2020 has put a stress on the need for residential buildings to have a strong visitor management system in place for its guests. It has increased inbound packages and food deliveries, put a closer scrutiny of security and guest protocols, and created a safety need for a contactless way to enter the building.
That’s why many multifamily residential communities are taking advantage of video intercom technologies to provide their residents with a sense of security and comfort they need.
There are many factors to consider when choosing an access system for your building, so we have put together this guide to help you equip your multifamily apartment building with the most effective video intercom system for your community.
9 Best Video Intercom Systems for Apartments in 2021
- Akuvox SmartPlus
What Is a Video Intercom System?
Because of the amount of traffic moving through main building entrances, the majority of apartment buildings have a barrier to entry that allows visitors, whether it’s friends or delivery carriers, to communicate with residents who can then choose whether to grant them entry. For decades, these have been voice-based, either ringing up to a telephone or speaker unit installed in an apartment.
More recently, products with an added video component and other modern features like facial recognition have become more widespread, providing additional security and accountability to residents and management.
Traditional Wired Intercom Systems
These are simple multi-unit systems with door bells or buzzers near the entryway, which signal up to a receiver in the apartment when activated. With this type of a system, residents are often able to press a button that would open the door for their guest remotely. This sort of system has been very popular over the past couple of decades, but is beginning to be phased out in favor of more modern systems.
Mobile Intercom Systems
This type of intercom also involves a panel in the entryway, but instead of being wired directly to the apartment, it can be programmed to dial a resident’s phone number. This eliminates the need for a bulky buzzer inside the apartment and makes it easier for a visitor or delivery person to reach a specific resident.
Smart Video Intercom Systems
A video-capable intercom system is ideal for security-minded multi-family apartment buildings. Giving residents the ability to see their visitors or delivery persons from wherever they are prior to allowing them inside the building helps ensure the safety of everyone in the building and their belongings. These systems are also sometimes referred to as smart intercom systems, with residents getting the added benefit of being able to see and access their building’s entry system via their smartphone.
7 Benefits of a Video Intercom System
1. Complete Remote Access Control
Many modern video intercom systems come not only with mobile apps for residents, but a separate management application software for building managers to use. These programs allow building staff to update resident information, manage specific access groups for residents and staff, and control several building entryways if necessary. These access control programs can also be useful for managing maintenance, vendor, or contractor movement as well.
2. Better Guest Management
Smart intercom systems keep activity logs for all connected access points. This can be helpful in a number of situations. For instance, in the event of a disturbance, these logs can provide the management office with information about who provided access, and when. This also could eliminate the need to employ a front desk person with an imprecise hand-written visitor log.
3. Improved Security
Unfortunately, sometimes a visitor is not welcome, or who they claim to be. Being able to see them prior to granting access will give a resident the time to alert the management office, building security, or authorities if necessary. Some systems also have the capability to save time-stamped images of visitors that can be pulled in the event that further investigation is necessary.
4. More Intuitive
These modern building access systems are designed to be super sleek in terms of appearance and usability. A comprehensive and easy-to-use video intercom system can be a significant factor when it comes to ensuring a remarkable experience for the resident and their guests.
5. More Secure Package Delivery
We all know how unfortunate and inconvenient package theft can be. Thankfully, the sight of a video intercom can be enough to ward off package thieves or visitors. That simple fact plus providing residents with the ability to admit legitimate delivery persons into the building, while preventing just anyone from wandering into the package area from outside, means less package theft all around.
6. Reduced Resident Lockouts
Some smart intercom systems give building management staff and residents the ability to produce virtual keys and PINs. This can come in handy in the event of a lockout or if an office delivery needs to be made after-hours.
7. Contactless Entry & Contract Tracing
Smart intercom systems provide residents with a contactless way to enter their building – via scanning a smartphone, using a smartphone to unlock a door, or by facial-recognition features. Additional, video intercom systems provide tools to track all guests and visitors who have entered your building – perfect for contact tracing in the event someone tests positive for COVID-19.
Price: Hardware starting at $3650. Software starts at $2.50 per unit per month
- Virtual keys for guest access
- Elevator control capability
- Security features for management
- Mobile app for remote and contactless entry
ButterflyMX’s smart intercom system gives residents the ability to manage guest entry, connect to building management systems, and even send virtual keys for managed access all from their smartphones or apple watch. It also has elevator control integrations that bring guests directly to their intended floor.
This comprehensive entry solution eliminates the need for bulky wiring and gives residents and community managers a sense of security and ease. Butterfly MX’s cloud-based dashboard lets managers review all door release activity and time-stamped visitor photos for up to one year if necessary. Monthly costs cover software updates, the mobile app, and live support.
Price: Prices start around $1200, but Swiftlane directs customers to contact them directly for a custom quote.
- Two-way video
- Single-use PIN generation
- Cloud access control dashboard
- Face recognition access control
Swiftlane manufactures access control and intercom products for both commercial and residential buildings. Their next-level technology offers multi-level residential buildings customizable, secure solutions.
Its wired access control system provides residents with mobile access control features and optional facial recognition capabilities (seen below.)
