HOA Security and Access Control — What to Consider

 

HOA-governed communities  — residential, condominium and townhome complexes — typically have several common areas like swimming pools, fitness centers, and clubhouses.

A private swimming pool run by a homeowners’ association is a very attractive amenity to current property owners and potential buyers. However, while they can be popular, pools create a number of liabilities for the association that need to be addressed to avoid safety and legal concerns. To retain the benefits that a pool brings to the community, the board of directors or association management will need to mitigate these risks of operating a pool by instituting proper safety measures.

There are basically four areas of risk to consider:

  • Someone getting hurt or drowning in the pool area
  • Chemical imbalances in the water that can cause illness
  • Overcrowding and unauthorized entry — people swimming during closed hours or unsupervised children and pets
  • Vandalism

Proper fencing and gating is the basic requirement to start addressing these concerns and is required by North Carolina State law. Check here for Wake County Pool Regulations: 

To control access, there are a couple of options available to HOAs ranging from mechanical coded lock systems, magnetic strip key cards to coded key fobs. Card and key fobs are top solutions to control swimming pool and fitness center access. Requiring proximity cards or badges to enter the pool gates keeps strangers or unattended children out while offering convenient access to members or residents. They can also be set up to open gates at specific times and coded so authorized personnel can review when keys are used for legal as well as illegal entry.

A perimeter fence and locked gate is a good start but will not always deter trespassers or vandalism and can’t help identify the perpetrators if this happens. So cameras are recommended to supplement fencing and gates.

Cameras serve two purposes. If they are openly visible to people entering your community, they will serve as a deterrent to vandalism and off-hours entry. They will also provide helpful evidence for prosecuting individuals caught in the act of committing crimes or in enforcing violations of an HOA’s governing documents. In addition, should the unfortunate situation arise of someone getting hurt or drowning, cameras offer the option to review the situation to ensure safety equipment was in place, and lifeguards and EMT followed protocol.

It is important to note that cameras are only effective if they are regularly maintained to ensure proper operation.

 

 Five Key Considerations when installing or upgrading pool surveillance cameras:

1) Fencing and camera line of sight

Angles and positioning are a major concern for which direction(s) you would like to aim the camera. Consider what type of zooming or panning capability you plan to employ in your surveillance. Be mindful of potential visual obstructions that could become a problem in terms of where the camera is positioned.

2) Height off the ground

If at all possible, cameras should be placed at least nine feet above the floor/ground, so that it will be more difficult for would-be intruders to tamper with them.

3) Image quality

Security Camera comparisonYour surveillance cameras should have “recognizable” image quality – could it be used to identify a suspect or clarify a situation?  

After all, what good is having video footage if you can’t use it when you need to? In addition to having the right camera, there needs to be enough lighting at night where the cameras are placed to produce usable images.

4) Camera angles

For example, a camera that is positioned in an area with seasonal trees could offer a clear view in the winter, but leavers may block the view in the summer. In addition, if you have a camera positioned to shoot into nighttime lighting or morning/evening sun, it could possibly hinder the camera’s field of vision for that span of time.

5) Hidden or Visible

When people (usually kids) want to “sneak into” a pool at night or commit vandalism,  they don’t want to be seen. Having the cameras visible and well out of reach seems to work well as a deterrent in the pool environment. Some HOA’s board prefer hidden cameras but at the end of the day, this is largely a matter of preference, and it’s up to the board to determine what they think will be the right move and at Secur-Tek we can help you through that decision.  

 

As you can see, there are quite a few important things for HOAs to consider when securing common areas. At Secur Tek, we can help HOA’s in the Triangle Area through the process of selecting and installing the right equipment given your situation, budget and homeowner requirements.  Give us a call at 919-387-1800.

 

Picture credit: www.versatech.co/analog-vs-hi-def-cameras/ 

 

 

Connect Amazon Echo to Control4 for Voice Activated Home Automation

It’s not Rosie, the Jetson’s robot maid. But the future envisioned decades ago is getting a little bit closer every day, especially when it comes to home automation. The latest example is the Amazon Echo.

The Amazon Echo is a small black device that sits in your room. Using voice commands, you can ask it questions about the weather or sports scores, have it order something for you on Amazon, play your music, and more. Just like iPhone has Siri, the Echo has a female voice answering to the name Alexa. One woman says she loves to play a version of 20 questions with Alexa.

By connecting Echo to other systems, you can do even more. One man figured out how to use Echo to pull his Tesla car out of the garage.

Home Automation

Customers often ask us about voice commands for home automation and this is the answer. The Echo connects to smart home devices such as Nest thermostats and the Control4 system so that you can use voice commands to control some of the home automation you have created. At Secur-Tek, we have set up the Echo to work with our Control4 systems so we can turn lights on when we arrive and off when we leave. We can also turn on a TV in our lobby and raise and lower the volume of our lobby music.

