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Access Control Systems Upgrade

Updated: May 16, 2022


The Board of Directors of a twin-tower, high-rise condominium complex in Atlanta planned to replace their aging physical access control system (PACS) that secures the building residences. The Board contacted Community Technology Services for technology guidance, management of an RFP process, and a subsequent implementation project that would improve the resident experience through mobile and/or biometric credentials and an enhanced visitor access control solution.

The Challenge

An initial assessment revealed frustration on both the part of building management, as well as residents and their guests.

  • The PACS was in use since initial building construction in 2002, and required manual reboots almost daily to function properly.

  • Approximately 40 doors were being monitored/managed by the existing PACS, with a plan to manage additional entries as part of this project.

  • Residents were not able to gain entry through many of these doors because access control components were failing, and were routinely found themselves locked out of the building.

  • The lobby had legacy, wired dial-up call boxes that guests were forced to use to gain access to the elevator lobbies.

  • Elevators would not properly read particular residents' access control cards, creating continued frustration.

  • Residents had the same personal identification (PIN) numbers for years that allowed them, and anyone to whom they gave their PIN, access to their floors on the elevators.

  • Residents had given friends and delivery drivers the PINs to deliver food and personal purchases to their unit. Security 'red flags' were raised when building management saw a sheet of paper with a "List of floor PINS" for their building at a local restaurant when ordering food.

Per request of the condominium's Board of Directors and their Technology Committee, CTS authored and distributed a Request for Proposal (RFP) to nine vendors:

The RFP specified the following client requirements:

  • Identify a new access control system to replace the inadequate legacy system.

  • Retrofit/integrate with existing wiring if/where possible.

  • Allow residents to send a time-controlled link to guests/delivery drivers that would allow mobile access to their unit, then expire within a set amount of time.

  • Eliminate the distribution of PINs to delivery drivers and friends.

  • Eliminate legacy call boxes and reduce the workload on the concierge staff (dealing with guests, deliveries, etc.)

Proposals were evaluated based on thoroughness, understanding of project scope and desired outcomes, and bid price. Seven vendors responded out of nine, and a shortlist was derived based on the evaluation of all responses, across all criteria presented.

The CTS Solution

CTS gathered all of the requirements from the management team and Board and applied the necessary structure and constraints on the project. CTS facilitated the RFP process and managed the project implementation by an integration partner on behalf of the client.

  • A new system was installed, designed with a "mobile-first" approach, ensuring residents could use their phones or smartwatches as credentials to enter the building.

  • Visitors now receive a link sent direct from the resident that once clicked, allows them access to only the resident's floor.

  • Doors open automatically when a resident (with a smartphone/watch) approaches, reducing backups at entry points.

  • Residents are now more secure as PINS are no longer used for deliveries.

  • The condominium's management company observed this implementation closely as it was considered a pilot for other properties that also sought to improve access controls and leverage mobile credentials.

  • Call boxes were no longer required and were eliminated.

Stakeholders were pleased with the outcome of this project – property management feels much more in control of an environment that is much more safe and secure, resident frustrations and complaints to the Board are significantly reduced, and building management has reliable technology support from a partner they can trust: Community Technology Services.

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