Is Your Gated Community’s Entry System Digital Ready?
Network changes are pushing builders to upgrade, and communities are reaping great benefits from doing so.
Homeowners will generally pay more for the security of a gated community. That’s why it’s important to keep up with the latest technology starting with digital networks.
Gates are controlled by a telephone entry system, or TES. A visitor to the community's occupied area, or a delivery driver seeking access, will announce their arrival over an intercom at the gate. The homeowner can then open the gate with their phone.
While the TES's in many existing communities still use analog phone lines, large telecomm providers like AT&T and Verizon have been switching their networks over to digital-only. That makes a digital TES the only practical choice for a new community—after all, it’s not best practice to install an analog system today only to have to convert it to digital in two to five years.
The good news: There's nothing complicated about installing these systems. The digital, cloud-based TES's now coming on the market transfer voice and data over standard internet or fiber optic cables that are installed underground during land development.
Once the system goes live, access to gates and doors is via Wi-Fi-enabled controllers that the can be monitored and programmed remotely, using web-based software or a handheld app. The front gates can be left open during sales hours so buyers can visit the model homes, then closed at the end of the day for resident security. The gates at the construction area can be controlled and monitored 24/7 by the builder.
When the homeowners association takes control of the system (usually after 50 to 75% of the lots have been sold), the community managers will enjoy benefits not possible with analog systems. When a resident moves out of the community, managers can go online to instantly disable that resident's RFID or swipe card. They can also grant specific visitors access to amenities like the pool and fitness room for a defined period of time by simply programming their swipe cards, which can be done with a few taps on a keyboard or screen. The concept is the same as that of the key cards hotels issue to guests.
Digital, cloud-based systems also bring new diagnostic capabilities. If a controller stops communicating with a door or gate operator the system administrator will receive an alert, and the issue can often be resolved remotely. "We can call or email our dealer to get things fixed right away," says Anita Cosby, assistant manager at a 66-unit condo community in Virginia Beach that recently upgraded to a cloud-based digital TES. "It's so much easier than with the system we used to have."
Cloud-based systems' reporting capabilities bring even more benefits. Cosby found this out when someone broke into a unit about a month after the new system had been installed. An analysis of card use quickly identified the perpetrator. "By looking at the codes used and the times we were able to track it to a visitor in another unit."
This type of tracking ability only enhances the value that gated communities already offer.
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