Innovating Smart Apartments with Mobile Access Control

Interest in smart, or connected, apartments is growing, with Building Design + Construction noting it as a looming trend as early as 2015. “The industry is slowly moving toward giving tenants greater command over their environments—from entry doors to HVAC systems,” the publication says. “The tools help tenants and property managers lower their respective operational costs,” as well enhance sustainability efforts and existing amenities.

The technology can also grant greater security and convenience. Today’s smart locks, for instance, act as gateways to the apartment, digitally and physically. To choose the appropriate one for an apartment community, builders and property managers should consider at least two factors:

  1. Integration Capabilities

  2. Common Area Access Needs

With an understanding of these two elements, the two parties can choose a smart access control solution that secures the community, safeguards the people who live in it, and creates a living experience that attracts tenants while increasing lease renewal rates.

Integration Ecosystem

Integrations and compatibility become critical priorities when designing, developing, and deploying smart apartment communities. Each product listed below must work well with others when implemented:

  • The smart lock

  • Thermostat

  • Carbon monoxide detector (Interior and exterior lighting)

  • IP- based security camera system

If they don’t, security and convenience are jeopardized. Each product acts as a potential avenue into the home, meaning each one is susceptible to attack and software bugs. Without a layered security implementation, one of those products could be the domino that topples the others.

Convenience can also be affected. Tenants enjoy the lifestyle afforded by smart home gadgets—when they work as expected and don’t require multiple apps and devices. For them, a single smart apartment hub that links door entry with temperature settings could be a better selling point than a washer and dryer thrown into the rental agreement.

Common Area Access

Most apartment communities feature common areas such as the pool, laundry facilities, mailroom, meeting spaces, et cetera. But common areas often prove to be vulnerable ones: residents frequently share or misplace key cards. They must then remember where they left the card and ask the apartment staff for assistance, or  be reissued a new card.

Apartment property managers can enhance security and convenience with a commercial reader solution that utilizes mobile access control technology. Tenants would be issued electronic key credentials to their mobile device that give them access to approved common areas, ensuring seamless ease of access. Managers, on the other hand, would spend less time—and money—opening doors for residents or reissuing cards.

Smart Access for Community Residents

Many smart locks are available for purchase today, however, not all of them are designed for multifamily applications. Either they don’t provide the necessary integration capabilities, or they can’t easily secure common areas.

Some property managers ultimately purchase two systems, one for apartment doors and one for shared common areas. While it’s a viable solution, most property managers likely would prefer a single platform that deploys, monitors, and maintains the entire community rather than isolated segments of it.

Single System Smart or Connected Locks

  1. The August Smart Lock attaches to an existing deadbolt so that tenants can use either the mobile app or the key to gain entry. Because of that, the August may be better employed in a smart home rather than a smart apartment community.

  2. The Schlage Century Touchscreen Deadbolt uses Z-Wave wireless technology and offers keyless access capabilities. However, it doesn’t have a mobile app or a wide range of integrations, which could decrease its value in the apartment community.

  3. The LockState Wi-Fi Door Lock offers some great capabilities, such as anywhere monitoring, along with some equally spectacular downsides. Tenants could find the mobile app less than intuitive, and property managers might have to pass along the annual subscription fee cost.

  4. The Yale Real Living Z-Wave Deadbolt also uses a touchscreen, but it doesn’t (yet) have a dedicated mobile app. Tenants and managers would need a network controller to manage the lock remotely.

Fortunately, We Have a Solution

Combining the Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock and UNIKEY-SR Smart Reader, powered by the UniKey’s CORE Platform, deliver an all-in-one mobile access control solution. The solutions use UniKey’s proprietary electronic eKey ecosystem to offer seamless security within the multi-residential setting. Property managers and tenants can easily issue and erase eKeys through the apartment’s mobile app or web portal. In turn, tenants and guests will enjoy easy entry and integrations with smart home gadgets like Nest.

Lead Your Industry

Smart apartment communities are the future. They offer increased convenience and security to tenants while enhancing day-to-day management for property managers. But to see the effects, managers should evaluate integration capabilities and common area access needs before committing to an access control solution. If they do, they will see not only greater security but also cost savings and profits.


Want to learn more about UniKey’s Multifamily access control solution? Get in touch today!