Optimizing Technology to Secure Community Amenities

Technology, when used to its full advantage, means you can virtually be in two places at one time. By doing so, you can quickly solve problems before they start, helping to make a happier and safer community.

With today’s systems, it is not necessary for staff to be present at a community center, fitness room or pool in order to ensure that it is safe, and access controlled.

For example, consider video surveillance. Brand-named cameras like Ring or Nest work well for residential properties, but such systems do not scale well for community facilities. In previous years, camera systems that are suitable for amenities were not affordable, had questionable resolution, and required large servers to store the footage. There could also be problems with accessing the desired time range, and because of the size of the data files, some camera systems could only be accessed at the site itself.

With current technology, cameras store footage to a cloud-based storage. This eliminates the need for large servers at the site while also permitting you to view the site in real time and the past via stored footage from your computer, phone or tablet, wherever you are. Additionally, since most cameras have a viewing app, you can set the cameras to detect motion and send staff members an alert about issues as they arise.

Access control is another big concern. Physical keys are difficult to control, since they are so easily copied or lost. Current software allows you to set up unique resident membership pass cards similar to those used by hotels. These unique cards can help you track the attendance of a specific resident, or identify attendance trends at your facilities – if, for example, you are considering changing operating hours and want to see how many residents use a facility at a specific time.

Physical membership passes themselves may also become a thing of the past. A new product being utilized is Near Field Communications (NFC), which comes standard on most smartphones. NFC, when used with compatible software and scanners, can be used to gain access to a pool and other amenities. This can be done by simply holding up a phone to the scanner, much like a regular membership card. Physical membership passes are easily lost, but hardly anyone today leaves home without their phone.

Finally, with remote desktop software (e.g., Remote Desktop Connection, Anydesk, etc.), you can access an amenity access computer from any of your devices. This software could permit you to open a locked door or secure an open door remotely, from your phone.

In conclusion, the most secure building would be one where staff is present, but the next best thing is to utilize technology and the virtual presence it creates.

By Jacob Sadler, CMCA

Jacob works as an assistant manager at Villages of Urbana in Frederick, MD, where he works for Community Association Services, Inc.

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