The Changing Role of Security in High-end Residential Communities

The Changing Role of Security in High-end Residential Communities

The Changing Role of Security in High-end Residential CommunitiesLooking at today's headlines, alarming incidents fill the news every day. These threats, whether real or perceived, have created heightened security concerns across the country. It's no wonder the demand for high-end security services is on the rise.

Not surprisingly, private residential communities and homeowner associations seem to be outpacing all other sectors when it comes to the demand for advanced security services. They provide their own security and have more sophisticated security needs than they have in the past.

In exclusive residential settings, the number one concern is still safety and security. But, there also must be a welcoming, friendly environment for residents, families, and visitors. And there must be an element of concierge-like specialty services. It’s a careful balance that must be maintained through a strong focus on customer service and response, trained and professional personnel, and comprehensive security offerings.

Today's private residential clients are more informed, knowledgeable, and tech savvy than in the past. They expect sophisticated security solutions that are comprehensive and provide an integrated mix of prevention, intervention, response, and life-safety. And, they want smart solutions with all the technological bells and whistles.

These dynamics have dramatically changed the role of security providers today. Successful companies must work in step with the communities they protect, collaborate with their clients, and become a trusted, respected, and innovative partner.

Emerging Needs and Expectations

As the economy rebounds, clients are able to shift their focus from fiscal uncertainty to security concerns. These clients are more willing to pay for high-end services and technologies to protect their private residences. And, elite and lifestyle communities have unique needs such as public waterways, open perimeters, multiple gatehouses, and other areas that need increased access control.

The economy and an aging population is also changing residential living models. More and more high-end communities exclusively for 55 and older adults are popping up. These popular retirement community alternatives have created an increased interest in integrated emergency medical services.

Innovations in Security

To better meet the requirements of higher end residential clients, security companies need to leverage the latest advances in security technology. Today’s technology must-haves include:

Comprehensive access control: An integral part of a security system for exclusive gated and guarded communities is access control. These state-of-the-art systems reduce vehicular traffic and make sure only authorized people are able to gain entry into the community. Commonly used access technology includes biometric readers, key pads and fobs, access cards, intercoms, and radio transmitters. These provide even more security when paired with other technologies such as video surveillance, automated security management, and electronic visitor management.

Electronic visitor management: One technology that is critical today is advanced visitor management systems. These provide front line protection in identifying, controlling, and tracking individuals gaining access to the community. These systems use state-of-the-art technology to rapidly identify, capture a photograph of, and log community visitors and vendors, as well as cross-check criminal, sex offender, and internal watch lists. This can greatly increase a security team's ability to quickly identify and stop potential security threats. These systems integrate seamlessly with access control systems and emerging hardware such as biometric devices, as well as comply with visitor and contractor accountability regulations.

Automated security management: This smart solution incorporates wireless, GPS, and cloud-based technology to streamline and integrate all aspects of a community's security system into a single point of action. A web-based dashboard provides a command center that gives security directors a full picture of what is happening in the community 24/7/365. This allows them to know the location of all on duty personnel and stay connected to them in real time. The dashboard is used to efficiently manage all incoming calls and track incident reports to ensure response is as quick and efficient as possible. Mobile units know exactly where to go and when via their iPad or smartphone.

This technology also dates and time-stamps every action and automatically compiles a digital log of all security activity. This is essential for accurate reporting and financial analysis and community accountability.

Interactive remote video monitoring: This technology allows security companies to remotely monitor cameras to interact with residents in real time. For example, residents are able to call a number and the security company can look at the ID through the camera and open up a gate. This is a nice concierge level service that high-end clients are coming to expect.

Video surveillance monitoring: Live video monitoring of perimeters is a proactive way to protect a community from crime and other threats. Surveillance cameras, along with motion detectors, and infrared sensors, enhance guard patrols and allow security directors to have a pulse on the entire community at all times.

Specialized Competitive Differentiators

Innovative providers will employ technology to guard against intrusion, fire, and environmental hazards. But they will also provide convenience features and specialized services specifically for lifestyle and exclusive residential environments. These competitive differentiators can include:

Maritime patrol: Many private communities have waterfront homes, docks, piers, and boathouses. However, most waterways are public, meaning anyone has immediate access to the community. These access points must be patrolled and secured, protecting the communities from unwanted individuals entering this way. Through video surveillance and boat patrols, high-end security companies can better protect the community from intruders and potential threats. A successful company will be knowledgeable of the state's maritime laws, property regulations, boater safety, and other emergency procedures. 

K-9 units: Most contract security companies offer mobile patrols for increased vigilance. However, to augment these security services, high-end companies are adding K-9 patrols and detection services. K-9 officers are expertly trained and have keen senses that add an effective and efficient layer of security. K-9 officers provide an excellent visual deterrent to crime and increase community awareness, and are a less-lethal alternative to firearms.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS): As mentioned, as the baby boomers get older, emergency medical services are in demand. To compete, security companies must now integrate medical first responder, paramedic, and CPR/AED offerings to their portfolios. Often, security personnel are the first to spot and respond to a medical emergency in the community. When they are EMT trained, they can call 911 and then begin providing immediate life-saving care while waiting for help to arrive.

Special forces: Today's security professionals have to be ready for anything. That's why the top security companies are employing men and women with prior military and police experience. Trained in stealth tactics, lethal and non-lethal weapons, and a host of anti-intrusion equipment and practices, they are more than just guards, they are highly experienced and diverse professionals who can adapt and act in any situation.

Snapshot of Success

ABM’s security division has been providing elite security work for high-end residential communities for many years. An example is at PGA National, an exclusive community of 5,500 homes, five golf courses and eight gatehouses on just over 2,300 acres in Palm Beach County, FL. This facility is home to the Honda Golf Classic every year.

Open to the public during the day, the community's board wanted a provider who could better leverage technology to help ensure complete accountability of all guest vehicles entering the property.

Through its elite protection program, ABM implemented an integrated, state-of-the-art visitor management platform that included automated incident report management and a tag recognition camera system. The solution allowed for timely visitor transactions at the gate, incident tracking, as well as created a database of vehicle traffic that was archived by license plate and cross-referenced with the access system.

About the Author

Christopher Hansen is president at ABM Security, working in Houston, Texas.

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