Almost all tenants use email and the web everyday. Some use it as a secondary communication system. The more advanced are establishing virtual private networks, storing information off-site in managed servers and/or conducting the bulk of their business through a secure ASP.
The drive to technological improvement, in many instances, is sparked by a growing need to save (through realized efficiencies and accountability) and/or to improve customer experience. The real estate industry is no different. With installation of visitor access systems and building portals, owners and managers are utilizing technology to increase operating efficiencies and improve their tenants’ experience.
Why web-based access control systems? Over the course of the last few months, individual fears have begun giving way to a lasting mindfulness of a strengthened community and a shared experience. New technologies continue to be offered to protect us throughout the day. Sharing daily travels, we see new security cameras peering at us, we walk through turnstiles and/or get our magnetic cards read like a cereal box at the supermarket. Usually placed in the hands of guard services and monitoring companies, these solutions tend to focus on identification and surveillance. An expectation exists that these systems and the people operating them serve to protect the building and its tenants. However, which visitors and delivery trucks are allowed access to each building is ultimately the tenant’s responsibility.
Confusion and delay are often the norm as guards monitoring the lobby attempt to decipher which visitors actually have permission to enter a building. Rather than focusing on security cameras and looking for suspicious behavior, lobby personnel are busy directing traffic. Important visitors are forced to wait, lines form, and tempers flare. Since the Internet is a common thread running through almost every tenant, a web-based access system creates the opportunity to maintain order and efficiency as a team. Bringing together community and responsibility, web-based access systems and building portals foster a collective awareness. Tenants, empowered by technology, take part in their own safety and security.
With the introduction of the Internet, building portals and access systems thought first to be ancillary now provide the cornerstone of developing each building’s natural community and shared experience. Using a building portal as the collective nervous system of every building, individual tenants can together manage the livelihood of their community. The power of keycard systems, surveillance cameras and other scanning devices managed by one web-based platform, allow tenants to participate in the egress and ingress of employees, visitors, vendors and strangers. People arrive on time, instead of being herded towards an unknowing lobby desk waiting to find out whether they will be allowed entrance. A well-designed system must be user-friendly enough for all tenants and building employees. Training should be simple and inexpensive.
How does it translate off-line? Take a look at two different scenarios. Scenario #1; after a potential tenant just waited three minutes in the lobby trying to get a visitor pass and access to the appropriate floor, the leasing agent attempts to show the space. Meanwhile, the only thing on the potential tenant’s mind is what his legal bill will add up to when his $350 per hour attorney is forced to wait in the lobby. Scenario #2; the leasing agent prior to visiting the building logged into the building portal and created a visitor pass for the customer. When the customer arrived the pre-printed pass is given to him as he is directed to the appropriate elevator. He is greeted on the floor by the agent and shown the space. No lines, no hassles.
Clearly, the biggest issue facing building security is vendor access. Trucks carrying everything from office supplies to water are arriving at loading docks every day. What precautions, if any, can be taken to ensure that these visitor/strangers are not arriving with malicious intent? Many buildings use their security force to check delivery slips, the drivers and the contents of each truck. Even so, for some buildings the amount of traffic makes it virtually impossible to be completely thorough. Using a web-based portal and access system to track and record expected deliveries aids in securing each building. Taken a step further, if as a building community, tenants only used vendors that complied with the building’s access control system, traffic in the building would at least diminish to manageable.
Connectivity is commonplace, web-browsers are pervasive, and almost everybody has email. The real estate industry is poised to make sweeping changes in the way it deals with tenants and their concerns. For obvious reasons, those building owners who are spending money on new technologies are investing in solutions that augment existing security. Using the web will ultimately succeed in making these investments more than worthwhile. A comprehensive system combining access control, building information and vendor management in one easy-to-use centralized application provides the only truly universal solution that will meet the demand of the times.