Swiftlane’s web browser interface gives community managers detailed analytics, real-time activity logs, and remote door management (seen below). The system is scalable and works well for small apartment buildings, high rises, and can even be used to manage multiple locations.
Price: Latch’s entry system for multifamily buildings comes at $2999, and requires an additional purchase of an external camera to incorporate video capabilities. Software costs $2 per month per unit, but can vary based on contract terms.
- Web-based access management platform for community managers.
- Ethernet, wifi, or LTE connection
- Remote access tools
- Persistent video streaming and image capture is optional based on resident preference
Latch is an access control company that has been expanding rapidly over the past several years. It initially produced smart locks for front doors and have expanded to building access systems and in-home smart technology solutions. Its “Works with Latch” smart-home product platform allows it to partner with vendors and service providers across industries to create a complete building system.
Latch’s Intercom allows residents to admit visitors and delivery persons to the building from wherever they are with the Latch mobile app. It can choose how (or whether or not) they want their name and photo displayed in the building directory as well. Its web-based access management platform for community managers can produce temporary entry codes and monitor apartment door activity.
Price: Doorbird multi-tenant door stations come at around $2,500. Accessories and expanded cloud service come at additional costs.
- App for smartphone and tablet
- Free cloud recording
- Individualized action schedules
DoorBird is a Germany-based company with an IP-based video intercom solution for multifamily buildings with up to 100 units. Its intercom system has an open API, so it can be connected to other third-party smart home and access systems.
The DoorBird smartphone app makes it easy for residents to greet visitors or delivery persons and grant entry from anywhere. The system can also be accessed through RFID cards and PIN codes. Its free cloud recording includes VGA images of the 50 most recent visitors, while the PRO version saves HD videos of all visitors for seven days.
Price: Aiphone’s intercom systems are sold through distributors at manufacturer-recommended prices. Its door station hardware starts at about $600. Tenant stations, elevator control adaptors, mounts, gateways, service, and software comes at additional costs.
- Touchscreen video entrance system
- Optional in-unit resident controls
- Optional mobile app for residents
- PoE (Power over Ethernet) connections
Aiphone’s network-based intercom systems are scalable and customizable to meet the needs of their customers. It has a few different series of products designed for video-based apartment building entry management that can support several buildings and thousands of stations.
Its IXG Series of IP video intercoms for multi-tenant buildings has a cloud-based app that can be used with or without an interior station. Aiphone’s solutions are most ideal for multi-building communities, high rises, or other larger office buildings.
Price: 2N’s product offerings are highly customizable and must be purchased through distributors, so pricing is not readily accessible online.
- Modular, customizable intercom system
- Touch screen, fingerprint reader, and Bluetooth on some models
- Browser interface for community managers
- No local network or cables required for install
2N Telekomunikace is a Prague-based intercom system manufacturer. Certain models include state-of-the-art features like fingerprint and RFID card readers, as well as built-in night vision. 2N’s variety of products provide a degree of flexibility that could be crucial for certain multifamily residential buildings. The 2N Mobile Video service gives residents the power to permit guests from their cell phones.
Its Access Commander software allows communities to configure access control throughout the building, manage connected devices, and scale to multiple buildings among other things. Its web-based access management platform for community managers can produce temporary entry codes and monitor apartment door activity.
Price: The AlphaTouch AT700AS goes for about $2,000 on its own. Monthly software and service pricing starts as low as $2.50 per apartment
- Touch screen door station
- Mobile app
- Web browser-based dashboard for property managers
- Cloud-hosted visitor call logs
AlphaTouch has a cloud-based PoE video intercom platform that eliminates the need for expensive installation or wiring. This company’s focus is on providing high tech and low cost solutions for multi-family buildings. Residents can admit their guests through the AlphaTouch mobile app.
Its system has no limit to the number of door entry stations or residents it can handle. AlphaTouch’s analog integration allows it to work with a building’s existing intercom systems, stations, and wiring as well.
8. Akuvox SmartPlus
Price: Akuvox does not provide pricing on its website, customers should reach out for a custom quote.
- Facial recognition with certain models
- Touchless entry
- Compatible with SmartPlus and Vfone mobile apps
- In-unit resident control
Akuvox’s SmartPlus has a smartphone app that allows tenants to permit entry to visitors, issue virtual keys, and monitor building entrances. They can also open the entrance with their phone by NFC or Bluetooth. Their solution is cloud-based, eliminating the need for complex wiring or troublesome installations.
Its cloud-based management portal was designed to simplify access controls for community managers and owners. It allows for easy directory updating and distribution of community messaging in addition to door entry logs complete with date and time-stamped photos.
Price: DoorKing’s entry system equipment ranges from about $1300 to $6500. All additional accessories come at additional costs. Its systems are sold through distributors at manufacturer-recommended prices, so installation, software, and maintenance costs vary.
- Optional camera kit
- PC-based management app
- Resident mobile app
- Installed on telephone lines
DoorKing has long been involved in the building entry game. Though none of their systems come with built-in video capabilities, they are a reliable name and do have camera kits which can be installed separately. Their systems are straightforward but customisable and reliable. DoorKing does not incorporate cloud connectivity or remote management.
Additional Resources for Multifamily Property Managers
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