The ‘new normal’ in access control

Intratone takes a look at how the latest access control technology can ensure tenant security and safety as we emerge from lockdown

Tenant safety and security have always been a priority for housing and property managers – everyone has a right to feel safe in their own homes.

From regular health and safety checks to building repairs, maintenance, and access control, a managers’ remit in terms of keeping tenants safe is a broad one.

Taking access control in particular, housing and property managers need to ensure that entry for residents, visitors and contractors is seamless, while unwanted visitors are kept out. With traditional access control systems this can prove challenging, both to implement a system that meets these requirements, and also to manage it on a day-to-day basis, especially as time-consuming site visits are often necessary to ensure the system’s smooth operation.

Now, with COVID-19 adding a whole new layer of complexity to property management in terms of social distancing and tenant safety, how can housing professionals ensure that their buildings stay secure – while at the same time keeping both themselves and their residents safe during a pandemic?

Safe and sound

Multi-dwelling properties often house a broad range of tenants, including the elderly or those with a physical disability, as well as young or single occupants, with commonplace safety and security concerns.

Safety initiatives such as fire risk assessments and emergency evacuation plans, which guarantee that residents know the actions they should take in the event of an alarm or fire occurring, are just two ways property and housing managers can grant them peace of mind.

In terms of security, tenants want to know that no-one except residents can gain access to their building, that key fobs cannot be copied, for example, and that housing and property managers are in full control.

Access control is a crucial, and relatively simple way that building security can be enhanced. It can be achieved through the installation of proximity readers with key fobs that can’t be copied, and can quickly be disabled when lost, as well as through door access systems such as wireless intercoms and coded keypads. Plus, by installing video-enabled access technology, tenants can identify exactly who is calling for them before they open the door, to help them feel as safe as possible in their own home.

Reducing on-site interaction

With traditional access control devices, site visits and face-to-face contact are still necessary. From granting access to contractors on-site, to managing keys or key fobs and updating ever-changing tenant details, access control management can be time-consuming.

Indeed, COVID-19 has made this task even more difficult. Housing professionals now need to complete these tasks while maintaining a social distance, reducing the overall amount of site visits, and minimising on-site contact.

For housing and property managers, a solution that delivers secure access control – and which also allows for operation in our ‘new normal’ – is vital. Fortunately, the latest wireless access control technology reduces the need for on-site contact, while simultaneously boosting time and management efficiencies.

GSM as the solution

GSM, or the Global System for Mobile Communications, offers an answer to these challenges. A digital cellular technology that transmits data such as voice and video to other devices, it uses Subscriber Identification Module cards – or SIM cards – to connect users across the network.

The implementation of SIM cards and GSM capabilities into access control systems, like intercoms, allows tenants to grant property access to visitors via their own smartphone or tablet. In contrast to traditional, radio frequency-based systems, wireless GSM-based devices have an unlimited range – making property management infinitely more practical.

Plus, when connected to online property management systems, GSM-based devices make access control processes achievable remotely: for example, making changes to residency access, adding new users to the building, or changing key fob details. This significantly reduces both the need to be on-site and the number of interactions with service providers and residents – making things safer all round.

Socially distanced installations

As a wireless, handset-free access control technology, GSM also allows for easier fittings and is ideal for retrofit installations. Service engineers’ time on-site and their interaction with residents is significantly reduced, as there is no need to enter individual dwellings or flats to connect receivers to handsets. Similarly, with no cabling to flats or handsets required, there is little requirement for ongoing maintenance.

Access control for the ‘new normal’

By harnessing the power of GSM, property and housing managers can keep their residents safe while also making their access control processes more intuitive and efficient: removing the need for clunky plastic handsets and complicated installations.

Wireless GSM-based devices’ remote management capabilities make life significantly easier for housing professionals too by reducing the amount of time they need to spend on-site via real-time, remote monitoring and updates.

With GSM-based access control, tenant safety can be prioritised while their security is also enhanced: all without compromising on efficiency.