While the residential security market has been revolutionized in many ways by the proliferation of smart home technology, the primary focus and application for these solutions has centered around single-family homes. However, multi-family dwelling units (MDUs), such as apartments and condos, still represent a largely untapped market but that is quickly beginning to change as property managers look to the enhanced capabilities presented by today’s IoT devices to provide tenants with a safer and smarter living environment.
One company that has been at the forefront of this movement is Canada-based 1VALET, which provides a platform ecosystem for the integration of various IoT systems within a high-rise building. According to Adrian Wang, Vice President of Business Development at 1VALET, the company was initially founded with the goal of helping to lower operational costs for property owners through technology that could provide remote access and control capabilities.
“We recognize there are a lot of companies out there tackling what is in-suite within the single-family home, townhome or low-rise building, but what we are looking at is the integration – not just within the four walls of the unit itself, but all of the common areas pertaining to that building,” Wang explains. “What we are trying to create here is that unified platform that ties in disparate stakeholders and property managers into one platform, so this is about that integrated experience for the developer, property manager, concierge, and the resident.”
Wang emphasized that 1VALET is primarily focused on the software aspect of facilitating these building technology integrations with the only hardware exception being the entry console they offer, which comes in several different formats, including a 42-inch standing entry system, as well as a 43-inch and 22-inch wall-mounted entry system.
A Next-Gen Smart Building System
Much like a commercial access control system in an office building, tenants in buildings outfitted with the 1VALET solution can use digital keys on their smartphone to access their residence. Alternatively, residents can simply have their faces scanned to be granted access if they are comfortable with facial entry technology, which continues to grow exponentially in acceptance, according to Wang.
“We have seen very high traction with this, anywhere from 60% to 80% in most of our buildings. Especially urban centers we’re finding that a lot of residents find this to be a popular feature set because they don’t need their keys,” he says.
Residents can also use the 1VALET app to receive video calls from the building’s entry system to see guests and either grant or deny them access.
Although they can integrate with any access control system, Wang says they have “more sophisticated integrations” with Salto locks in which they can provide additional key fob encryption, key fob management systems and pairing with various video surveillance systems.
“We tend to lead off with Salto because they have the best API integrations for us to tie into, but if it is an existing HID system or ICT system, we can also tie into that as well so that is not an issue for us,” he adds.
Additionally, the company has also taken these remote capabilities one step further for tenants by enabling guest invitations for visitor access.
“This has been popular with asset managers, property managers, but also the residents of the building,” Wang says. “Today, the experience is if you are having a party inside the dining room you would have to inform the concierge if there is a concierge building to manually open and close those doors. It’s a very complicated and annoying process, so we circumvent that by simply allowing [residents] to tap guest access – they can tie this to any particular door – and send a code to grant them access… and this allows for seamless visitor access.”
According to Wang, 1VALET also provides couriers, such as UPS, FedEx and Amazon, with easy access to buildings to ensure that tenants won’t miss much-needed deliveries.
“We work with all of the major couriers and what we’ve done here is we’ve patented the scanning process where we are able to check the tracking status of these packages coming through and if it is verified or validated that that package is in transit, the door will automatically open for them thereby allowing them to deposit it into a parcel room or locker system,” he explains.
As to be expected, demand among high-rise residents for this feature has skyrocketed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Aside from access control, the platform also provides residents with a host of in-suite integrations, including the ability to control their thermostats, lights and shades via the app. The app also serves as a messaging platform where tenants can communicate with property managers regarding maintenance and other customer care requests.
For property owners, the company provides a 1CONNECT management app where they can remotely control access as well as view a building’s security camera feeds.
“We also partner with various third-party monitoring centers, so if people are looking for active monitoring of their buildings, we can provide that service as well,” Wang adds.
An Emerging Opportunity for Integrators
Wang says that the company’s platform can be found in the major metropolises across Canada as well as in several U.S. states, such as Texas and Florida with upcoming projects in New York and Los Angeles.
“We’re scaling very rapidly in the states and we only launched there about six months ago, but we’re seeing heavy market traction in the states right now and we’re looking for security installers to partner up with to install our entry consoles and obviously sell different solutions that we have for these asset managers,” he says. “Based on the feedback we’ve had in the market, it seems like it is a very compelling solution because most of these asset managers, similar to what our CEO did, they are bundling this together as part of a package, so it is an ability for them to increase their rents and charge more and obviously increase their asset value as a result of that.”
According to Wang, the company has already started expanding its dealer network in the U.S. and is actively recruiting and talking with various channel installers.Joel Griffin is the Editor-in-Chief of SecurityInfoWatch.com and a veteran security journalist. You can reach him at [email protected].