An increasing number of property managers, from residential and multifamily, to short and long-term rentals, are investigating the benefits of smart home technology to automate their properties. They want what others are realizing; greater convenience and safety for their residents and guests, and more efficient operations and lower costs for their management company. 

But it doesn’t take long for smart-shopping managers to find themselves confronted with a myriad of possible solutions that cause confusion and doubt. They ask…What will work best for my properties? Will it be secure and reliable? Will the vendor be there for me in the long run?

With so many choices and options available and to help clear up some of the confusion, we’ve broken down the process to the three most important factors you should look for.

Lock Codes That Make Residents & Guests Safer

Smart locks are really convenient and have the inherent ability to improve safety for residents. However, if not properly set up, just the opposite could occur. One of the key factors in assuring safety is installing smart locks that use 6-digit pin codes instead of 4. Sure, 4 digits are easier to remember and don’t take as long to enter. But 4 digits, even though there are 10,000 possible combinations, can be “guessed” because many people use their phone number for the digits. 

Whereas, a 6-digit code has 1 million possible combinations. That makes 6-digit pin codes 100 times more secure than 4-digit pin codes and much less likely to be guessed. Even if the probability of guessing a 4 digit code is low, the risk is too high, and this is why PointCentral only chooses to deploy randomized 6 digit codes. Luckily, over 8 years of providing millions of guest and work order codes, we have never had a problem with a guest not retaining their code and no code has ever been hacked.

Cellular Architecture That Is More Reliable Than Wi-Fi

Ah, Wi-Fi. Most of us have grown to develop a love-hate relationship with our Wi-Fi system. When it’s up, it usually works. When it goes down (and it does), then what? Sometimes, you have to roll a truck to manually reset the router. That’s costly. Then there are numerous stories about how easy it is to hack into residential Wi-Fi routers between nonexistent/weak passwords and out-of-date firmware. Let’s face it…Wi-Fi systems are neither reliable nor secure.

On the other hand, cellular is both reliable and secure. Cell towers blanket our community and even when you have too low of a signal for a voice call, there is typically enough signal for two-way IoT device communications. Cellular communications can also be more reliably encrypted and cell towers utilize backup generators to keep running during natural disasters. Did you know there are smart property automation systems available that utilize private cellular networks and don’t piggyback on Wi-Fi? PointCentral systems include a small cellular gateway installed in the property that serves as the communication hub for the entire system. The beauty of cellular is that it is much more reliable and rarely goes down.

Infrastructure That Is Secure

The back end of any property automation system is where the magic happens. It’s also where problems can arise. That’s why it is critical to make sure your smart automation supplier-of-choice has built a rock solid and secure infrastructure.

PointCentral, with their parent company, Alarm.com, have developed world-class systems that are triple encrypted and among the most secure in the world. Two fully redundant SSAE-16 data centers with internal and external firewalls and continuous NOC (Network Operations Center) monitoring software are staffed 24x7x365.

  • There is a private APN for encryption between the home system and the cellular provider, and a private, dedicated VPN (Virtual Private Network) that protects communication between Alarm.com and the cellular provider. And there is end-to-end AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) that protects all communication between the home system, cellular provider and Alarm.com.
  • In addition, there is regular hardware PEN (Penetration) testing that looks for potential flaws, weaknesses and threats. Regular upgrades mitigate the threat from cyber-attacks and improve uptime and security.
  • Lastly, the software app utilizes two-factor authentication. 2FA ensures that only those authorized to use the app gain access to the system, providing an extra level of security.

While there are many other key factors to consider when choosing a property automation system, if you find a supplier that satisfies these 3, such as PointCentral, you are most definitely on the right track.