These days the simple door-buzzer and intercom building security systems that were the industry standard not so long ago are going the way of the dinosaur. Like it or not, soon the stuff of science fiction films will become reality. Today, voice-recognition systems, camera networks and closed-circuit television (or CCTV) fingerprinting, and other state-of-the-art technologies are giving co-op and condo residents peace of mind while protecting them, their families, and their property from both external and internal threats.
Those systems are not so far out of reach, either. Upgrading your building's existing system to a color camera or digital recording system can be a reasonably simple affair, depending on your building's wiring. However, although cameras, biometric scanners and other such security devices can record crimes, they cannot prevent them. Therefore, the need for trained security guards to monitor high-tech equipment is stronger than ever.
Most co-ops and condos carry one of three security systems: alarm, access-control, or CCTV. According to Dr. Mark Lerner, president of EPIC Security Corp., a security provider located in Manhattan, some buildings integrate the three options. "The large buildings that have money in their budgets will generally have a variation of all three either separately or combined," Lerner says. "You don't find many buildings that don't have anything these days - most buildings have something."
"If you have a doorman, you have some sort of intercommunication," says Larry Dolin, president of American Security Systems Inc., a New York-based security solution provider. "On the doorman buildings they have basic intercoms or they use telephone entry - that is the more popular method these days." Those systems, he says, tie into the building's existing phone lines.
"What's really popular now is the video intercom," says William Polakowski, national sales manager of Siedle Communications Systems, a solution provider based in Broomall, Pennsylvania. "Everyone's adding them." Typically, he says, you can upgrade your existing wiring to audio/video without rewiring the building.