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Smart Home

Deploying Access Control Correctly in Multifamily Properties

Deploying new access control and smart gating solutions can be a complex undertaking for multifamily properties. When evaluating options and strategies, properties must consider deployment and operational logistics, the user and resident experience, integration with existing technology stacks, and performance under emergency conditions.

MDUs must carefully consider smart access control solutions' operational needs and requirements. Solutions with app-based or IP-based components require a network for communications, which may require upgrading or installing new networking equipment. Solutions also require power, with gate technology commonly needing to be wired in and smart locks requiring regular battery replacement. Will existing property networks offer sufficient coverage and reliability, or will a property need to upgrade or install new networking equipment? Will the solution be capable of alerting maintenance teams when battery life is low? How will the solution behave in the event of a power or internet outage? These are some of the questions that must be answered before choosing a deployment strategy or solution.

User experience is also an essential consideration. Residents prefer a mix of access methods, including both physical and digital. Physical keys or fobs are often faster and more accessible to residents, while apps offer greater functionality and a second means of access if a tenant forgets or loses their physical key or fob.

Properties must ensure that they have a physical override to ensure tenants can access their units in the event of a power or internet outage.

Properties must decide whether to make use of point solutions or integrate solutions into their existing property management solutions and workflows. MDUs face an increasingly complex technology landscape, with more solutions coming onto the market daily. Many properties are already overwhelmed by fragmented resident management tools and multiple logins. Integration into technology stacks, and/or support for single sign-on are increasingly important.

Disaster preparedness is also crucial for properties as they rely on technology for essential functions. Power and internet outages can be disruptive for tenants, particularly in communities with access control. Systems that lack manual overrides or resiliency may shut off in the event of outages, preventing tenants from entering or leaving their units or the community. These events can decrease resident satisfaction and increase resident turnover.

This is an excerpt from Parks Associates white paper Gating Access: Challenges in Multifamily Properties. This white paper examines the current state of access control adoption in the US multifamily housing market, looking at use cases, deployment models, best practices, and priorities when retrofitting versus deploying solutions in new construction.

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