Condo Association Access Control System Case Study: Metro Crossing

Just The Facts:

Customer: Norwood Junction at Metro Crossing, a luxury condominium housing development in Fremont, California.

Challenge: Improving access control to five tenant buildings and underground parking garages.

Solution: Developing a wireless access control solution that uses a mobile app to enable residents to come and go.

Results: Easy access to the buildings for residents and greater security for the entire complex overall.

Metro Crossings Fremont California Access Control System Case Study

Customer Challenge

Norwood Junction, a housing community in Fremont, California, embodies the essence of simple yet refined living. 

The development envelopes residents in luxury, giving them access to high-end condos, a resort-style clubhouse, state-of-the-art fitness center, spa and versatile indoor to outdoor entertainment spaces.

Housing options at Norwood Junction range from studio apartments to condos with up to four bathrooms. The floorplans span from 1,150 square feet to 2,780 square feet, offering ample space for relaxing and entertaining.

However, a community that stakes its claim on luxury living also demands an elevated level of security. This is where Safe and Sound Security came in. 

Zachary Palmquist, Safe and Sound Security project manager, explains there are roughly 60 tenants per building in the five-building complex. Safe and Sound Security started by updating access to Building No. 5 and will now replicate the project across all buildings in the complex.

When they were hired, Building No. 5 relied on an old Doorking intercom for front door access control. While the system isn’t bad, Palmquist clarifies the owners sought increased control over their access control system.

The Doorking system featured a digital readout with an A to Z button for easy alphabetical access to tenants. Once visitors located the desired tenant, they pressed the call button and the system automatically dialed the tenant’s phone, be it a cellphone or a landline. 

However, the tenants only heard a voice over the phone; they could not see who was there, according to Palmquist. 

“The caller might say, ‘This is Amazon, we have a package for you,’” he explains. “But there was no way to confirm the call came from an Amazon delivery person. Tenants would allow entry without verifying the caller’s identity.” 

The Doorking system also integrated with badge readers on two courtyard doors, a garage door, and a vehicle gate.

“Tenants had Doorking clickers in their cars and would press the button on their clickers to open the gate or garage doors,” he says. “They had badge readers that gave them access through courtyard doors, back doors and the bike storage unit. All of these things were tied to the Doorking system.”

The risk of losing, stealing, or compromising clickers and badge readers undermined security, he adds.

Safe and Sound Security was hired to install video cameras, but granting camera system access to every tenant was problematic. “Imagine getting a call from the Doorking system, then having to log into an app to access the camera at that door to verify the person’s identity and then going back to the Doorking system to let them in. That’s a pretty lengthy process,” Palmquist says.

The housing development needed a better and more efficient method of access control. 

“Instead of adding cameras, we proposed switching out the Doorking unit with a cloud-based, Swiftlane access control system that provided access with facial recognition, mobile access, and video intercom,” he says.

The resulting installation uses:

  • SwiftReader X-an intuitive and customizable video intercom and access control system for occupant and visitor access control in multi-residential buildings.
  • Three Swiftlane Door Controller 5.2s-a cloud-connected access control system that connects to existing doors to control access to the building.

This innovative system harnesses the power of the cloud, a mobile app, facial recognition, and other innovations to provide seamless and secure access control to the entire building.

“The new Swiftlane system is loved by the tenants,” Palmquist adds. “The intercom’s video feature allows residents to visually confirm who is at the door, which has given tenants a sense of security. They are now ready to move forward with the next four buildings, which shows the new system has been accepted by all.”

Visual Verifications

Safe and Sound Security installed SwiftReader X, an innovative intercom system that offers facial recognition, PIN unlock, mobile app control, and Power over Ethernet connectivity, allowing for personalized access control. The tamper-resistant device includes a touchscreen display that exhibits the tenant directory and a video camera that captures footage of individuals who approach the front door. 

When visitors or delivery personnel arrive at the front door, they now use the touchscreen to find the tenant and call them. When the tenant responds, they can see who is standing at the door. 

“We eliminated the problem of not being able to see who is at the door,” Palmquist says. “They can verify who is there with video they can see on their cell phone.”

The facial recognition technology in the new system is another positive feature. After being added to the system, individuals receive an email containing a link. Clicking on the emailed link prompts them to download a mobile app on their phones. 

“During the setup process, users are given the option to use facial recognition for building access,” he explains. “If they say, ‘Yes,’ they are asked to take several pictures of their face. The system uses these images to create a 3-D rendering of their face. Now, when they walk up to the unit, the reader will scan their face and unlock the door. They don’t even have to pull out their phones.”

Moving From Card Readers

Replacing the Doorking intercom with a Swiftlane unit was just the beginning, as Palmquist explains the change made Doorking card readers used elsewhere inoperable.

He explains the Doorking unit acted as the brains of the system, and when it was gone, the card readers no longer worked. Safe and Sound Security had to replace the Doorking tracker boards in the parking garage and install three Swiftlane Door Controller Units (DCUs) instead.

