How to Enhance Your Strata Security
With benefits like lower costs, access to shared facilities, and a greater sense of community, it’s little wonder that strata schemes are an increasingly appealing option for Queenslanders. However, living on a strata property isn’t without its challenges, one of the most persistent being potential strata security issues.
While residents are responsible for securing their own homes and, in some strata titles, businesses, securing common property, such as gardens, pools, car parks, entrances, hallways and stairwells, is a shared responsibility. More importantly, with lots of people going through these common areas, they’re more susceptible to criminal activity. Without the right security measures in place, the well-being of all residents and employees is compromised.
With rising crime rates across Queensland, e.g., youth crime, and increasingly more people feeling the pressure of the cost-of-living crisis, the security of their strata scheme must become a higher priority for its ownership and management.
With this in mind, let’s explore how to enhance the security of your strata scheme, why doing so is vital, and the best strata security solutions for ensuring residents’ safety and peace of mind.
Why is Strata Security Crucial?
Let’s begin by exploring the benefits of security solutions in strata schemes and, subsequently, implementing the right security measures is vital.
Protection of Residents
Above all, it’s the responsibility of a strata’s ownership and management to ensure the safety and security of its residents. Similarly, in the case of commercial and mixed-use strata schemes, people who work within the property should feel safe when doing their job. Improving security measures within your strata plan helps better safeguard the residents and/or employees – while also giving them the peace of mind that comes from knowing their welfare is being looked out for.
The mere presence of security measures such as cameras or a security patrol can be enough to deter criminal activity. They convey that your strata scheme takes security seriously and they’ll be surveilled if they attempt to carry out criminal activity. The more criminals dissuaded from illegally entering your premises, the lower the chance of a criminal incident.
Protection of Property
Implementing security measures helps protect common areas like parks, playgrounds, parking lots, and other shared spaces. Criminals typically target these areas because they’re easier to access than residents’ homes. Plus, common spaces allow perpetrators to confront residents outside their homes – giving them easier access to victims. Securing common areas and facilities ensures that residents can enjoy them without worrying about their safety – or that of their loved ones or employees, respectively.
Preserve Property Value
The better a strata scheme’s security measures are, the lower the likelihood of suffering property damage and vandalism. As well as lowering upkeep costs in the short term, maintaining the integrity of the property’s structure helps to preserve its value long-term. Also, from a reputation point of view, the safer the strata scheme, the more attractive to potential buyers, residents, tenants, etc. Conversely, a strata scheme with a weak security stance, that attracts crime as a result, is less marketable – compromising the value of individual lot values within the strata scheme or community title.
Implementing effective security measures can help reduce the liability of the strata scheme and its owners. When a strata scheme implements strong security measures, it demonstrates that efforts have been made to ensure the safety of people living, working, or visiting the property. Consequently, this can help protect the scheme’s ownership and/or management in terms of liability if a criminal incident occurs on the property. Similarly, the more a strata scheme invests in security, the less of a risk it becomes for insurance companies to cover it, which can help reduce the cost of premiums.
A United Strata Scheme
When a strata scheme’s residents feel safe and not, conversely, like they constantly remain vigilant for criminals looking to harm them, it creates a more trusting and communal environment. Secure in the knowledge that they’re being watched over, residents are more likely to attend community events, engage with each other, and consider themselves part of a community. This influences the atmosphere and general feeling or mood of the strata property – how people feel about living and/or working there, which also determines its marketability and value long-term.
The Benefits of Strata Security Cameras
CCTV is a broad way of describing video surveillance or installing and monitoring a security camera system. CCTV systems are typically one of the first things that come to mind when considering security solutions – and for good reason – because security cameras are one of the most effective ways to support the safety of your scheme’s residents.
The first benefit CCTV offers your strata scheme is increased deterrence of criminal activity. The security cameras you install around your property will be visible to potential perpetrators – immediately disqualifying many criminals from even attempting to break in.
Subsequently, for those criminals who aren’t dissuaded by the presence of cameras, CCTV offers real-time monitoring, so you’re always aware of what’s occurring on the property and can respond instantly. This is especially important in communal spaces, such as car parks, stairwells, gardens and other recreational areas, which are more exposed, and all residents have a stake in.
Now, regarding who watches the footage from the CCTV system, properties have two options: self-monitoring or back-to-base monitoring.
