In our previous condominium security system article, we demonstrated that there’s more to consider for a modern HOA security system than you may be aware. In this article, we explain the factors in choosing the right security systems for condominiums, and what your maintenance program should entail.
What condominium security features are best for your HOA?
In Condominium Security: an Investment in More Than You Think, we detailed the various features available in today’s security systems for condominiums. We recommend getting guidance on your specific needs from a couple different security system vendors. Then choose the vendor that feels right based on the following considerations. Also, watch for our upcoming article for detail on how to choose a vendor for condominium security cameras.
Your HOA’s specific needs
We interviewed Gus Calderone of Illinois Alarm Service to get more insight into what varying condo security and safety features different types of communities need. Each community’s condominium security needs vary depending on their specific property and people living there. Let’s look at four illustrations.
First, some communities have more foot traffic than others. That type of community will want to choose a high mega-pixel camera in order to identify individuals on foot via facial recognition.
Gus illustrates another scenario:
A retirement association might want medical pendants tied into the camera, and or security system for first responders.
Or, a condo association may want a two-way interactive camera and talk system that notifies the Central Station if someone is in their lobby past midnight for longer than two minutes. In this instance, the board sets the protocol they want. Protocol could be a recording notifying the individual they are being monitored, and that the police will be dispatched if they do not leave. Or, the board can opt to have the Central Station actually speak to the individual through the interactive security system.
Another example scenario is if an association does not have secured parking. The camera system can notify the Central Station when a resident has parked in their space, and one of the operators will watch the live video to be sure they get safely into their unit.
There is a careful balance between choosing a lower cost solution and ensuring that solution will be in your best interest. We can refer back to the high-foot traffic community to illustrate where choosing a lower cost option is nearly useless. We noted that higher mega pixel capability is needed for facial recognition. But, it costs more. Low amounts of foot traffic may merit a lower mega-pixel camera. But, let’s consider what happens if a board of a high-foot traffic HOA chooses the lowest bid for its condo security cameras. Soon, a crucial situation arises that needs facial recognition. They are unable to identify the individual caught on camera because the face and clothing details are blurry. They have spent less on their cameras, but are not much better off than if they were without cameras.
Another example is a condo with a security guard in the lobby. Did you know there are virtual guard features that may be more reliable and less expensive than having a guard?
The moral of the story is to understand why things cost what they do, and why a given feature is or isn’t important for your community. Evaluating multiple vendors will ensure you get as educated as possible to make the right choice.
A maintenance plan is crucial to getting a return on any HOA security investment. The company that installed your condo security features will handle maintenance and repair. Gus gives us a helpful illustration. Imagine the HOA invested into condominium security cameras and some time later the board decides to plant some trees. It never occurred to them that when the tree blossoms, it will cover the field of view of a camera monitoring the front door. But if their vendor comes out regularly, they will identify the issue and offer a solution.
When evaluating a maintenance program, consider the following features.
100% parts and labor guarantee
Look for 100% parts and labor guarantee for non-functioning devices. Plans vary in the level of “insurance” they include. We recommend at least ensuring coverage in the event the devices are vandalized.
All security systems for condominiums need some level of regular maintenance inspection. Depending on the system features, this may be monthly, annually, or somewhere in between. The plan may include:
- ensuring there is adequate storage for your data usage
- updating firmware or software to prevent system vulnerabilities
- cleaning camera lenses
- ensuring all your needs and requirements per your contract are met
- additional training for end users or management companies
In addition, your maintenance plan will likely include remote troubleshooting capabilities.
Watch for our upcoming article on types and brands of security systems for condominiums, and choosing a vendor.