Reaching To The Clouds

New Jersey-based real estate agency increases safety, security and saves money by installing an integrated cloud-based security solution

Century 21 Action Plus Realty is one of New Jersey’s premiere real estate agencies, employing more than 250 sales professionals. The company has seven locations covering Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex and Mercer Counties. The agency has built its success on serving their clients through integrity, professionalism and commitment to quality service. It also recognizes that buying or selling a home or property can represent one of life’s biggest decisions and that perspective clients are looking for a real estate agent that they can trust, is well versed with the community and keeps their best interest top of mind.

For Tom Hogan, president and owner of Century 21 Action Plus Realty, attracting and retaining the best and the brightest agents in the business is key to his agency’s future. He goes to great lengths to support his team of independent sales professionals with the best resources and on-going training programs.

SECURE WORKING ENVIRONMENT

These programs are designed to enhance his agents’ knowledge of the latest real estate, industry and financial services available. Hogan also operates a customer service center where operators handle incoming calls and quickly and efficiently distribute inquiries to the real estate agents for prompt follow-up. Most importantly, providing a safe and secure working environment for his agents and clientele is one of his top priorities.

Century 21 Action Plus Realty’s locations were secured by an outdated access control system that had limited capabilities and was hard to administer, time consuming and costly. Changes to open and close schedules had to be made from a single, dedicated computer located in one of the offices. This required an individual with administrative rights to travel to the site to re-program the system or lock or unlock doors to accommodate changing business requirements.

As with many real estate agencies, Hogan experiences high turnover of associates and contractors, making it difficult to retrieve issued access cards, disable them or replace those that were misplaced or lost. Agents also shared cards, which made securing the premises even more difficult. Finally, the system did not provide any auditing, reporting or integration with video capabilities and updates to the existing software were unavailable, leaving the system exposed to potential hackers.

“The system was not very nimble,” Hogan said. “If we needed to remotely lock the door during the business week, it was a big process and could only be done through one stationary computer.”

The current security system could no longer meet the needs of this growing and prosperous real estate agency.

Looking for a better solution, Hogan engaged Protection 1 to explore alternate means of securing his operations. He was looking for the latest in cloud-based access control systems that could be integrated with advanced IP-video technologies.

Protection 1, working closely with its technology partners Brivo and Eagle Eye Networks, designed a new comprehensive system that could deliver the capabilities that Hogan was looking for in a costeffective solution.

The access control system was built on the Brivo OnAir platform. This platform is cloud-based, eliminating the need for local servers and software. This approach also eliminates the need for fixed capital expenses and maintenance costs to maintain an on-site, server-based system. Brivo OnAir is a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution. With SaaS models, software updates and patches are automatically delivered ensuring the site is secure from the latest threats.

To address Hogan’s concern as it related to administering the old access control system, Brivo OnAir gives him the ability to remotely manage and control his physical security at all sites from a secure connection to any desktop, tablet or smartphone – from anywhere. The system also provides for real-time alerts of critical events via email or text and ensures compliance through customized security reports. These reports are automatically delivered via email on a predetermined schedule.

As part of his new security solution, Hogan has also installed approximately seven new IP-video cameras at each of his location that are fully integrated with the access control system. With this new capability, he is able to monitor live video streams or review clips linked to important events. More importantly, the integration of the access control and video is a completely cloud based solution, allowing for total flexibility right down to a specific camera in terms of storing video in the cloud or on premise. Cameras are placed both inside the offices to monitor areas like stairwells and outside for a view of the entrance and parking lots.

The Eagle Eye Cloud VMS also separates the cameras from the Internet onto an isolated, protected network so they can’t be compromised or used maliciously. Furthermore, the Eagle Eye Bridges are actively managed devices, which get firmware updates without having to send someone on-site. This allows for security patches and general updates to be deployed in a timely manner.

Century 21 Action Plus Realty has also adopted Brivo Mobile Pass for credentialing. It allows users to access secure areas through an application on their mobile devices, eliminating the need for physical keycards. The application provides a simple process to activate and deactivate access privileges, is extremely easy to use and requires no special hardware. It also solves the problems of lost or misplaced cards and card sharing.

In all locations, Protection 1 has also added several silent panic buttons and motion detectors that are monitored at Protection 1’s central station and can be integrated with the video footage. In the event a panic button is activated, Protection 1 is instructed to dispatch local law enforcement.

ACCESS EVERYWHERE

Tom Hogan now has a single, standardized access control system across all seven of his Century 21 Action Plus offices that help address safety concerns and improve operational efficiencies. The new system gives him the ability to view real-time activity logs to better understand who is coming and going in each of his locations.

The cloud-based system helps minimize on-site hardware requirements and the associated cost for maintaining them. Door scheduling for all offices can be done with a few quick clicks and changes can be made remotely. And a single browser interface controls both the access control and video systems.

With Mobile Pass, Century 21 Action Plus is able to eliminate the need to track cards and fobs and has streamlined the process for issuing and revoking credentials.

The new video solution allows for customized views and remotely monitors all locations. As an example, one layout allows Hogan to see all of his parking lots on a single screen whether it’s a desktop, tablet or mobile phone. This flexibility will assist in such things as determining if parking lots have been plowed after a snowstorm and whether an office should be closed for the day or delay opening. It can also be used to provide documented evidence of potentially fraudulent activities on his property.

Hogan is now able to monitor his offices to ensure they are fully staffed particularly as it relates to his customer service operations. Finally, through the use of the new video system, he has the ability to provide video escorts for employees and agents who are uncomfortable entering or leaving the offices alone.

“My new security system did much more at less cost per user,” Hogan said. “The ability to change when doors are locked on a bad weather day or to remove a repairman’s access to the building when a job was complete was the flexibility we needed. The system is very easy to use and the support is fantastic.”

This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Security Today.

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