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Security and safety continue to be a priority for apartment building owners and property managers. Figures from the FBI indicate that victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3 billion in property losses in 2019, and burglaries of residential properties accounted for 62.8 percent of all burglary.
Apartment building owners and property managers need to protect their buildings, tenants and authorized visitors against risks posed by intruders, criminals or threats such as fire. That makes it essential to install and maintain effective, reliable apartment security systems such as commercial security camera systems and alarm systems for apartments that provide the highest level of protection for people and property.
Are multifamily residential security systems different from home security devices?
While security systems for multi-tenant buildings use similar hardware components and technologies to single-unit residential properties — cameras like pan-tilt-zoom security cameras, access control, alarms and software — the demands on apartment building security systems differ in scale and complexity.
Security systems for large apartment complexes must have the capacity to cope with larger numbers of occupants and visitors. They need the performance and reliability to continue to operate efficiently in different internal and external environmental conditions, and the functionality to support more complex management and integration requirements.
This guide to the best apartment security systems and alarm system for apartments provides information on the scope, requirements and technologies for securing properties and people, together with installation and management requirements.
Scope of security and alarm systems for multifamily and apartment buildings
Apartment building security systems are used to protect properties such as small or large apartment buildings, condos, luxury apartments and multi-unit gated properties.
In each apartment building there may be a number of different tenants or owners, each with a number of individual family members who may have to provide access to visitors, including friends, family and delivery drivers. In addition, contractors and service and maintenance staff may require access to different areas of the building.
Within an apartment complex security system, you’ll need components for shared and common areas. Consider the different requirements for interior spaces, such as an apartment building security system for lobby and mail room areas, which may range in size and have heavy foot traffic. An apartment building security system for amenities should be installed to provide secure access and visibility for gyms, pools, business centers and any common areas. Your complex may also need an apartment building elevator security system with elevator cameras, plus security for stairways and fire exits.
Outdoor spaces will need special attention, too. An apartment building security system for courtyards, pools, gardens and pet areas should be able to withstand severe weather impacting your area, without compromising safety or visibility.
To provide tenants and authorized visitors with convenient access to all of these areas, a security system for multi-tenant buildings must incorporate comprehensive coverage to monitor movement and detect incidents.
It must also provide a simple, safe and secure method for visitors to request access. The system must be easy to manage by security professionals on-site or remotely by property managers and other stakeholders.
Apartment complex alarm systems must be able to detect and notify teams to hazards such as fire, smoke or poor air quality throughout the building, including individual apartments and common areas. They should also be capable of detecting intrusion or damage to apartment building security doors, windows and other vulnerable access points.
Threats to multi-family and apartment building security
Security systems and apartment alarms for multi-unit apartment buildings must be capable of recording, detecting and alerting security professionals to many different types of incidents and threats, including:
Intruders may try to gain access to an apartment complex by forcing doors or windows, presenting false credentials at access control points or tailgating tenants or authorized visitors at entrances or elevators. Apartment building intrusion detection systems can alert security teams to potential incidents.
Leasing office vulnerability
Leasing offices can pose vulnerabilities, too. Tenant’s personal information held on a leasing office computer or file server may be accessible to intruders, particularly after hours and on weekends or holidays when offices are usually empty. As well as theft of personal data, there is a risk that extra keys, door permissions and video equipment may be compromised if an office is breached. With this in mind, apartment building leasing office security systems are important components of multi-unit physical security.
Intruders who have gained access can subsequently commit burglaries in communal areas and individual units, often with collateral damage to tenants’ doors, windows and property, as well as threats to tenants’ safety. Multifamily residential security solutions and alarms for apartments can provide security throughout the complex or building, offering another layer of security in addition to any devices installed within individual apartments.
If packages are delivered to a common area, either in a secured room or open space, they are vulnerable to theft. The popularity of online shopping has increased the volumes of package deliveries and the subsequent risk. Apartment building security for shared spaces can reduce the risk of theft, sending a clear message to potential package thieves that they are being monitored.
Vehicle damage and theft
Vehicles parked in unsupervised areas are at risk of damage and theft. Bicycles, scooters and other modes of transportation are also a common target for thieves. Apartment building garage security systems can deter criminals and intruders, as well as provide important evidence in the event of an incident or tenant complaint.
Fire and natural disasters
Multi-family security and alarm systems must be capable of detecting fire risks quickly before they cause property damage or threaten tenants’ safety. Apartment building smoke and fire alarms and sensors can provide an early warning and alert security teams, as well as notify tenants of potential danger.
In addition to apartment building fire and smoke sensors, security systems can assist in early detection of other natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, high winds or extreme temperatures.
