Security vs. Privacy Striking the Balance in Associations

From time immemorial, the home has been synonymous with warmth, comfort and, most importantly, safety. The boards and managers who oversee community associations are aiming to preserve this image by ensuring that safety is their top priority, and that residents should harbor no fear in regard to their well-being, or the well-being of their families and property.

Of course, there must remain a line between a resident's safety and an intrusion upon a resident's privacy, of which a board or management must constantly be aware. With the broad range of technological options available today that purport to monitor and secure properties, their continual evolution is bound to stir up questions regarding privacy. But, for many communities, those issues are outweighed by a desire to have as many safeguards in place as possible.

A Watchful Eye

The ways in which community associations and HOAs approach security have changed over the years, moving from a reliance on security guards and regular patrols to more access control and visual monitoring. The days wherein a manager would hire a private investigator to sit outside and watch a building's entrance for riff-raff are long gone. And while concierges and security guards are still prevalent in many communities, cameras do the heavy lifting when it comes to security monitoring.

The growth in the popularity of cameras can be heavily attributed to the increase of affordable technology in the marketplace, as well as their expanding functionality. "Cameras are on the rise, and, on quite a few occasions, I've been contacted by law enforcement, asking to view footage," says Jay Cohen, director of operations at A. Michael Tyler Realty Corp. in New York City. "Oftentimes, they're quite successful in helping to apprehend a criminal because they're able to capture a very clear image of the perpetrator." Crimes prevented by providing police access to clear camera footage have included thefts, assaults, vandalism, and worse.

Alan Geisenheimer, president of Geisenheimer Insurance Agency in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, concurs and expands on Cohen's observations: "Buyers are seeking security in their homes, and selling points include in-unit alarms, closed circuit TV and gated communities."


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