How the Human Doorman Went Virtual

If you lived in a big city in years past, odds are your building had a doorman. He (and it was usually he) wore a bandmaster-style uniform and a police officer-style billed hat. It looked very official because the doorman’s role was an important one. 

He greeted guests, accepted deliveries, stowed packages for residents, managed apartment access for maintenance or service people and hailed cabs. (Yes, this was before Uber or Lyft.) And human doormen were the guardians of gossip. Like a bartender, you could tell them anything and your secret would be safe.

The Release of the First iPhone was the Beginning of the End for the Human Doorman

Our engagement with and reliance on smart technology has accelerated since the iPhone was first released in 2007. That was the unofficial start of connecting consumers with the computer in their pocket that then connected to other people, processes, data, and even other devices. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the name for this human-device connection. And IoT is particularly relevant to the shift away from the human doorman to the use of a virtual doorman. That’s because IoT enables smart tech. 

What Makes the Virtual Doorman Smart?

In plain English, the same technology that makes a virtual doorman smart is also what makes a video intercom system smart. The enabler of smart is a software application that is hosted on a secure internet server. You may have heard it described as “the cloud” or cloud-based software, even web-based software. They mean the same thing. But here’s the important thing. Cloud software can connect with other software and devices, and hardware, a video intercom system for example. 

How a Virtual Doorman Works

A virtual doorman, sometimes called a cyber doorman, transmits audio and video data from the entry system at the building to an offsite operator who monitors visitors’ requests for property access.

As with an access control system, the person who is monitoring requests for access is most likely to be in another location, even another state or country. And that brings us back to the IoT and the connectedness of things. That’s because all that the person behind the digital doorman needs for remote monitoring is an internet connection. 

Here’s What a Virtual Doorman Does

A virtual doorman integrates video camera surveillance with access control software to remotely grant access for visitors, deliveries and even the occasional resident who is locked out of their building. In a way, the virtual doorman operators are like the eyes and ears of a building or property, remotely monitoring access for security and convenience.

It’s an odd turn of events, isn’t it? The human doorman is replaced by a virtual doorman which requires a human to operate it. So, when a visitor requests access to an entrance that person is communicating with a virtual operator. Then, the off-site human operator answers the video intercom calls for access on either their smartphone or their computer.

Are There Alternatives to a Virtual Doorman?

There are several options to choose from if you’re interested in investing in a virtual doorman for your community. 

Virtual Doorman Operator/Call Center

We’ve discussed the virtual doorman and what it has to offer. Keep in mind that you will have a wide range of hardware costs depending on how many video intercoms and surveillance cameras you need.  In addition to these fixed costs, you will also have a recurring monthly fee for the operator call center. 

Telephone Entry Systems 

Telephone entry systems are affordable but there are several issues you should be aware of.

  • Telephone entry systems Telecom companies like AT&T are phasing out support for copper telephone lines
    • Telephone-based access controls require on-site presence to update or remove resident credentials—and that takes time.
    • Telephone-based access controls do not have video cameras for visibility at community access points

 Smart Access Video Intercoms are rapidly replacing telephone intercoms. Small property owners and community managers will be forced to make a change because telecoms are phasing out the cooper wiring used by telephone intercoms. 

Communities have two choices. They can retrofit their existing hardware with a smart access hub that connects their current set up to cloud-based access control software. Or they can transition to smart video intercoms which come with embedded controllers that automatically connect with cloud access control software. This gives property owners and managers the flexibility to manage access from anywhere at any time. And a smart video intercom system supports both security, efficiency, and convenience.

There are several reputable smart access control companies that offer a variety of technology services and hardware to support, augment and in many instances replace the need for physical security—even a virtual doorman.

LiftMaster’s myQ Community Platform as a Replacement for a Virtual Doorman

The myQ Community platform is a smart-community ecosystem that serves as the backbone for its access control family of products that include a property access management web portal. This ensures the ability to manage access from anywhere, including a door release log, touchscreens, smart video intercoms and companion apps that allow occupants to see who is at their front door, back gate, and other entrances. 

The myQ Community ecosystem also enables users to provide instant access once they confirm visitors’ identities and enable managers to set schedules with unique traceable codes so that delivery personnel, maintenance workers and tradesmen can enter during a specific time of day.

The myQ Community ecosystem has over four million residents using it in 250,000 units in over 30,000 gated communities.

Learn more about the myQ Community smart access control ecosystem.