Virtual Concierge Systems: Security Functions

March 8, 2019

In the first article of our Virtual Concierge Series we reviewed the Business and Security Benefits of Virtual Concierge Systems. In this second instalment, we’ll be exploring the security benefits provided by these systems.

What are the Security Benefits of a Virtual Concierge System?

  1. Scene Capture.
  2. Facial Recognition.
  3. Access Control.
  4. Audio Monitoring.
  5. Gunshot Monitoring.
  6. Card Key Maintenance.
  7. System Management

According to USNews, Canada ranks as the third best country in the world to live, however, when it comes to safety, Canada ranks eighth on the list [ii].

The primary goal of the virtual concierge system is to instil a sense of security for the residents and the buildings they occupy.

The Benefits of a Virtual Concierge System for Housing and Social Housing.

Virtual Concierge Systems provide real security benefits while instilling a sense of security for residents and guests.

Security Monitoring

Security is a combination of monitoring and enforcement. Individuals feel secure when they have faith that the virtual concierge system is protecting their homes or interest.

When threats of both external and internal sources are present, residents require evidence of careful monitoring and quick response time in order to feel secure.

Monitoring in a virtual concierge system is accomplished primarily by remote video capture and motion detectors.

Scene Recognition

Video cameras are not a new concept in security monitoring. The challenge, however, is just because a camera is present does not mean that anyone’s looking at it.

Security is only as good as those who monitor the screens. Security monitoring can be a very dull activity, and it can be virtually impossible to watch over 100 cameras at a time.

Video monitoring can be integrated with motion detection technology, this can help a virtual concierge system flag suspicious or unexpected behaviour in an area where nothing should be happening.

Luckily, there is a new capability that’s now available, and it is called scene recognition technology. This technology is able to monitor a scene with many moving parts and recognizes and illegal situation.


Auckland New Zealand has put this technology to work on level railroad crossings and is able to recognize when a car crosses the level crossing illegally. When this happens, the scene recognition technology records the display, captures the license plate, makes a traffic ticket package, and sends it to a security agent to verify and charge the driver.

7 Functions of a Virtual Concierge System


Function #1: Scene Capture

Scene capture technology continuously records every image in the environment.

This provides a history file from every camera and provides security agents with detailed information of every person who enters and leaves the building.

With this ability, a security agent is able to examine what happened when an incident occurred.

This is very attractive to residents because there is no more “he said she said” in situations where a person denies that they did something to another because there is a record of the incident.

Function #2: Facial Recognition

Facial recognition enables a virtual concierge system to recognize and verify every person who enters the property.

It provides instant identification of authorized people, immediate flagging of unauthorized individuals, such as those who have restraining orders, or people that no one knows.

It is also possible to identify known criminals. However, this feature may not be available at all locations since it may be deemed as a breach of the rights of an individual.

Function #3: Access Control

All virtual concierge systems must provide controlled access to all buildings and complexes. The essential functions that all systems need to provide include:

  •    Access control of all key cards to a room or group of rooms based on the occupant’s rights.
  •    Access control based on their roles such as cleaning or maintenance staff.
  •    One time time-based access for specialized repair companies.
  •    The ability to revoke access instantly.

Function #4: Audio Monitoring

A critical requirement for feeling secure is the ability to get help fast.

Simple help requests can be accomplished by intercoms that are placed inside the building. Although this is good, it doesn’t help if someone needs assistance quickly as in the case of a robbery or an accident.

A useful function is audio monitoring technology, this listens for calls of help and immediately brings security resources attention to the situation, that both monitors the situation and brings a physical presence to the scene.  

Function #5: Gunshot Monitoring

Gunshot monitoring is a more advanced audio monitoring system. It listens for gunshots and is able to triangulate on the sound to identify precisely where the shot was fired and what type of weapon was used.

This is particularly useful in monitoring open spaces between buildings in a complex.

In some US cities, it’s been tied to the gun registry to identify owners of the specific type of gun that was fired. It always dispatches an officer directly to the scene immediately upon the weapon being fired.

Function #6: Card Key Maintenance

Card key maintenance demands a set of unique functional requirements. The primary access grant and revoke functions are required by all virtual concierge systems.

The ability to monitor many buildings from one system is a critical requirement for many complexes.

Many complexes also want the ability to authorize a card key or deauthorize a card key to be available to people other than the security organization such as senior managers or HR.

Function #7: System Management

The last category of functions includes; ensuring that the security and reliability of the virtual concierge system itself and the protection of the data on the system.

The tasks required include:

  •    Encryption on all key cards and data
  •    Redundancy of storage on all servers
  •    Secure server access
  •    Secure network management
  •    Firewalls with the ability to detect unusual data access requests from any controller
  •    Full backup and archiving services

In most cases, these functions are best delivered by a professional managed services provider.

The functions of a virtual concierge system depend on the risks that the residents feel are present.

Developing the functional spec requires a robust business view to be generated that captures those fears and perceived threats.

Our next article in the Virtual Concierge Series will cover the Technical Architecture of a Virtual Concierge System.

To learn more about a virtual concierge program and, how it can play a role in providing your residents improved quality of life join us on March 26 at 12 pm, where will discuss The Future of Social Housing: How To Run a Successful Virtual Concierge Program.

About the Author

Bill is the Digital Strategist for FoxNet Solutions. Formerly the Cloud Chief Technologist for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Canada, Bill has provided Hybrid IT and IoT Strategic Planning advisory and planning services to over fifty Private and Public sector clients to help them migrate to a Hybrid IT Cloud Operating model. These transformation plans have helped both government and industry reduce the cost of IT, re-engineer their IT governance models, and reduce the overall complexity of IT. Bill is also a member of the Open Alliance for Cloud Adoption Team and has co-authored several documents on Cloud Maturity and Hybrid IT implementation.


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