Poor air quality
Air pollutants, such as carbon monoxide gas, can threaten tenants’ safety and health. Apartment building sensors and alarms can minimize risk by detecting pollutants before they create serious problems.
For non-smoking properties, smoke and vape detection sensors integrated with apartment building security for common areas can help ensure tenants are following community rules, too.
Components of a multifamily or apartment building security system
A number of important apartment building security components work together to provide comprehensive security for apartments and multifamily complexes. When planning a security system for multi-unit building installations, consider the following apartment building security checklist, reviewing the many components and how they function holistically to improve your security posturing.
Video security cameras
A security camera monitors vulnerable areas inside and outside apartment buildings to identify and record incidents or provide input to access control systems. On-site security professionals or concierges monitor and analyze the apartment complex security cameras’ feeds so that they can respond to any incidents.
Security cameras with cloud storage such as cloud 360-degree security cameras can send their feeds to the cloud via the Internet so that property managers and security management teams based in other locations can review video footage on a fixed desktop or, in some cases, their mobile phone.
A range of video surveillance technologies will provide enhanced security: outdoor-rated hardware, indoor security cameras and wide-angle garage security cameras. Consider also placing video security near ground-floor windows and doors, in common spaces, laundry rooms and stairwells.
Flexible apartment building video security coverage
The Pelco Sarix Professional 4 camera series provides superior durability and image quality, even in near-dark environments, to help you make the most of your apartment building security camera installation.
- Available in dome and bullet models to fit all your apartment building security needs
- Autofocus and adaptive IR technology provides sharp, detailed visibility in varying lighting conditions
- Equipped with Pelco Smart Analytics, powered by Motorola Solutions for enhanced object classification
- Rated for indoor and outdoor use, with excellent vandal resistance
- ONVIF compliant for seamless integration with your apartment building security systems
Access control systems
An integrated system of security cameras and access control for apartment buildings gives security teams greater control over building access. Visitors can enter by presenting credentials at a door reader or requesting access via an audio or video intercom at the entrance. Depending on the connection, access can be authorized by individual tenants or the security guards. This is why it’s important not to think of an apartment security system as a multifamily residential security guard alternative, but instead, as a compliment to your existing security structure.
Apartment building security system software can be used to manage cameras like fixed IP cameras and access equipment, as well as recording details of visitor access for audit and analysis. Security management software can also make it easy to onboard/offboard authorized users as tenants move in and out. Combined with an automated notification system, you can build and impose custom rules for specific security system triggers.
The management software system should be based on open-architecture standards so that it can support more security system integrations. For example, integrating video management software with other security systems compiles all security data and controls into a single dashboard, which can streamline management and strengthen security.
Apartment alarms: Systems and sensors
Fitting alarms and sensors to external doors and windows ensures that security teams receive immediate notifications of any attempt to break into the building. Smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detectors, sensors and alarms provide the vital smoke and fire safety that is paramount in apartment buildings.
These sensors and alarms are a vital security and safety feature in their own right, protecting tenants and the property. However, by selecting smart models that automatically send notifications via the Internet and integrating them into a holistic apartment building security and safety system, they can provide even greater protection.
For example, fire alarms can be integrated with access control lockdown systems to ensure safe exit for occupants in the event of an emergency. Temperature or water sensors can be programmed to notify teams of a potential hazard in spaces with low foot traffic, such as a leaking pipe. To increase the energy efficiency and sustainability of the property, sensors can be used to activate lights or HVAC systems in response to occupancy levels.
To strengthen security, video surveillance cameras in high-risk areas can be linked to motion sensors, which will ensure teams are notified of any suspicious activity. Door and window sensors can also be configured to detect gunshots or notify security if glass is broken or a door is left ajar or forced open.
Requirements for apartment building security systems and solutions
Comprehensive security. A security system for multi-unit buildings must ensure that all areas of the building are covered without inconveniencing tenants or intruding on their privacy. Apartment building intrusion detection systems, including security cameras and sensors, should prioritize coverage of vulnerable areas such as doors and windows, garages and car parks, mail and parcel delivery rooms, entrances, lobbies, elevators and amenity spaces which are often targets for criminals or intruders.
Stronger protection for luxury apartments. A security system for luxury apartments should incorporate features that reflect the increased value of the property, which also makes these buildings a likely target for burglars and other criminals. Tenants of luxury buildings also expect higher-end apartment security systems, and often view security as a top priority when choosing a place to live.
Effective operation in different environments. Video security for apartment building security must provide clear images while operating in different conditions. For example, cameras may be located in low-light areas or mounted in external areas where image quality could be affected by bright sunlight. These should also be suitable for night-time operation to ensure effective 24-hour recording.