With self-monitoring, the strata’s management team & committee must implement their monitoring solutions and protocols, i.e., installing monitors to view the video feed and appointing someone to watch it. The system can also be set up to remote view from a laptop, tablet, or smart phone. This set up requires on-site management to determine how they’ll deal with criminal incidents, e.g., will a strata staff member respond to incidents themselves or call the police? Will the scheme’s ownership committee or on site management need to hire security guards or have a security team to call upon should they need assistance. It’s also worth thinking about who will have access to this footage. It’s common practice these days that only the on-site management team or a select committee member/s have access to the footage which can only be drawn upon with a police report ID number and/or an affirmed case for concern. This limits access to general recordings of no incident. Cameras are in common areas only.
Back-to-base monitoring, conversely, sees the strata scheme’s surveillance placed in the hands of a professional security firm and this is generally done on site with a dedicated security team. The property’s security company will provide 24/7 monitoring: supplying the equipment, personnel, and processes required to watch over the scheme’s camera feeds. More importantly, security personnel will immediately respond to criminal activity on the property’s behalf – which, when necessary, includes confronting criminals.
Another related benefit of CCTV cameras is they allow you to record footage of criminal activity, which can be used in investigations. This is especially important in cases of burglary, home invasion, and auto theft, as it increases the chances of the criminal being caught and the victim’s belongings being returned to them. The video footage can also be submitted to insurance companies to accompany residents’ policy claims.
Additionally, the benefits described above make a location more attractive to businesses, in the case of commercial or mixed-use strata properties. A CCTV system reassures business owners that their staff can work productively, knowing they’re protected, and someone will respond to suspicious behavior. Also, while security cameras will help prevent burglaries, if one were to occur, the business has video footage to aid their police investigation and insurance claims.
The Benefits of Access Control for Your Strata Scheme
Access control systems are another highly effective way to make your strata scheme more secure. As well as restricting entry into the scheme itself, access control solutions allow property managers to regulate access to specific parts of the premises. Particularly when combined with CCTV, an access control system provides a strata scheme with a formidable system of around-the-clock monitoring.
Much like CCTV, the first advantage of an access control system is that it’s a deterrent. If a criminal is scouting your strata as a potential target, an access control system is a barrier to entry that will cause them to summarise that breaking into your property will be too much effort – and the risk of getting caught is too high.
The second benefit of access control is that they secure the entry points to the strata scheme. Securing entranceways is especially important because they’re high-traffic areas; with residents and visitors coming in and out constantly, at all hours, it’s feasible for a wily criminal to slip into the strata undetected. For a common example, look no further than delivery drivers, who – between Amazon and the explosion in food delivery apps – visit strata properties more than ever.
With access control, to enter the property, an individual must prove their identity by presenting their credentials. Residents or employees of the strata will have permanent credentials, while visitors can be issued temporary ones. Different types of access control systems use different kinds of credentials, depending on the needs of the strata scheme, which include:
• Key cards or fobs
• PIN codes
• Biometrics, i.e., fingerprints and iris scans, facial or voice recognition
• Mobile app-based access (often in conjunction with another access method such as PIN codes or the app acting as a key card)
Additionally, entry systems give property managers granular control over regulating access to spaces within the strata. For example, a resident’s key card may grant them access to the floor they live on and common areas like the parking lot and pool – but restrict access to any other floor. Similarly, some areas, such as a cash office, may only be accessible to select management and personnel while restricted to everyone else.
Subsequently, another benefit of access control is that it records all access attempts within a strata. Every time someone presents their credentials to an entry point, it’s logged by the system, which creates an audit trail to follow in the event of an incident. What’s more, the system will record unsuccessful attempts at entry so you can pinpoint suspicious patterns of behaviour by residents or employees.
In the same way, an access control system is integral for visitor management, allowing strata employees to issue them temporary guest credentials. This controls who can enter the strata: making them known to the property’s personnel as they gain access. Just as importantly, this provides insight into who’s on the property at any given time – especially in the event of a crime or emergency, e.g., a fire.
For businesses, meanwhile, an access control system is a demonstrable way of mitigating risk, namely burglaries, internal fraud from staff and suppliers, etc. This can help them better comply with industry regulations and when getting insured, which makes a strata property that implements access control a more desirable location to open an office or unit.
