When you think about smart buildings and smart technology, you probably picture a shiny, sleek new building outfitted with the latest technology. But this doesn’t need to be the case all the time.
In 2050, an estimated two-thirds of the commercial properties that exist today will still be standing. So, there will always be the need to retrofit older buildings to adopt new technologies, including access control systems.
Since the advent of smartphones in the early 2000s, access control technologies have significantly improved. In 2021, keys are a thing of the past; people worldwide now use their smartphones to open doors and gates for themselves and their guests.
Why you should retrofit smart access technology to older buildings
With legacy security systems, you have to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars configuring wiring throughout the building. But with wireless access control systems, all those worries and complications vanish. Modern technology is smart enough to accommodate all kinds of infrastructure. The secret? Its simplicity.
Today’s Internet of Things (IoT) access control devices operate on the cloud, eliminating the need for extensive wiring. As a result, installation — which is often the biggest barrier for commercial properties considering upgrading their access control system — is a breeze.
Not only will a modern access control system simplify property access for building tenants, but it will also lower operating costs and free up property staff’s time. Staff no longer need to waste time manually updating user permissions or issuing key cards or fobs. The new system automates the access credentialing process and enables tenants to use their smartphones to access the building and the spaces within.
Additionally, wireless access control systems empower tenants to grant property access to their guests without going through building staff. Both commercial and residential tenants can send guest passes — often in the form of QR codes or PIN codes — to their visitors, whether it’s friends, family, business associates, delivery people or clients visiting them.
How to retrofit modern access control systems into existing buildings
While it’s true that every building is different, some essential steps apply to retrofitting access technology to nearly all older buildings.
Establish a robust building-wide WiFi connection: Establishing a reliable wireless internet connection is the first step to enabling cloud-based access control at your building. If your building is big, consider installing multiple WiFi points or extenders throughout the property. A strong internet connection ensures that your access control system is a reliable part of your IoT network, communicating with other devices on the internet. This is especially important for enabling smartphone-based access control.
Choose a wireless, cloud-based access control system: Cloud-based access control systems store data on the cloud instead of an onsite server. With a cloud-based system, all data is automatically updated and backed up. Additionally, building admins can manage the system and update access permissions from anywhere with an internet connection. Most importantly, cloud-based systems eliminate the need for extensive wiring throughout the building.
Hire a certified installer: The process of installing an access control system depends on your building, particularly its age. But regardless, hiring an accredited installer is the best way to ensure a flawless installation.
Install door release mechanisms: Door release devices communicate with the access control panel. Once an authorized user taps or swipes to open the door from their phone, the control panel then sends a signal to the door release mechanism and unlocks the door. To facilitate a touchless entry experience, consider also installing an automatic door opener, which opens the door once the lock is released.
Onboard tenants and staff onto the new system: Last but not least, onboard building tenants and staff and train them to use the new access control system. This typically entails having them download a mobile app after they’ve been registered with the system. Offer tenants and staff training materials so they make the most of the new system.
Many modern access control systems can also integrate with property management systems and office workflow programs. So, everyone on the rent roll or employee roster will automatically be added to your access control system.
This article originally ran in Security, a twice-monthly security-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security Magazine. Subscribe here.