With shopping malls and other commercial properties on the decline in many parts of the country, staying on trend is more important than ever. Even in competitive rental markets, it’s important to be able to attract tenants who will add value to your property through more than just a monthly lease payment.
Real estate investors who are willing to explore some of the unique features made possible by rapid advances in technology may find that their jobs aren’t necessarily made easier, but are much more efficient. And one of the best ways to keep your tenants happy and your own liability risk low is to make a commitment to the physical and cyber security of your commercial building.
Read on to learn more about four new tech innovations that have the potential to change the way you think about commercial real estate security.
Biometric Entry Devices
A decade ago, opening a door with your fingerprint was mostly seen in science fiction books and movies about the year 2040. Today, many consumers carry around biometric readers on their cell phones, and more and more business owners have moved toward biometric entry systems in lieu of identification badges or traditional key locks.
Biometric locks have quite a few advantages over the more traditional types of entry security.
Adding (or deleting) a fingerprint or iris scan from a biometric lock is simple, allowing you or your tenants to instantly make changes to building access. Many of these systems even have timers so that you can grant certain tenants permission to enter the building during specified hours or give construction workers or other temporary employees short-term building access.
No longer will you need to worry about someone making illicit copies of an office key or allowing a non-authorized person to borrow their identification badge and cause mischief. The customizable access available with biometric door locks ensures that you’ll always know who is in your building, minimizing the risk of internal crime.
While biometric entry systems were on the pricey side at first, they’ve become much more accessible over the years, with systems available at just about every price point. For many, investing in a biometric entry system can provide cost savings over frequently changing locks or re-coding and re-issuing personalized identification badges.
Crowdsourcing Security Platforms
In an era where “if you see something, say something” has become a common public service announcement, crowdsourcing has taken on an entirely new layer of importance both in person and online. Implementing crowdsourcing security solutions can allow you to identify vulnerabilities in your online network by having it tested by dozens, sometimes even hundreds, of security professionals from around the globe.
Rather than utilizing a software program or one or two human consultants to test your network for common vulnerabilities, you’ll be able to rely on the expertise and varied experiences of a range of tech professionals, all of whom have been thoroughly vetted. The more protective eyes on your network at any given time, the more secure it will become.
You can implement a similar crowdsourcing philosophy for your building’s physical security by offering incentives like gift cards, bonuses, or preferred parking spaces to tenants or their employees who come up with ideas to make your building safer. After all, who better to identify potential security issues or threats than the people who spend the most time in your building? By making security a collaborative effort, you’ll be able to improve both communication and cooperation among your tenants.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
This term refers generally to the proliferation of “smart” devices that can allow you to control everything from heating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to security cameras and door locks from the convenience of your mobile phone or tablet. But the IoT isn’t just useful when it comes to convenience or efficiency; it can also help you secure your commercial building like never before.
Some smart devices, like autonomous data machines (ADMs), allow property owners and managers to utilize robots to continuously grab and organize data. This can include everything from scanning license plate numbers in your building’s parking lot to using facial recognition technology to alert security personnel that someone on a “no entry” list has arrived at the premises. These ADMs, in combination with remotely monitored security cameras and other recording devices, could make it significantly more difficult for any would-be criminals to get away with illegal acts on your property.
Installing and implementing ADMs in your commercial building could also eliminate the need for in-person security patrols while ensuring your tenants and their customers remain safe and secure. Over time, this will result in lower payroll costs and a decrease in liability insurance premiums to cover security guards who may risk injury (or worse) on the job.
Security is no longer limited to the physical; sensitive data stored in even the most impenetrably-guarded filing cabinet can be thwarted by one computer with an unsecured internet connection. And even a secured connection can be easily breached if, like many password-overloaded internet users, you’ve set the access code to “Password123” or similar.
Unlike banks, hospitals, healthcare providers, attorneys, tax accountants, and other professionals who often deal with confidential or sensitive information, real estate marketing and management firms are not subject to any federal rules or regulations on how to handle secure electronic information. This can make these firms even more vulnerable to hacking attempts, especially since real estate agents often collect information related to clients’ income, expenses, and bank account balances when working in tandem with a mortgage company.
Fortunately, the ease with which cyber-thieves can access and steal information is matched only by the level of innovation from those who have a vested interest in preventing such cyber-attacks.
By upgrading your building’s cybersecurity measures, you’ll be better poised to attract high-quality tenants and protect yourself against any legal claims stemming from a data breach. Some simple yet effective ways to improve your internet and technology security include:
- The development of internal policies and procedures to ensure that clients, tenants, and others do not wire money to you directly without additional confirmation of the request. This can be helpful in preventing “email spoof” scams that solicit money from your contacts by sending an official-looking email from your email address.
- A review of your building’s physical wireless security. For example, if your wireless cables are exposed on the outside of your building or in an easy-to-access indoor location, they could be vulnerable to tampering. And buildings that house an independent ATM or two can be vulnerable to inconspicuous credit card “skimmers” placed in these machines, grabbing users’ debit card information and using it to empty out their accounts once the transactions have ended.
- Periodic reminders to tenants on the importance of training their employees not to open or respond to suspicious-sounding emails.
- A cyberliability insurance policy could provide you (and your tenants) with some additional protection in the event of a security breach.
While not every property owner needs to immediately invest in every type of new technology, implementing some of these innovations can save you time, money, and hassle. Don’t purchase technology just for technology’s sake; look for the things most important to you and your tenants (like physical security or protection of confidential, computerized records) to decide where your tech dollars would be most efficiently invested.