What you should know about security as a property manager

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If you’re a building manager, then you know the job comes with many responsibilities. Looking after a structure of any kind is a complex and demanding task. Property and building managers spend a lot of time and effort to minimize risk, ensure accessibility, and promote safety, even though many events and incidents don’t tend to follow regular business hours. The more you can cut down on the property management workload to ensure the building is running smoothly, the better.

One of the most critical responsibilities for any building manager is security. Burglary isn’t something any business wants to encounter. Unfortunately, crime statistics say thousands of Americans are affected by burglary each year. The FBI reported 1,401,840 burglaries in 2017, generating an estimated $3.4 billion in property losses, and only 67% of offenses happened at residential premises. Ensuring that your commercial security solutions integrate with your property management software can be the difference between a costly incident, and a safe, secure building. 

Types of burglaries at commercial properties

No matter how much effort a building manager makes, some burglary is inevitable. During 2017, across all US states, the incidents numbered nearly 1.5 million. However, a closer look at the FBI’s statistics for breaking and entering provides a clue as to the rising popularity of cloud-based property management software and access control systems. Of all the break-ins during those twelve months, 57% got classed as forcible entry, 36% were unlawful entry, with the remaining 6% reported as an attempted forcible entry.

So, what does that mean for building managers? In order to answer that question, it’s useful to know why a police officer attending the scene of a burglary uses the three different legal terms to report:

Attempted forcible entry

As you might expect, attempted forcible entry refers to incidents that get abandoned or interrupted. It’s when a perpetrator starts to force open a door or window, for example, but never finishes off the job and doesn’t gain entry. That term gets used whether or not the offender is still on-site when officers arrive – and whether or not anyone ever gets apprehended.

Forcible entry

Forcible entry is also pretty self-explanatory. Law enforcement officers use the term ‘Burglary—Forcible Entry’ for all offenses where force gets used to enter a building unlawfully with the intent of committing a theft. A common scenario would be a burglar breaking an office window or door, or forcing an entry point with a crowbar or some other tool. The term also applies if the offender gains access to a master key or picks a lock. Forcible entry makes up just over half of all US break-ins – but that’s not the whole story.

Unlawful entry

So, what about unlawful entry, and why should building managers be so concerned that it makes up 36% of US burglaries? Unlawful entry includes incidents where offenders enter a structure or building through an unlocked door – or in any way other than breaking or picking a lock. That can consist of thefts from common areas like communal gyms in residential buildings, office parking lots, and even lobbies. Unlawful entry, crucially, also includes incidents involving deception. For instance, a great example of an offense like this would be if a thief entered a retail building posing as a cleaner, or tailgating an employee entering an office building.

Cloud-based property management software and access control systems can help deter unlawful entry. With on-site property management software, the team must be present to monitor and respond to security threats, and there are limited remote features. However, with commercial property management software that runs in the cloud, building managers have 24/7 visibility and better control over who is accessing the building. Cloud-based property management software can also alert building managers to incidents in real-time, which enables the team to respond more quickly and accurately to possible intrusions, minimizing damages.

COVID-19 brings higher unlawful entry risks

An empty building is a sitting duck for criminals. However, short of installing better lighting and CCTV equipment, and encouraging apartment tenants to invest in home insurance, it’s hard to improve protection against forcible and attempted forcible entry. Even employing physical security tactics like surveillance and access control can’t prevent all crime. But when you can’t tend to a building because of restrictions on movement like during the pandemic, the risk of unlawful entry offenses is heightened, too. That’s because it’s far more difficult to ascertain who’s got a bonafide reason to enter your building – and who doesn’t – when you’re not there.

Notably, some studies carried out after March 2020 found a discrepancy in how crime figures behaved amid “shelter in place” orders. In Los Angeles, for example, one study saw drops in robbery, shoplifting, and battery. However, vehicle theft, burglary, and assault remained pretty much unchanged. A study in Detroit found ascertained:

“In terms of the current research, areas with mixed land use provide more convenient burglary targets because commercial properties are less supervised by employees or customers and more readily subject to risk of burglary. At the same time, residential targets are more occupied and less available for attack.”

Even though commercial properties are at higher risk during the pandemic, residential communities are also on high alert. Apartment property management software is key to restricting access as needed to community amenities and parking garages, and managing occupancy in communal areas like lobbies.

Cloud-based access software and COVID-19

There’s no way around it; COVID-19 hasn't made providing security any easier for building managers. Restrictions on movement have been widespread during the pandemic, and many businesses and offices have been emptier during lockdowns. It’s hard to maintain a sufficient level of security without being on-site, and providing access when it’s genuinely needed on top of that can prove impossible under the restrictions.

So, how can technology help building managers provide security without impacting convenience? Cloud-based property management software is an excellent solution for forward-thinking building managers. One of the main benefits of this technology is that many of the day-to-day building management tasks can be done remotely.

Issuing or revoking access can easily be done via online property management software, without having to meet in person to hand over a badge. In addition, cloud-based commercial property management software gives security teams more control over building access permissions, without having to be present to make the changes. Some software also comes equipped with enhanced safety features like video surveillance integrations, real-time reporting, and sitewide lockdowns that can be activated from any authorized device.

The pandemic might indeed have hastened the need for and spread of cloud-based property management software, but the fact is, the tech was getting more popular before the virus ever hit. With increased control, visibility, and ROI, it’s easy to see why this new technology is gaining traction on legacy on-site property management software and systems.

Future-proofing your commercial property management software with Openpath

Almost every sector and industry has been affected by COVID-19. Almost universally, businesses are prepping for a “new normal” for how we access and use our commercial spaces – and that applies to building management too. Whether we’re talking access and security or office workers telecommuting, the fact is, many of the changes happening now involve performing tasks remotely. And the forecast is that they are here to stay.

Openpath’s cloud-based property management software and access control systems allow fully secure management from anywhere. There’s no longer a need to be onsite or even at a dedicated computer to manage daily operations. Building managers can create alerts to be notified of entry events just as a forced entry, door left ajar, or failed authorization. Because Openpath runs on a completely open platform, building managers can also take advantage of integrations to automate processes on the cloud-based property management software across their entire property.

Mobile credentials are another way to future-proof your building management. Openpath’s mobile-based system lets you conveniently use a smartphone or Apple watch to unlock doors, eliminating cumbersome and risky badges or traditional keys. The mobile app credentials are available for both iOS and Android, and can work simultaneously with encrypted key cards or fobs, with every user managed directly in the commercial property management software. When it comes to visitors and access, you can quickly create guest passes, which allow you to text a one-time-key – and there’s no need for them to download an app.

Because Openpath access control software is cloud-based, you avoid scalability issues or the hassle of upgrading servers when your business, locations, or premises grow. It’s common for organizations to hire entire security teams to manage each location or site. With Openpath’s cloud-based system, one person can handle the job that it would take 10 people to do with an on-site property management system. In a post-COVID world that demands remote operation, control, and property management systems, Openpath gives building managers a completely future-proof solution.