Access control isn’t just for common areas anymore

One of the biggest challenges for multi-tenant apartments is managing who is actually living there and who may just be using the facilities.  You want the facility to be secure but convenient to access for authorized tenants.

The challenge is restricting access to anyone who isn’t authorized.  This may include someone who may not be on the lease or may be breaking the rules by subletting the unit either directly or through a service like AirBnB.

Historically you could manage this problem with some sort of access control like keys, card access, FOBs or keypads but unfortunately those are no longer viable options.  That is because keys can be easily shared or copied for a few bucks, even the ones that say “do not copy”.   PIN numbers are always shared and the keypads rarely changed so people who left years ago may still have access.  Most recently, cards and FOBs can be cloned at kiosks or duplicates purchased on-line for a few bucks.  Once those copies are out there, all security and accountability is out the window.  So if there is an incident or injury with someone who shouldn’t be on the property but was able to access it using one of the older technologies, you’ve got a real problem.

Fortunately the emergence of Smartkeys lets you take control of who can get in and who can’t once again.  Smartkeys are “digital” keys that run in an app on your Smartphone.  They can be easily granted and revoked in seconds and you know who used them and when.  Users simply walk up to the door or gate, press a button on their Smartphone and it opens.   The beauty of Smartkeys is that the better ones are not easily shared, they only work on the Smartphone they were issued do.  This means if you want to let someone use your apartment while you are away, you need to give them your Smartphone, not likely to happen.  So if you are on the lease, you get a Smartkey but if you aren’t, tough!

Smartkeys are proven, the first ones were developed in 2007 by a company called ECKey and they have only improved since then. However, it is still a relatively new market with lots of new entrants so there are some things you should consider before you make a final decision.

1. First, make sure that the Smartkeys can’t be shared.

Many big-box DIY products simply require a user name and password.  If someone shares that with you, you have access.  The more mature Smartkeys will only work on the Smartphones they were issued to.

2. Next, make sure they are encrypted.

Again, the less mature products use open Bluetooth that can easily be hacked.  Make sure the company you work with has built in the necessary security to prevent hacking.

3. Reliability and speed are also critical so try before you buy.

If your Smartkeys require a network or data connection to work, what happens if that is down temporarily, are they locked out?  Choose a product that works with Bluetooth only so even if there is no connection available, you can still get in.

4. Lastly is cost, make sure:

  • to research what the total cost of ownership is
  • the system is easy to use so you don’t need ongoing training
  • updates are free, you don’t want ongoing fees to keep your system from becoming antiquated
  • if a network connection is required you understand the ongoing costs including network hardware updates, ISP costs etc.
  • any annual service includes hardware warranties for as long as you have the service
  • you understand if the Smartkeys are a one-time fee or you have to pay an annual user fee for each Smartkey

If you’re interested in getting Smartkeys set up for your rentals contact VIZpin at [email protected] OR 717.327.4244