Common Ways to Save with Community Security – FLCAJ August 2022

It is sometimes thought there is a fine balance between saving money and having effective security systems at a community. Yes and no. It’s no secret that most security systems are an investment by an association. This investment is often made with the plan to save money in other areas by utilizing the equipment or security methods in place. On the surface, that may not be as easy to see. However, there are a few commons ways that many communities save money with one or more security solutions strategically placed in the neighborhood.

Gated or not, many planned communities in Florida have amenities for all residents to use. Typically this is a pool and clubhouse, but it is not uncommon to find a fitness center, tennis court, or other amenity that the residents contribute dues to maintain and use. So what is the most common issues that communities have with these amenities? Trespassing and/or vandalism.

Whether its pool furniture thrown in the deep end or dish soap in the hot tub, the damage that some communities experience at their amenity starts to add up. Those examples aren’t even the worst of it. Without a proper security system in place, a community is likely to continue experiencing these incidents and deal with the costs to clean up the damage.

If access control isn’t already installed, it should be. Managing access to an amenity has far more benefits than just keeping trespassers out, but that is certainly one pro. What about the people that hop the fence though? This is where the real investment comes into play.

Implementing an active monitoring system for the pool is one of the most cost effective methods for deterring trespassing and preventing vandalism. Think of it like an invisible tripwire, and when that line is crossed during closed hours, an alert is sent to a real person who can remotely see the area. If trespassers are indeed at the amenity, the virtual guard can speak directly with those people and demand they leave. This type of proactive system prevents vandalism before the damage can be done, saving the community associated repair costs.

An active video surveillance system requires an initial installation investment and monitoring fee; both will vary on the size on the system. However, this effective solution is also more affordable than hiring a person to physically oversee an amenity all night, and many associations find the system pays for itself with the incidents that are prevented.

For gated communities, the most common and frustrating costs are often related to gate damage. There are not any exceptions; if you have a gated community, you will have gate damage. While there are ways to prevent (not eliminate) the occurrences, it is best to have a method in place to recoup the damage costs.

Strategically placed license plate cameras at a gated community entrance are key to capturing the vehicle information of drivers entering the association, especially if that driver tailgates and hits the gate. When employed with a series of other cameras at the entrance, an association can capture the details of any incidents at the gate. Rather than losing money on service calls and repairs, associations that utilize their system and services (depending on the provider) recoup damage costs when a specific driver is at fault.

Often times, a security service vendor provides a service and maintenance plan, just like other industries. These plans frequently assist communities in saving money when equipment fails. It’s important to remember that all technology is susceptible to malfunctions or failures, but a service and maintenance plan can help with equipment checks and replacements when something is not operating as it should. That being said, communities should still prepare and save for incidents that are not covered under a service and maintenance plan or when a system has reached its end of life.

If taken to the extremes, saving on “security” can be a detriment to an association. For example, installing fake or dummy cameras in an area that residents believe is protected. Some communities see this as an easy save, but this can actually be a huge liability for the association. Other times, a community will simply not take an action even if an area is having continuous issues. It is not an uncommon occurrence but will only cost the community until something is done.

When it comes to saving money for the association, it’s less that there is a balance or choice between saving and spending on a system. In reality, the savings often come from having an effective community security system and/or access management solution. While there are common ways that many communities save, it is still important for an association to take a detailed look at the specific issues being experienced, the design of their community, and other variables. These factors will help a community devise a plan, or work with a provider to do so, and determine the best course of action and greatest savings.

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