The Benefits of Nightly Security Patrols for Your Strata Scheme
Establishing a nightly security patrol is the most proactive way to improve security in and around your strata scheme. With a skilled security guard performing routine patrols, your property and, crucially, its residents will be less susceptible to criminals that wait for the cover of darkness when fewer people are around to spot them. Consequently, a nightly security patrol goes a long way to making residents and employees of the strata feel safe and guarded – especially in areas affected by surges in youth crime. A security patrol service can vary from 1,2 or 3 attendances per night and over weekends. Their tasks per visit can vary from an initial lock up attendance, to foot patrolling certain areas to a spotlight drive through. The scope of their attendance can be adjusted to suit your sites specific needs. For any high-risk events, key holders are notified via phone as too are police for attendance. For low level risk events, photographs and a report on the event is emailed the next business working day to the key persons listed.
As with CCTV and access control points, a nightly security patrol is a strong deterrent to criminal behaviour. However, security guards offer the added benefit of recognising and immediately responding to suspicious individuals – further increasing the risk for potential perpetrators. At the very least, a patrolman can ask a suspicious, or simply unknown, individual to state their reason for attempting to enter or being on the property – which, alone, can go a long way to thwarting criminal intent.
On a related note, as security guards receive the appropriate training, they are better at spotting things that seem out of place and detecting hints of suspicious behaviour. Because of this, they’re more likely to notice subtle signs that could point to criminal activity than residents or strata staff. In particular, through regular inspections of communal areas and facilities, they may notice infrastructural damage that could make it easier for a criminal to access the property.
By the same token, part of a nightly security patrol’s duties can be checking and maintaining security equipment, like cameras and access points, to ensure they remain functional. In this way, a nightly patrol can not only complement but enhance your strata’s other security measures – maximising their utility and lifespan.
The most significant benefit of a nightly security patrol, however, is that they offer an immediate response to criminal incidents. An onsite security guard can observe criminal activity and act straight away, e.g., confronting a criminal damaging strata property or attempting to break in. Alternatively, if you’ve hired a patrolman to surveil your CCTV system, they can observe a potential incident and quickly make their way to where it’s taking place on the property. Better yet, if you have more than one security guard, they can simply radio the location to their colleague – who can investigate while they continue to track the situation on the monitors.
Like CCTV monitoring, a strata scheme can choose to arrange their own nightly patrol or have a professional security firm organise and maintain one on their behalf. If a property’s management elects to arrange their own patrol, they’ll be responsible for hiring and training their security guards, as well as defining patrol routes and other aspects of their job. In contrast, they can delegate this function to a reputed security firm that will create a patrol based on the specific needs of the strata property – handling their recruitment, vetting, etc.
• Reasons why security is crucial in strata schemes include:
o Protection of residents
o Crime prevention
o Protection of property
o Preserve property value
o Reduced liability
o A more united strata scheme
• Benefits of installing a CCTV system in your strata scheme
o Deterrence of criminal activity
o Real-time monitoring
o Record footage of criminal incidents
o 24/7 back-to-base security monitoring provides rapid response around the clock
• Benefits of access control for your strata scheme
o Extra barrier to entry is a deterrent
o Secures entry points
• Types of access control systems
• Key cards or fobs
• PIN codes
• Mobile app-based access
o Granular control over regulating access to spaces within the strata
o Records all access attempts
o Visitor management
o Access control log is demonstrable way of mitigating risk
• Benefits of nightly security patrols for your strata scheme
o Strong deterrent to criminal behaviour
o Trained to spotting things that seem out of place and detect hints of suspicious behaviour
o checking and maintaining security equipment, like cameras and access points
o immediate response to criminal incidents
If you’d like a no-hassle discussion about how to increase security within your strata scheme, please don’t hesisitate to call or drop us a line. With our free security assessment, we’ll help you identify the best security solutions for protecting your property and safeguarding the well-being of your residents.
Kylie Butchard is a highly respected and experienced leader in Australia’s electronic security industry, having successfully steered Pacific Security Group for over 17 years. With a career embedded in customer service, she has consistently focused on putting people first – clients and staff. Known for her strong, resilient, positive, values-driven, consistent, and compassionate approach, Kylie ensures that her team delivers top-notch security solutions tailored to clients’ unique needs.