The Swiftlane DCU is an access control system that allows for cloud connectivity and connection to up to four entrance doors. In addition, this device can be used with parking gates, garage doors, and access doors. 

“We installed the Swiftlane video intercom system, then installed Swiftlane access control panels, and Swiftlane card readers on all doors with access control,” he says. “This made it very easy for building management to update the system.”

The Swiftlane system is cloud-based, which means it plugs into the Internet, allowing building personnel to update the system via a web browser. “They can manage all users, access control doors, the intercom and everything else in one platform on the Internet,” he says. 

The old system limited building personnel to using the Doorking account manager, which was only compatible with Windows computers. All updates also had to be performed on a laptop that was plugged into the system. “Every time they had to add a maintenance person, or someone lost their access card or changed their phone number, they had to go to the parking garage, physically plug in and update the system,” he says. 

With the Swiftlane system, all changes are made wirelessly and are fully customizable. Building managers can efficiently update phone numbers or email addresses while tenants can choose to have their name or unit number programmed into the system.  

The older Doorking unit assigned tenants a PIN number to access the building. But tenants were compromising security by sharing their PINs with friends, Palmquist says.

While the Swiftlane system also uses PINs, the PINs are temporary. For example, a vendor who is scheduled to work on an air conditioning unit receives a temporary PIN that no longer works after he completes the work. 

Tenants also can use the app to issue visitor PINs. “In the mobile application, tenants can give their visitors a PIN that works while they are visiting,” he says. “The PIN can be a single-use or a multi-use code. Single-use PINs are active for a maximum of five days, while multi-use PINs can be set for the length of the individual’s visit.”

Tenants can also manage what visitors can access within the app. “Maybe it’s just the front door and the lobby, or maybe they have access to the parking garage, too,” he explains.

Once everything is in place, the system emails the visitor a PIN to access Norwood Junction. The system records comprehensive door activity, capturing entry details, timestamps, and users. 

The Swiftlane app can also send building activity alerts to tenants. “An announcement might say, ‘There will be construction on the front door from this date to this date. Please use another entry,’” he says. “The announcement gets sent to all app holders.”

Garage Door Readers

Norwood Junction previously utilized a clicker system for the vehicle entry gate and parking garage. 

“The problem with clickers is they can be cloned easily,” Palmquist says. “If someone is nearby with the right equipment, they can intercept and clone the signal with little devices called ‘dolphins.’ Once they capture that code, they could gain access to the garage.”

To improve security, a long-range reader was installed. This technology works like door card readers but is specifically for vehicles, Palmquist explains.

The technology relies on adhesive windshield tags that work like credential cards but are designed for vehicles. “With these tags on their windshields, the long-range reader will open the gate or the garage door as they near it,” he says. “They don’t have to push a clicker or anything like that.” 

The new system resolved the problem of misplaced cards or clickers. Palmquist clarifies that even if a tenant loses their phone, the system remains inaccessible due to PIN codes, fingerprints, or face locks.

A Team Effort

Safe and Sound Security personnel worked extensively with Norwood Junction through multiple meetings with the HomeOwners Association (HOA), and the Swiftlane team. 

“As you can imagine, HOAs have a lot of members. They had a lot of questions and wanted to see demos of the software and hardware, which Swiftlane was more than happy to do,” Palmquist says. “After these meetings, the HOA felt comfortable enough to move ahead with one building as proof of concept. Now that we’ve completed that, they are moving forward with the remaining buildings.” 

It took about five days to install the Swiftlane system. Norwood Junction wasn’t concerned about installation time, but they were worried about leaving the main entry offline for too long. 

“We had to pull the existing intercom unit off the wall to install the Swiftlane intercom, so there was going to be some downtime no matter what,” Palmquist says. “But we made sure that when we were ready to pull the existing unit, we could install the Swiftlane intercom the same day.”

The changeover was swift but not without challenge, he adds. The Swiftlane intercom unit is network based, while the Doorking unit is not. A network-based device requires an Ethernet cable for Internet connectivity, and that was missing, according to Palmquist.

This problem was solved by using a two-wire converter system. Safe and Sound Security installed a two-wire transmitter in the basement and a two-wire receiver by the new Swiftlane door unit to enable connectivity. 

“This gave us a wireless network connection instead of over an Ethernet cable,” he says. “Without this capability we would have had to cut through sheetrock to run cable behind it. That would have cost a lot of money, and we would have been tearing up a building that had just been finished.” 

Once installed, Safe and Sound Security tested the entire system. “We tested all card readers by swiping a credential at the readers,” he says. “We tested the long-range reader at vehicle entry by driving our vehicles up to the entry with a vehicle tag in the windshield. We tested the main intercom unit via facial recognition, cellular app, and a keypad on the unit.” 

A Safe and Sound Security service level agreement will maintain the system for the long haul, he adds. This agreement includes unlimited tech support, a 24/7 help desk and training. It also includes full parts replacement and covers all labor if a tech must go to the site. 

“It’s basically a bumper-to-bumper warranty,” he concludes.

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