Reliable safety alarm operation. Apartment complex alarm systems must provide reliable operation at all times with minimal maintenance requirements. They should feature automated notifications and alerts to ensure a rapid response and minimize risk to the large numbers of people in a multi-tenant building.
Discrete security. Apartment building security is essential, but it should not impact tenant or visitor experience. Security system installers should aim to make any camera deployments discrete by blending them where possible with the interior architecture of the building. However, external security cameras should be visible to act as a deterrent to intruders and criminals.
Capacity for high traffic levels. Multifamily residential security solutions must incorporate access control features with the capacity to handle large numbers of daily users and visitors. Robust locks, durable readers and reliable unlocking are essential, without sacrificing the security of the apartment complex. Condo building security systems should also incorporate secure and efficient delivery management systems to minimize the risk of package theft.
Comprehensive event recording and storage. Security systems for large apartment complexes must have the facilities to record and store images of visitors and activity in shared or common spaces, including time and date information. The recordings provide essential information in the event of a security breach. The data from recordings can also help property managers plan future capacity for security systems and tenant amenities.
Convenience for tenants and visitors. While protection is a priority, an apartment building security system must also be convenient and easy to use for tenants and visitors when they wish to access the building or specific areas protected by access systems.
The latest apartment building access solutions offer a choice of authentication methods. In addition to supporting mobile apps and RFID fobs, some intercom systems can also support voice or video authentication, some solutions allow tenants to provide pre-authorized visitors or delivery staff with PINs or QR codes that simplify access.
Simple security administration. Apartment complex alarm systems and security systems for large apartment complexes must be easy to manage from a single point. Security professionals should develop a centralized management system so that they provide consistent standards of security throughout the building. The management system should make it easy for security administrators to add or remove tenants and authorized visitors or change user permissions so that the management system remains up to date and secure.
A cloud-connected security system allows administrators to access video footage from any Internet-connected location or device. It also provides the scalability to accommodate increased volumes of data or feeds from additional security cameras. Cloud-connected security management software also allows administrators to manage the security system remotely, increasing operational flexibility.
Remote security operation. Security incidents can occur at any time of day or night, but it may not be possible to have security staff permanently on-site. In multi-tenant buildings, visitors can arrive at inconvenient times, or property managers may want to give contractors access after hours without having to remain on the premises. That makes it essential for apartment building security systems to support remote operation.
Cloud-connected access control and video systems enable remote teams to monitor security feeds or provide access to authorized visitors from any Internet-connected device, wherever they are located. Remote access can also help security professionals patrolling different parts of the apartment complex or investigating an incident by providing access to video on their mobile devices in real-time.
Regular maintenance and inspection. To ensure that security and alarm systems for condos continue to operate reliably, apartment building security solutions should include a maintenance and inspection contract. In multi-tenant apartments, this aspect of security is the responsibility of the owner or property manager. However, for condo building security systems, the individual property owners may have collective responsibility.
Interoperability. In a large complex building security system, it’s essential that all the components — cameras, sensors, alarms and access control systems — are interoperable and built to open standards. This simplifies management and allows centralized control, while enabling security teams to monitor all activity through a unified dashboard.
Security components built to open standards can also be integrated with other related systems, such as environmental controls, to create a smart property management solution, which can attract more tenants and increase property value.
Planning a security system for apartment or condo buildings
In a large multi-tenant apartment complex with large numbers of visitors, it’s important to select an apartment building security system and apartment complex alarm system that meets all the criteria outlined in the previous section. There are a number of factors to consider when planning and installing the system.
System scope and coverage
Before selecting a system, make sure that the network of security cameras has the capacity to provide coverage on all floors and points of vulnerability inside and outside the building. Carry out a survey to calculate the number of doors and windows to be covered and the location of fire, smoke and carbon monoxide sensors and alarms.
To identify access control requirements, map out main entrances and exits, as well as access points to vulnerable areas. Don’t forget to scope out the apartment building security system for gym, mail room and pool areas, too. An apartment building security system for pools and gyms can help reduce incidents of theft and property damage, and provide management valuable insights into peak hours and occupancy levels to optimize access requirements.
Carrying out an accurate survey for an apartment or condo building security system can be difficult and time consuming. A professional security system installer can provide recommendations catered to your unique building and property.
Cameras, alarms, sensors and access control components should be selected on the basis of performance and reliability. They should also comply with any industry standards or local regulations that apply.
Professional installation is recommended to ensure your apartment building security devices are deployed and configured correctly. In some cases, components may need to be flush-mounted or hard-wired, so project budgets should take account of the additional work required.
Any external components should be weatherproof to IP65 and tamper-proof to recognized standards to minimize the risk of damage.
