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Examining Safety in Multifamily Properties How Communities Respond to Today’s Threats

A lot can be said about 2020, but this was certainly a year that forced people around the world to reexamine our processes and protocols around health, safety, and security—not just personally, but collectively, especially in our homes and communities as we face a series of threats novel to this generation. Not only is there a potentially deadly virus rampaging around the globe, but there is also uneasiness in many American communities as a result of spikes in crime, social unrest, economic uncertainty, political upheaval, and an ever-growing sense of COVID fatigue. 

Multifamily buildings and associations like condos, co-ops, and HOAs must factor in multiple layers of protection and communication as they face these challenges, taking into consideration their particular size, structure, and systems; their budgets and financial constraints; their population and demographics; and their existing policies. Rather than become overwhelmed by all the variables, savvy boards and managers are taking a good look at the measures they have in place to help protect their residents and their properties, and are coming up with a combination of cutting-edge technology, increased manpower, innovative training, and a dose of optimism—an essential element to overcoming most any challenge, be it virtual or viral, human or environmental. 

Accelerating Existing Plans

Much of the analysis of residential communities’ response to the coronavirus pandemic has pointed less to a 180-degree spin and more of a redirection that was already underway for many. Households moving away from dense urban areas, for example, was already a trend prior to the arrival of COVID-19; the pandemic has certainly accelerated the shift, but it wasn’t the root cause of it. Similarly, buildings and communities that were already contemplating security upgrades or new implementations may have been prompted to fast-track those projects in light of the pandemic. 

Joseph Ferdinando is the founder of Building Security Services & Systems, which has supplied security systems, technology, and personnel to buildings and communities in New York and New Jersey for nearly 40 years. He says that the year’s upheavals and crime statistics have not appreciably changed his business, or his clients’ requests. If anything, he says, “a lot of the clients have pushed up their projects, to upgrade technology that they were already going to do anyway.” Many projects that were on the back burner prior to the pandemic—or that were stalled at its onset—were accelerated once lockdowns eased and associations had a chance to evaluate the fallout. 

The New Normal

Of course, buildings and communities have changed some policies and procedures in response to COVID concerns and regional mandates, which has had trickle-down implications for residential security staff. Donning PPE, asking visitors and contractors health questions, monitoring capacity and distancing in common areas—these were not usually part of a residential security unit’s duties prior to March 2020, but now they are daily routines. 

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