Over the past two decades, New York City has become a safer place than it once was. But events in recent years, both at home and abroad, have made Americans more aware of security—how much they have, how much they’d like, and how much security they really need in order to feel truly safe in their homes. The answer to those questions involves assessing and adding up the costs and benefits of a security program, and tailoring that program to one’s particular building, community or home.
Considering the Options
Knowing what level of security is appropriate—and economically feasible—for your building is essential. Depending upon the means of the residents of the building, and also depending upon the number of residents of the building, a full-time security guard might be a necessary and appropriate expense. But for a small building of 10 units, paying for a full-time security guard might be a financial impossibility. To fit the variety of security needs of different buildings, security companies provide security systems that fit the needs of specific building communities.
Closed-circuit television (CCTV), key card entry and other security technologies have been around for some time. Newer systems--such as biometrics--haven’t caught on as widely in the residential building market yet. Lock-and-key security systems remain the standard, and new state-of-the-art security technology often is based on the old lock-and-key technology.
In electronic security, there are mainly three types of equipment: CCTV, burglar alarm systems, and access control systems, such as those accessed with a key card or key fob. These systems are often combined, or “integrated,” says Mark Lerner, PhD, president of Manhattan-based EPIC Security Corp. EPIC Security provides uniformed security guards for residential buildings and houses. According to Lerner, no amount of technology beats the advantages of having a live person there, he says.
“The best access control is to have a real doorman or security guard,” Lerner says. To employ a guard to watch a building 24/7 means 168 hours of work each week. Depending upon the type of security guard employed—armed or unarmed, for example—and depending upon the experience of the guard, a guard could cost anywhere from $15 to $30 per hour. That adds up fast, and can amount to about $130,000 a year. Such an expense might be far too much for many smaller buildings.