Power and connectivity
Security cameras, sensors, alarms, access control components such as readers, intercoms and electronic locks require a power source and a form of connectivity to link them to the management system and security camera recorders.
These system components can be powered in two ways: by cabling to each component or by Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) technology via a security and access control data network. Determining the right security camera wiring types and nstalling power cables to each component can be expensive and may be difficult in certain areas of the apartment building.
Supplying power and connectivity over a data network can simplify cabling because only one cable is required. Some IP sensors and alarms can also transmit signals and video feeds wirelessly, however the wireless network must provide the bandwidth and reach to support consistent communication throughout the building.
The infrastructure to store data from IP cameras (instead of analog cameras), sensors and access control systems can be located in the apartment building or hosted in the cloud.
On-site infrastructure takes up space and requires constant management, maintenance and upgrading. However, it allows property managers to maintain full control and visibility over their apartment building security system storage.
Cloud hosting frees up space in the apartment building and provides scalable storage capacity which can be accessed by security professionals, property managers and other stakeholders from any location. This increases operational flexibility and supports remote security monitoring and management. The third-party hosting company manages, maintains and updates the system, reducing the support burden on security teams.
Integrating a security system for apartment buildings with other applications such as a security alarm for apartments, intrusion detection system, delivery management, visitor management, access control and building management systems adds value to the security investment and enables centralized control of all property management functions.
Maintenance and upgrading
As well as planning the initial installation, it’s important to consider future maintenance and system upgrades. Regular proactive maintenance will ensure that the security and access control system continue to provide the highest levels of security. Software upgrades are essential to ensure the system can optimize protection for emerging vulnerabilities, and take advantage of the latest developments in property security technology.
Benefits of multifamily residential security solutions
Improved property value
Implementing a comprehensive security system for multi-tenant buildings provides an important differentiator when renters are looking for a home, which can help owners achieve higher rental or resale values. Plus, a multifamily residential security solution can help reduce the costs associated with security incidents, such as repairing damages to the property, insurance premiums and legal fees.
Enhanced experience for tenants
Tenants feel more secure when they are confident their property and safety are fully protected. This can help attract and retain more tenants, maintaining rental income flow and reducing the costs of advertising and onboarding new tenants.
Greater security against intrusion
Integrated apartment building security systems enable security teams to keep track of visitors, visually verify authorized individuals, and maintain a record of entry activity for compliance or analysis in the event of an incident.
Apartment building intrusion detection sensors and alarms with automated notifications provide immediate alerts to security teams, enabling rapid response to minimize risk to tenants and property.
Enhanced visitor experience
Incorporating the latest access control and video technologies in the security system for multi-tenant buildings improves convenience for friends visiting tenants. Visitors can be pre-authorized, use video intercom systems or touchless devices to request access. As well as improving convenience for visitors, this also increases tenant satisfaction.
Improved delivery management
Tenants in apartment buildings and residents in condos are receiving a growing number of deliveries, and the rapid uptake of online ordering and services such as food and grocery delivery are increasing courier frequency even further.
Security systems for multi-unit buildings and condos integrated with access control and delivery management systems can help ensure that couriers can make deliveries smoothly and securely. For regular deliveries, security teams can issue couriers with PINs they can use to access the building without making separate requests each time. They can also provide delivery rooms covered by access control systems and security cameras where couriers can leave packages for collection.
Smarter property management
A cloud-connected apartment building security system is an integral element of a smart property management solution. The video security and alarm systems can be integrated with access control solutions to provide consistent building-wide security that can be centrally managed from the cloud.
Integrating the security system with building management systems makes it possible to synchronize lighting and other environmental factors with building zone occupancy, helping reduce costs and improve energy efficiency.
Many luxury apartment building security systems are also now connected to tenant apps, where renters and condo owners can reserve amenities, submit service requests and remotely access their apartment units.
Which is the right apartment complex security system for your property?
Security systems for apartment buildings are not just a method of securing property; they make an important contribution to the quality of tenant experience, increase the value of the property and improve convenience for visitors. They also form an important element of smart building management systems, helping to reduce costs and increase energy efficiency.
Security professionals, apartment owners and property managers take many different factors into consideration when planning a security system for a multi-unit building. The ideal apartment building security technology solution should maximize security to prevent loss, damage or other issues while maintaining an environment that ensures better tenant retention and attracts new tenants to the property.
The best security systems for small apartment buildings, large apartment buildings, condos, or luxury apartments integrate various apartment building security features seamlessly. Consider apartment building intrusion detection technology, alarms for apartments such as network multifamily alarms or a condo alarm system, video security cameras and other apartment building security devices.
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