areas

Will certain floors or rooms have limited access that you control on an individual basis? Tenants may have access to certain spaces such as the swimming pool or fitness room. Think about all the areas and who can access them.

For a commercial property, there may be areas like the server room that are off-limits for most employees. As you determine who has access to what, focus on the roles rather than people's names. Employees come and go.

To ensure the access control system's success, you'll want to create processes and a checklist. As an example, the process will cover that when an employee leaves, you turn off access and take the badge (if there is one). The same goes for when a tenant moves.

4. Maintain the Access Control System

As stated before, technology breaks. It'll be critical to manage and maintain the access control system. Ask about system health checks and what would happen if the power goes out. Document every possibility of something going wrong and the contingency for each. Security consultants can help as they've seen things happen and know how to solve them.

Technology can't work alone. It needs people and processes. That said, who is going to manage access control? Who is the backup? What happens when the manager goes on vacation?

Will you need a service contract or service level agreement (SLA)? How often does the software come out with an update? How do you update it? Who is responsible for updating it?

5. Add Live Video Surveillance

Do you have live video surveillance or plan to add it? Integrating it with an access control system will give you more security and information. Some systems can match the time stamp of the entry on the access control system with the video.

As you investigate access control, ask the security consultant about compatibility with other systems. Some systems could be the building's alarm, company critical systems, and HVAC.

Install an Access Control System

Does an access control system sound like something that would work well for your commercial property or apartment building? Stealth can work with you on the entire process. Our team can do an evaluation, design a solution, manage and maintain the system, and watch your cameras.

Again, having processes and maintaining the system ensures the security systems do their job best. What's the point of a security system if everyone opens the door for others to enter limited-access areas? Another factor to include is training. You want to educate employees and tenants on the importance of following security procedures.

This training includes tips such as what to do when someone tries to follow closely behind you to get into the building. Not everyone is comfortable handling such a situation, so they just let the person in.

Video surveillance enhances access control because it puts eyes across your property. If someone does walk in the building with an employee or tenant, the person's face is on camera and saved to a recording.

You want people to use your security systems. Keeping it simple is the key. That and training will increase the adoption rate. Our consultants have implemented security in commercial properties and apartments across North America. They know how to create a solution that works and that everyone will use. Best of all, it can increase your NOI.

To learn about access control systems, video surveillance, and security solutions that meet your needs, please contact us.


Posted in: Crime Prevention, Video Security Systems, Video Monitoring