While these features are on a limited scale right now, more features are coming every day.

Security Warning

One feature some might consider is using the Echo’s voice command feature to turn your home security system on and off. While this is possible to set up, the Echo does not have individual voice recognition. That means if you set up this option, anyone could come in and tell Echo to turn off the security.

Many of the features offered by Echo you can set up on your own. However, Secur-Tek is happy to help you set up Echo with your Control4 system or other enhancements you request.

Rosie the robot maid may not greet you when you come home, but Alexa is the next best thing. Give us a call if you want to learn more about how we can prepare you for the future.

Business Security, Monitoring, and Customer Service

One Stop ShopSecur-Tek provides state-of-the-art business security and home automation services to residential and commercial customers in Apex, Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Chapel Hill, and central North Carolina. We provide commercial customers of all sizes with everything needed to minimize risks and keep businesses safe. You can focus on running your businesses while we provide the security expertise and systems you need. We can provide your business with fire protection systems, access control, burglar alarms, security cameras (CCTV and video), and background music.

Fire Protection – Alarms, Smoke, and Sprinkler Waterflow Detectors

Even if you have fire insurance, it’s far better to prevent a fire than to have one, make an insurance claim, and try to rebuild from the ashes. Many businesses never recover from a fire. You can get protected against total disaster with our fire code compliant fire detection systems. Manual pull fire alarms, supervised smoke detectors, and waterflow monitors all work together. Manual pull alarms are like the ones in many public buildings—once pulled the horns go off and the fire department is alerted. Supervised smoke detectors allow a fast response before the fire gets out of control. Water is a fire’s worst enemy but it’s not always your friend. Waterflow monitors minimize the water damage and flooding that happens when sprinklers go off; water can cause more damage than fire.

Access Control Systems

You can get access control systems to monitor your business. You can monitor your property (onsite or remotely) and employees and keep unwanted people from causing trouble. Locks with passcodes or keycards will let authorized people in and keep the bad guys out. Our software can be loaded onto the PC you already have. We have a wide variety of solutions and price points so let us know what you need and we’ll customize a solution just for you.

Burglar Alarms and Monitoring

Burglars are always a danger to your valuable inventory and business property. Our burglar alarms and systems let you know when someone is in the wrong place at the wrong time. You can get reports of exactly when your burglar alarm is armed and disarmed as well as who is accessing it. This is perfect for knowing when your business opens and closes. You’ll know if someone disarms the alarm late at night or before regular opening hours.

CCTV Security Cameras and Video Storage

Burglars aren’t the only source of theft. Shoplifters and even employees can be a major problem. Protecting yourself with camera monitoring is smart because it discourages theft; stealing is a lot less appealing to thieves if they know they’re being watched! Security footage is indispensable when you need evidence to show a judge. Camera evidence is hard to deny and will help to convict a thief and protect your business from theft, false claims, and other liabilities. We can set you up with 1 to 100 CCTV cameras, PC-based systems, and remote monitoring. One of our most popular packages is Honeywell’s 4-Camera Internet system—you can even monitor your business on your phone!

Business Background Music Source

Having a safe and secure business is important and it’s also key to provide an environment that makes customers want to spend money. Background music helps you control the mood and image of your business. We can supply all the relaxing and professional background music you need—perfect for offices and stores that need to convey professionalism.

To learn more about how your business can benefit from using security and home automation services, contact Secur-Tek at 919-387-1800.

Advantages of Having an Access Control System

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWikipedia defines access control as: the “selective restriction of access to a place or other resource.”

On-site security is extremely important. Whether it’s your business or the neighborhood’s community pool, no one wants unauthorized persons entering the property. With access control, you can help reduce the risk of unwanted visitors or even disgruntled former employees.

If you own a business or manage a property where people come and go, you might consider looking into having an access control system installed so that you can control, restrict or give authorization to specific people.

Why choose an Access Control System?

Access control systems are software-based and can offer a wide range of security solutions.

The access control system’s electronic key is harder to copy than the traditional metal key that one could bring to the local hardware store to duplicate. It would take a pretty tech-savvy person to copy a keycard. In addition, the keycard can be monitored. If it got lost or stolen, you have the ability to quickly and easily remove it from your system and issue a new card. As the system is computerized, you can access it from anywhere, anytime. The advantage here for businesses or property managers is that you don’t have to worry about someone making copies of keys and you don’t have to change locks when keys are lost.

Access control systems can keep track of employees’ comings and goings. You won’t need a separate time-clock. In addition, a few minutes of your time allows you to program keycards to authorize entry into only the areas designated per person. Gone are the days of having a ring full of keys for entry into different offices.

For more information on how to secure one of your most valuable assets—your business or property—with an access control system, contact Secur-Tek at 919-387-1800.