Gated residential communities can consist of single-family homes, condominiums, or leased apartments. The concept of a gated community came into existence in the interest of safety. By restricting entry to residents, visitors, staff, delivery agents, and maintenance personnel, a level of security can be maintained in the community for the protection of its residents. Advances in technology have made gated community access control fast, easy, efficient, and cost-effective. Using a wide range of technology that is available today, homeowners and community managers can not only safeguard their community but also allow residents to regulate access easily and securely.
What is access control?
Managing shared access to a space involves several challenges. Within gated communities that contain apartments and condominiums, controlled access might also be required for gyms, pools, and laundry rooms. Whether it is a single point of shared access or multiple points, the main objective is to strike a balance between restricting access to unauthorized persons while making it easy for authorized persons to gain access quickly and easily. An additional aspect of access control is allowing multiple persons to control the system from various devices and also allowing them to grant and revoke access to others. Several high-tech solutions make all this possible.
How does access control work?
– The most traditional form is with a physical guard posted at the gate, who checks the credentials of residents and visitors either manually or by entering it into a system to validate it against a database.
– This system evolved over the years and became more automated to make it more foolproof and secure. The system that most of us are familiar with is gaining entry with an electronic clicker or fob.
– The system further progressed from hardware-based to software-based by allowing residents to punch codes into a keypad. The drawback to this is that the codes can be shared or spied upon and misused by unauthorized personnel. Frequent changes to the code to prevent this could cause significant confusion and require cumbersome system resetting.
– RF or radio frequency technology and NFC or near-field communication have circumvented that issue. They provide access with entry tags that are automatically detected by sensors at the entrance. This finally made the process completely automated and contactless.
– With the proliferation of mobile devices and apps, it is now possible to control access via the internet. Well-designed apps that are easy to use allow residents to manage access control so that they do not even have to be physically present at the entrance to provide access, perhaps for a visitor or another family member. The system also has features like the ability to grant access permissions for specific windows of dates and times as well as revoking the same, all from the same dashboard user interface on the app.
What are the advantages of access control?
Technological solutions for access control have several advantages like improved security, ease of use, and customization. Due to these benefits, a wide range of high-tech electronic and online solutions are available and can be tailored to the specific needs of each gated community.
– With any electronic automatic access control system, the need for human security personnel is eliminated. This connects the user directly to the security system and makes middlemen unnecessary. With fewer people in between the user and the access to their living space, the system is safer and more secure.
– If a user loses their phone, the solution provider can be notified and they can immediately disable the electronic key as the information is stored on the cloud, not just locally on the user’s phone. The provider can then restore access with changed credentials.
– Cloud-based access control systems automatically save detailed logs of the user’s activity. This includes who holds the master key, how many shared keys were issued, for which dates and times, and the access activity of each. These logs can be used to trace and identify access activity of interest in case of a security incident. Real-time logs are also generated in some solutions for the holder of the master key to be able to monitor the activity of shared keys in real-time.
– Software-based electronic access systems are either totally or partially cloud-based. This makes them vulnerable to hackers but they are fortified by several levels of firewalls and robust mobile security features that make them virtually impossible to hack. The Nimbio access control system for gates, for example, is Linux-based and hacking it would be way too time-consuming and complicated a process just to gain gate access. Also, security updates and patches are pushed to users’ phones so that their access is perpetually protected with the latest security updates.
– In current times, communities need safeguarding on the health front as well. Contact free access systems make entering and exiting the community safer as it is done through personal mobile devices and do not require touching a keypad or interacting with guards. In cases where communities prefer residents to be cleared by a human guard, companies like TechPro Security Solutions provide a virtual guard service. A live guard assesses and clears residents and visitors for entry via a security kiosk. The guard sees the visitor via a video camera and the user is asked to scan their license at the kiosk for clearance.
– TechPro Security Solutions also offers automatic body temperature scans. Anyone gaining entry passes through a facial recognition system and a temperature scan. Anyone running a fever can be traced. This is especially beneficial in buildings that encounter high volumes of entry and exit traffic.
– Distributed access is one of the attributes of an electronic access control system. Users can manage access permissions on multiple devices like mobile devices, laptops, or via virtual digital assistants.
– Some communities might not want to incur the added expense of completely revamping their hardware-based access control systems, which use clickers, fobs, or key codes. In such cases, a software solution can be mounted on top of the existing system so that users who prefer to use their smart phone may do so while the remaining users can continue with the older system. Nimbio offers such a solution and it can also be used to gradually transition the system from hardware to software.
– A single key can be used to access multiple entries within the community. Apart from the main entrance, this can include pools, gyms, and other common areas.
– All the latest access control solutions stay compatible with the latest mobile operating systems so that there are no technical glitches in their operation.
– Easily accessible tech support and communication apprise residents of its features and how to use it. This is true during installation and also continues post-purchase.
Advanced technological features:
– Most access control systems that operate via the internet can do so via wifi, ethernet, or mobile data, making them seamless solutions.
– One resident per household possesses a master key and other family members or frequent visitors can have shared keys. Family members have family keys and visitors have doorbell keys. The number of shared keys per household are typically stipulated by the homeowner’s association. The holder of the master key can manage the permissions of the shared keys through their app and also monitor activity, access past logs, and so on. Homeowners can also use this system to grant and revoke access to their tenants.
– Residents can customize repeat vendor access by managing privileges by date and time.
– Solutions like those provided by QuickPass are completely cloud-based and do not have a bulky backup system for on-demand data and reports delivery.
– QuickPass is feature-rich but also modular so that features can be quickly added and removed by the users themselves via the app. A single-view dashboard user interface makes it easy for users to navigate and manage all the features quickly and easily.
– QuickPass offers real-time reporting and thumbnail views of multiple security cameras. It uses NFC or near-field communication via tag readers to enable access to repeat visitors.
In conclusion, gated community access control has kept pace with the latest technology. Property technology or PropTech in general is being adopted by a growing number of gated communities and leasing companies. Access control is a subset of property technology that has become increasingly popular in recent years because it enhances the level of security without compromising the level of control that residents themselves have over the system.