In the quaint, waterside city of Gulfport, FL the Villas del Verde is home to a community of residents who want a tranquil piece of paradise, without the hassle of traditional home upkeep. Management recently asked Surveillance Technology, Inc. (STI) to update the video access control system around the property, encompassing 62 Mediterranean style townhomes, a clubhouse, and pool.
STI replaced the traditional telephone entry system at the main entrance with a modern CellGate video system to accommodate visitor arrivals. Guests can use the keypad at the gate to call the resident they are visiting. The resident can use a smartphone app to see their guests on video, speak with them, and press a button on the app to grant access. Older systems require residents to be at home on a landline to let visitors in. The new CellGate system allows users to admit guests from wherever they are, using the app.
If a resident knows in advance that someone will be visiting, they can proactively send the visitor a QR code for the guest to scan when they arrive. The resident can also specify a window of time for the access to be valid. For example, if a resident will be away from home but knows the pet sitter will arrive at a certain time, they can schedule access in advance to allow the pet sitter in when planned, but would not grant that same visitor access in the middle of the night or on another day. Similarly, residents throwing a dinner party would not be tied to their phones admitting guests all night. QR codes can be provided before the event, which guests can use upon their arrival without interrupting the host inside.
As with all new technology, there is a learning curve. Residents are provided detailed guidance for using the app, but those without smartphones or who are simply more comfortable with previous methods are still able to use their landlines in a more traditional manner. An interesting effect of installing new options is the ability to see where residents were undermining their own security, by routinely buzzing in visitors without speaking to or even identifying the person requesting entry. CellGate systems require users to connect with visitors by phone or video, which encourages them to actively discern if that visitor should be granted access. Improved security of all residents is a natural result of better technology.
For resident entry, both the front and rear entrances are equipped with long-range UHF readers, which will open gates for incoming vehicles with credentials from 40’ away. Each resident can choose to use a card, sticker, or fob. While some choose a sticker on their windshield, most users prefer cards, which can also be used at all other access points, including pedestrian gates and the clubhouse. Both entrances also have traditional readers for pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
Surveillance Technology installed a long-range wireless mesh between the readers and the clubhouse modem, sending signals over 60 MHz high-magnitude beams, which can transmit 1 GB per second. There is an access bridge at each entrance, mounted on 20’ commercial grade poles. The implementation of this system reduces Villas del Verde’s operating expense, meeting connectivity needs without the recurring costs imposed by the manufacturer. The entire system is managed from a single database on CellGate’s TrueCloud web portal. Authorized administrators from the board or management company can access the unified platform from anywhere in the world.
With cutting edge technology and user-friendly features, the new CellGate system installed by Surveillance Technology has increased both ease of access and security at the Villas del Verde. Post-implementation support provided by STI has ensured residents are confident in their options to use the system in a way that meets their individual needs. Management has more flexibility to monitor and manage activity, while homeowners can more easily uphold the integrity of their community access control.