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Quick hits: Four ways to improve access control on a tight budget

Building managers in urban areas like New York City face a fairly daunting access control task. On one hand, they have to ensure freedom of movement and convenience for tenants, their guests and service personnel. On the other, they have to protect resident assets and prevent security threats. While there are a number of extremely advanced solutions in place to make this easier, they are not always options for building managers on a budget. However, simple, intuitive technologies are also available, making it much easier for property managers to protect their tenants.

A few budget-friendly access control solutions include:

Cloud-based electronic locks
Electronic locks can be programmed to recognize signals from key fobs that are also programmed based on a user's access rights. For the most part, a basic electronic lock and key fob system is fairly inexpensive, especially if you only need to solution for a small- or mid-sized apartment or office building. What gets expensive is supporting the servers and computing systems needed manage the locks and host the application that allows security personnel to fine-tune the solution. This is where cloud computing comes into play, allowing the lock-related applications to be hosted in the web and dramatically reducing the capital costs associated with the technology.

Intercoms
For a relatively small building, an intercom system can allow a front-desk worker to control who enters or exits the building. This can be ideal for an office facility that supports a few small businesses, but needs to keep the front door locked because companies require multiple layers of protection. For residential property managers, an intercom can provide a major boost to access control by giving tenants the ability to let visitors in, allowing the entry points to stay locked at other times. An intercom button that connects to the front desk could then be used to allow service personnel and other types of visitors that may be tied to the building, but not any residents, to enter the facility.

Security cameras
A camera may not do much when it comes to physically stopping somebody from entering a building without authorization. However, a basic set of cameras that is clearly visible will show people that they are not going to be able to enter a building without their face being on record. In most buildings, there is a general routine of who comes and goes. An unusual person showing up can easily stand out. As a result, if a crime is committed in a facility equipped with cameras, it can be fairly simple to pick out the outlier who entered the building and is not a person who is normally around. Burglars know this, and while a security camera may not prevent a professional criminal from trying to get in, it could scare away somebody who is committing an impulse crime.

Developing multiple entry checkpoints
Buildings that have a receptionist with basic security duties in the lobby can often get away with keeping the front door open because that individual can notice guests and help them, or identify suspicious people and take action. However, doing this can be difficult if, once a person enters the building, he or she only has to get on to an elevator to get to apartment or office doors that may be unlocked or propped open for convenience. Introducing multiple locked or watched checkpoints within a building can make it easier to control who can travel throughout a facility.

Access control plays a vital role in building security, but you don't necessarily have to spend a fortune to improve security. Options are available for building managers who are working on a budget.

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