Off-Campus Student Housing Blazes Trail to Future of Visitors' Management Systems
Katie Campbell, Vice President of Technology, Landmark Properties
One group of college students in Midtown Atlanta is already living with the future of visitors’ management systems. They don’t think much about the added safety it provides their landlord and property owner, instead, they enjoy being able to seamlessly add their own smart speakers and other smart technology to the digital smart hub.
The single apartment unit at The Mark Atlanta, off-campus housing on Spring Street in Midtown, is a pilot program for Landmark Properties to test the cutting-edge technology available in visitors’ management systems. The in-unit display panel shows tenants’ guests calling from the building’s entry panel. Being able to see exactly who’s requesting access makes the entire property safer.
In the pilot program, the display panel also connects with the installed smart thermostat and smart water leak detection system while allowing each new set of tenants to connect their own smart devices. Increasingly, students want to bring their own smart devices from home to school. Providing a digital hub already wired within the unit makes this easy.
The pilot has been successful and is planned to be launched in units as early as 2023.
For student housing, especially, this level of smart controls within the home is quickly becoming the standard.
Today’s modern visitor management systems allow residential and commercial buildings to verify and track each guest coming onto the property. A quality system will make sure that all visitors requesting property access and entering the building are verified guests of the building’s tenants.
The system also provides visitors with access to additional spaces throughout the building, including common areas, the leasing office, or a conference room.
This is a long way from where visitors’ management systems were 15 years ago. Back then cell phones were still growing in popularity and were not yet ubiquitous. The smartphone was brand new. Consequently, the best visitors’ entry panels would call a landline or an assigned cell phone to gain access to the property gate/door. Or, residents would arrange a specific time to meet their guests in the lobby.
Today, visitors’ management systems allow for capturing guest photos and videos. Today, our tenants expect to see their guests from their smart device before allowing them entry into the building. This is most often accomplished with a downable app.
The best visitors’ management systems also allow for controlled access throughout the property. Using multiple relays, property owners can define a path through the building—from one door to the next. All of this can be set from a central office or from the property’s leasing office, which makes it easy for property managers to keep guests from wandering.
While we still use the most restrictive access for our student properties, we appreciate the flexibility that is available in modern systems.
One area where we have seen the most value for modern visitors’ access systems has been with our leasing office. During the COVID lockdowns, we implemented a new way to tour our properties by using the visitors access system to open the right set of doors for potential tenants—creating, in essence, a guided tour throughout the property without a leasing agent having to be onsite in person. This kept our potential tenants and our staff safe.
“While we still use the most restrictive access for our student properties, we appreciate the flexibility that is available in modern systems.”
Now that COVID is waning, we’ve seen the benefit of staffing our leasing tours with our superstar agents no matter which property they call home. Using video and a modern visitor management system, our best agents can lead tours through any property. These new tours have become a permanent part of our leasing program.
One of the best parts of working with students in the off-campus housing industry is that they are not resistant to change. In fact, we see growing demand for new and different amenities all the time. As a result, we get to push the boundaries of what’s possible on our properties. That includes putting digital smart hubs in each unit to keep our tenants safe and connected.
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