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Apartment Building Enterphones Pose Security Risk

Building owners and strata councils need to take a hard serious look at their enterphone systems.

Building security hinges on these push-button entrance panels - entrance panels that are often abused by the building's owners and renters.

I'm not talking about physical abuse, I'm talking about abusing the privilege of letting visitors into your building at the push of a button. These-trigger happy residents are directly responsible for many of the apartment break-ins police are faced with today.

Responsibility must lie with the occupant who lets people into the building without verifying who they are.

This is not a new problem. Buildings have always been faced with "obliging owners." But the question is, "How do we stop these trustworthy residents from letting strangers into the building?"

We must first address the other half of the problem, the enterphone panel itself.

Exceptional voice quality is a must. I have been to many buildings where these panels are old and worn out. If you can't understand what the person is saying at either end of the phone, it's time to install a new system. How can you possibly converse with somebody if you don't know who you are speaking to? Assuming it's your repair man, isn't a good enough reason for letting him or her into the building. A new system would supply advanced technology and superior quality components that would result in conversations that sound perfectly natural, allowing tenants to identify the voice of the person they know.

Many enterphone systems allow trades people to enter the building through a personalized entry code. This presents another problem: How many trades or non-trades people have access to your building through these codes? You must check and make sure that these entry codes are deleted from the system. Most residents don't even realize entry codes like these exist.

Make sure that your suite number is not beside your name. Newer enterphone systems display a random code number beside the name that is not related to the suite number. A visitor simply looks up an owners name and pushes the code number to make contact to their suite. I, personally, have never seen the necessity to display names or apartment numbers on the enterphone panel. A code number would be sufficient. If you are expecting a visitor, just give them your code number. This would prevent a sneaky thief from using an owner's name to gain entry into the building. With no name and no apartment number, you are disarming a potential sneak thief.

If you are contemplating a new enterphone system, consider a built-in, small, covert (hidden) camera. These cameras allow you to identify visitors before granting access by using a dedicated TV channel or videophone. This also helps security personnel or managers to monitor entrance areas and reduce unauthorized entry, vandalism or loitering.

Submitted by:

Frank Fourchalk

Frank Fourchalk is widely recognized for his sustained commitment to education in Home and Business security throughout North America as a result of his syndicated newspaper columns. Mr. Fourchalk has written for The Toronto Star, The Vancouver Province, and several other daily newspapsers including the New York Post.

For more information on your home security check out http://www.yourhomesecurity.ca.


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