How safe is your apartment? Managing security in residential buildings

Over the past few years we have witnessed first-hand an exponential increase in the demand for security systems in apartment buildings. One possible explanation is that this may be a consequence of a rise in criminal activity within such dwellings, leading to security system installation either in response to a crime or as a proactive measure out of fear and worry.

This shouldn’t be of much surprise if we consider that in Victoria alone, over fifty percent of recorded crimes by Australian police in the year ending June 2016 were property-related, and apartment buildings clearly fall into this category.[1] To make things more challenging, the number of developments in Australia is continuing to grow fast.

At the current growth rate, ABS statistics suggest that the Australian population is expected to reach 30 million by 2030.[2] This represents an increase of more than five million people across the nation. To put things into context, this will arguably require more than 150,000 new dwellings a year over the next 15 years to meet the demand.

Of course, not all new dwellings will be apartment buildings, but these will represent an important percentage considering that more and more people are choosing to move into or closer to major city centres and, as a consequence, cities are expanding vertically rather than becoming larger.

It is therefore more important than ever, in this changing landscape, to better understand the unique issues facing residential buildings when it comes to managing security, and the steps that can be taken to help make such buildings safer.

From our perspective, there is a glaring gap between what the available technologies and products can offer in terms of security and what residents and developers actually get. Why?

There are many different factors that may contribute to this misalignment, such as design and installation flaws, product issues, lack of training, misguided expectations and user error to name a few.

In considering the above factors all together, we realise they all point to a single fundamental truth: security is a process and not a product. This might seem to be an obvious statement to make, however, we repeatedly see the same mistakes taking place because emphasis is too often placed on the product, while surrounding processes and recommendations are not implemented or, otherwise, ignored.

Managing security and making buildings safer requires a holistic approach. This is the approach we have taken in developing a framework to act as a guide for those involved in the security of a building – from the developer to the consultant, from the strata manager to the apartment owner.

This five-step ‘SAFER’ framework stands for:

Security audit – the assessment of the risks related to a particular building is the starting point for planning and designing a better security solution that specifically addresses the identified issues.

Adaptive design – by considering the available technologies, the site specific constraints and the right products, it is easier to design the most reliable and effective solution for the building.

Foolproof planning – documenting the objectives of the installation, setting a budget and the implementation roadmap is a fundamental step of the whole security process.

Efficient install – it is equally important to make sure the systems are installed, programmed and fine-tuned correctly to offer the highest level of security in the building.

Reliable maintenance – user training and regular service of the installed product are the last but not least requirements to keep the security of the building up to standard down the track.

Based on our experience in the industry, it is our view that such steps can significantly help in improving the security of a building and in ultimately providing residents with the peace of mind they deserve.

This framework is explained in further detail in our book ‘Making buildings SAFER’. For more information or to order a copy, please contact the author at [email protected]. A downloadable copy of the book can also be purchased via Amazon here. A chapter is also available for free download from our Epsilon Security website here.

Andrea Baratta | Director
Epsilon Security Victoria
T: +61 3 9553 6888
E: [email protected]

1. Crime Statistics Agency 2016, Recorded offences, Crime Statistics Agency, viewed 11 October 2016,
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016, Media release: Australia to reach 24 million, Australian Bureau of Statistics, viewed 11 October 2016,[email protected]/lookup/3101.0Media%20Release3Jun%202015

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