American Security Systems Featured in The CooperatorThe Cooperator is the newpaper of choice for co-op and condominium boards and managing agents. Within this select circle, the topic of security is a frequent focus. In a recent article, entitled Staying Secure,Cooperator writer Keith Loria noted;
Recent nationwide crime statistics show that New York City and its outlying suburbs has become one of the safest cities of its size in the past 15 years. Nevertheless, in a sprawling metropolitan area encompassing New York and New Jersey, security is always a concern.
“People are either interested in security or they’re not. There are plenty of options out there for a condo or co-op to better protect their building,” says Harry Squasoni, senior vice president of American Security Systems, based in Long Island City. “Most buildings still have keys, which is the worst security alive. Keys go to girlfriends, boyfriends, contractors…you have no idea who has keys to your building.”
As technology has advanced, security system options for multifamily buildings and homeowner associations have broadened as well. The key is getting boards and management companies to institute the changes. Boards and managers need to do their due diligence to determine what will work best for their building and decide if the security improvements won’t soon become obsolete.Loria went on to quote various competitors to American Security Systems, all of whom had valuable information to share.
“When management companies select a security system, they should consider one that’s upgradeable, modular and easily fixed,” said a manufacturer and designer of security hardware, “I believe the best option for residential managers and board presidents are systems that give them what they need—and not necessarily all the ‘bells and whistles.”
However, with technology today evolving so fast, and people ever more connected to their cell phones and text messages, it’s important to have a technically sophisticated product that can handle the needs of this rapidly moving environment.
CCTV, which has been around for decades, has taken on an important role in both new construction and existing buildings.
“With advances in software, CCTV cameras can now be viewed remotely by management companies and superintendents in different locations,” the manufacturer continued. “HD cameras have enhanced picture quality and detection methods and can be integrated with real-time video. We have had situations in which the police have called us asking to review our DVRs in order to help them detect possible robbers.”
Security cameras have improved greatly over the last two decades with the benefits of installing a state-of-the-art security system being that they provide privacy, security and convenience to residents.Loria, quoting the manufacturer again, revealed, that many residential security systems were still using cameras that were installed more than 25 years ago, and those systems are still installed in many of our luxury high-rises, in spite of the fact that the manufacturer acknowledges that his systems have evolved to incorporate many upgrades. Loria substantiated, however, that the cost of upgrading to the latest technology was not prohibitive:
Even in this tough economic environment, buildings with top-line security systems are much more attractive to potential buyers. Costs vary, but for a combined video intercom and alarm system, the material cost is about $600 to $800 per apartment, extremely cost effective when you consider the system is running 24/7 and 365 days a year.The most surprising information in the Cooperator article involved an exciting innovation in security that started in New York City -
The Video Doorman
The advent of video doorman technology has changed the way that many co-ops and condos run their day-to-day operations when it comes to security, as an off-site concierge accomplishes remotely some of the functions of a real doorman.
“When deliverymen press the button on an outside call panel, they are seen by trained central station operators elsewhere,” The manufacturer said, “Through a series of cameras and speakerphones, which are installed in building hallways, the deliverymen are ‘watched’ as they drop off parcels, and eventually leave the premises. It is a great service for buildings that are doormen-free.”
It’s not only deliveries that the video doormen are used for. They also provide residents with a greater sense of safety and security. Since someone is always there if needed, an operator can help someone coming home late get to their door without the fear or trepidation of having someone follow them.
“It’s security with a live interface,” says Larry Dolin, president of Manhattan-based American Security Systems,
Inc., which has trademarked the name, “Video Doorman” for its service. “It’s not there to be intrusive. If you don’t want to be bothered, then don’t press the button. But if a young woman is coming back from a date and wants to know that she is safe, the system can monitor her all the way until she gets inside her door.”
The company recently introduced its “Video Doorman Safe Lobby” surveillance system, targeted at middle and lower income affordable housing.
“It’s interactive and proactive,” says Squasoni. “Research shows that 95 percent of problems start at the point of entry. With Video Doorman Safe Lobby, we have cameras and mikes in the lobby and if someone is loitering, it triggers a connection to our central station and an operator will warn them to leave or we will dispatch the police. People don’t like being filmed and having someone talk to them, so they will generally leave.”
Only in its first year, the system will also trigger contact if someone forces the front door open, if the door is left ajar or if strangers are hanging out in the stairwells.
“There’s also latch-key kid notification,” Squasoni says. “When children come home, they use an access control card and we notify their parents that they are safely home.”
The Video Doorman and/or Video Doorman Safe Lobby systems are perfect for those buildings that can’t afford a doorman, as it costs approximately 10 percent of what operating a 24-hour human doorman service would. A system that runs continually and relies on power and the Internet will have occasional outages or breakdowns and can need repairs. Luckily, most usually aren’t serious and can be quickly fixed.
Sometimes, the video can go down, the audio needs to be louder or a new camera needs to be installed. Maintaining a system is the key to keeping it functioning properly.
“When our repairmen go to buildings that have our systems installed, they don’t just check individual apartments, they check the entire riser system and concierge station, to make sure everything is working properly,” the hardware manufacturer says.