The changing apartment landscape: The need for a holistic approach to residential security

The apartment security landscape is changing rapidly – bringing with it increasingly complex challenges. In the last ten years alone, we have seen client needs change from requiring a new system to requiring an integrated solution. A holistic approach is now more crucial than ever. This article takes a look at the challenges currently facing the residential security industry and discusses the need for security solutions to be contemplated at the outset by those involved in the design and build of residential developments, to realise a finished integrated and functional system that meets resident safety requirements.

How is the landscape changing and what challenges do we now face?

The new challenges facing security integrators are varied and complex. The world has changed as threats of violence and extremism permeate fear and instability throughout society. Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate – creating new job opportunities while making others redundant. Population growth and density continue to increase – creating precincts within cities with more people than ever before living in close proximity to each other. Australia’s population is estimated to be 31 million by 2040 – with 92.1% of people living in urban areas.[1] This means that unless policy incentives are created to encourage business to decentralise workplaces outside of capital cities, demand for inner city living will continue to rise.

This demand brings continual emphasis on functional living – mixed use developments that blend residential, commercial and tourism development while also maintaining the historic integrity of the area, such as Caydon’s new Richmond Maltings site in Cremorne.[2] Technology and style have never been closely related yet architect and client demands for seamless unobtrusive security is ever more prevalent. All the while continuing to put pressure on price – asking for more for less.[3]

It is now more important than ever for security companies to be involved earlier in the design process to facilitate solutions that integrate and enhance functionality. To do this requires more communication and consultation with security specialists. Time and time again developments are being handed over that do not meet the end user’s security requirements – resulting in increased Owners Corporation fees to the end purchaser to improve the design. As an example, we at Epsilon Security have even been approached by an Owners Corporation during construction asking for additional cables to be run for CCTV cameras they knew they would require post-construction that were not included within the original design scope.

Why is there a disparity between specified security solutions and the solutions desired by residents?

At the moment, the apartment market structure is inefficient and does not provide an optimal solution to the end user. These inefficiencies are layered throughout the design and construction process which compound the end result. In particular:

  • Plans and specifications are created by electrical consultants, some of which may not be specialists in security nor up-to-date with the latest advancements in security and integration.
  • The security package is included within the electrical package that is included within the builder’s package. This creates layers of separation from the client, so even when specific solutions may be requested, functionality and features are lost and reverse engineered out of the scope, as focus on Value Management and Design & Construct become paramount. Worryingly, often the fix to this is for electrical consultants to write specifications as far reaching and ambiguous as possible – resulting in unrealistic security proposals that are not tailored to the development.
  • Security experts are not consulted to provide recommendations on the security design – instead being asked to meet the design intent at the lowest possible price while accommodating architectural design.

These inefficiencies result in higher costs for the Owners Corporation in the end, and solutions are not fit for purpose. Buildings are, therefore, less secure with residents/owners complaining about systems that do not control access sufficiently and create difficulties in managing the building.

How can this process be improved so that residents receive the security they are after?

Security is an increasingly important requirement within the high-rise residential and commercial sector that is currently being outsourced to meet non-security specific demands. If developments and precincts within urban centres are to better take advantage of the security and technology advancements on offer, then the following are key areas for improvement:

  • Developers need to be aware that leaving security to be handled in its current process is not conducive to delivering an optimal solution. The extension of this is that developers are missing out on opportunities to upsell their development to the market that tailoring a security solution provides. Security specialists must be consulted. Developers need to engage security companies in early design to tailor solutions that meet the development’s requirements. The recommendations put forward should then be documented in a dedicated security specification.
  • Security contracts, particularly on large developments, should not form part of the electrical package. It should be direct to the builder but ideally on developments with private network providers bundled direct to the client who will save money, maximise features and receive a tailored solution. Use of IP fibre networks for security services future-proofs the development and facilitates integration possibilities – opening up a myriad of advantages and benefits now and into the future.
  • The larger the development, the more design specific the solution needs to be to ensure the increased requirements of the project are met effectively. Examples may be multiple buildings, differing shared common facilities requiring an integrated booking platform, complex carpark requirements catering for residents, visitors and retail, multiple lift banks, vehicle lifts, a public concourse – these are just some of the variables that are currently not adequately considered. Experienced security contractors understand the demands and issues that arise from these types of multifaceted developments and can provide integrated security specific solutions to provide a better level of security and building management.
  • Architectural design should not take precedent over security features – there needs to be more communication and compromise in this area. A common example is architectural finishes in lobbies where often, the placement of security cameras is not adequately considered in the design. When they are considered, suggestions are often made to place cameras in discreet locations that impinge the cameras field of view. This means that in the event of an incident, crucial footage cannot be sufficiently captured.

The world is changing quickly and with it, the demands and challenges of markets and industry. Opportunity comes from meeting these new requirements. It is time the apartment market sector harnesses security expertise efficiently to deliver integrated tailored solutions that transform end users apartment living experience and provides them with a greater sense of security.

Ben Rice | Business Development Manager
Epsilon Security Victoria
T: +61 3 9553 6888
E: benr@epsilonsecurity.com.au
W: www.epsilonsecurity.com.au

References:
1. ‘Australia’s population’ 2017, Worldometers, viewed 27 April 2017, http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/australia-population/.
2. ‘Caydon development gets green light by honouring the past’ 2017, The Urban Developer, 31 March, viewed 27 April 2017, https://www.theurbandeveloper.com/caydon-gets-green-light-honouring-past/?omhide=true&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MON%20VIC&utm_content=MON%20VIC+CID_0bf9b460703758d7b15246fd66464deb&utm_source=Campaign%20Monitor&utm_term=Caydon%20Development%20Gets%20Green%20Light%20By%20Honouring%20The%20Past.
3. Adams, J 2017, ‘Integration challenges’, Security Electronics & Networks, viewed 27 April 2017, https://issuu.com/securityelectronicsandnetworks/docs/sen_feb17/54.

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