Oct 082013
 
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It’s important to know who’s coming in and out of a building. That way, crimes can be prevented, and if they do occur, they can be solved more easily. No one wants to live somewhere that isn’t safe. But does everyone need to know everyone’s business all the time?

According to an article in The New York Times, after some burglaries at fancy buildings in Manhattan, property managers are considering installing more security cameras throughout the buildings, on top of whatever security measures they already have (doormen, cameras just in common areas, laser mazes, etc.). The issue, then, of course becomes one of security vs. privacy. Would residents prefer the peace of mind knowing that all their actions in the building are recorded, or would they be freaked out that all their actions in the building are recorded?

But really, in this day and age, is there a really an expectation of privacy for, like, anything? People document everything on social media, and we know that what we post will be searchable online forever. Personally, I think I’d opt for safety, especially if the community was student housing, or in an unsafe neighborhood. A lot of people have hundreds of dollars worth of electronics in their apartments, plus money and jewelry (and that’s not counting the jeweled tiaras and scepters). That can be a huge green light for robbers. What’s a little invasion of privacy when it comes to keeping yourself safe? But then again, I’m a huge baby—I still check the bathtub every time to make sure there’s not a dead woman in it like in The Shining. Also, I have a younger brother, so I growing up I came to realize most things are not private (younger brother, Big Brother, there’s really no difference).

I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t let that pizza guy in for the fourth time this week. Why don’t you try a salad?

But, of course, there is something to be said about not having someone watching your every move. Who really wants to know someone is watching—and probably judging—them when they step out of their apartments without brushing their hair or putting on pants to run to the garbage chute to dispose of the five empty bottles of pinot grigio?

If you do decide to have additional cameras in your residential communities, there are other issues that aren’t strictly about security. For one thing, cameras are expensive, as are all the monitoring equipment. Plus it’s going to cost a lot to have everything installed. Plus you need to pay someone to monitor all the cameras. And then the building’s popcorn costs are going to double.

You also have to decide where to put the cameras. Just in the lobby? At the service entrances? Laundry room? Elevators? All the hallways? It can get ridiculous after awhile.

And then there’s the matter of aesthetics. Mounted cameras all over the community don’t really look that nice. I mean, I guess you could get a bunch of nanny cams to hide them, but I think hallways and lobbies filled with stuffed animals would be a lot creepier than ones with cameras. At least with the cameras you know where to turn when you’re ready for your close up.

So what do you think? Would you consider adding more security cameras to your building (or do you have a lot already)? Do you think the residents would rather have a lot of cameras for their safety, or are they more concerned about their privacy?

-Jessica Fiur, Senior Editor

Photo credit: Opka

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  5 Responses to “‘What Renters Want’ with Jessica Fiur: Security vs. Privacy: The Great Apartment Debate”

  1. I would vote for security cameras. Apartments have so many people coming and going; maintenance personnel, delivery personnel, a cleaning service, visitors and more, a record is a good idea.

  2. This post is hilarious! I do think about the privacy vs. security dilemma, too. With every app and device we have Big Brother-ing us in some way, we have so little privacy that I feel we should fight for the meager amount that we have.

    With that said, criminals also take advantage of privacy/secrecy so I’d opt for security for my residents. I’ve heard residents leave a community because it wasn’t safe. I haven’t heard of low retention rates due to a lack of privacy.

    As for the issue of hiding the cameras without teddy bears…hmm. Let me know when you find a non-creepy solution to that!

  3. I just doubled the number of cameras at my apartments two weeks ago, and already I have residents asking me to check the video to find out who was knocking on their door at 4AM, did the cameras see anyone tampering with their car, etc. Obviously, they welcome the additional cameras. Cameras cover only building exteriors and common areas.

  4. Cameras on the exterior, in my opinion, are always welcome.

  5. What about a key card system that records each use of a perimeter door and a board that limits the keys an owner can have.

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