Fob Appeal: An Introduction to Electronic Keyless Entry Systems

Coliseum Park Apartments, 345 W. 58th Street, 30 W. 60th Street

An alleged break-in still lingers in the memories of the board members of the Coliseum Park Apartments, a cooperative just west of the Time Warner Center. Why only alleged? Because the shareholder had no evidence anyone had illegally entered. No security camera footage. No damaged furniture. Just a valuable stamp collection gone missing. That's one reason the co-op board ultimately chose to install a rigorous new key fob access system that would not only make the building more secure but also give doormen far-reaching oversight of who entered and exited.

The Coliseum Park Apartments consists of two 14-story superblock buildings built in 1957, a block away from the site of the since-demolished New York Coliseum, replaced by the Time Warner Center in 2000. A garage serves as an underground conduit between the two buildings, which front on on W. 58th and W. 60th Streets. There are 32 doors tied into the new access control system, installed by Academy Mailbox, a security company.

That firm worked with Coliseum Park in the past to improve its intercom system and upgrade the security of the office spaces on the first floor of the north building. With the new system every resident is provided with a fob, either in the form of a token that can be attached to a keyring or a card much like those used by hotel patrons.

What About Fob?

Another reason is curb appeal. The board felt a more modern access system would make the co-op more attractive to would-be buyers. Ultimately, the fob technology — already widespread in new condominium developments — will allow the co-op's building management to target and control access. For example, only those who use bikes will be allowed access into the bike room in the basement. Hired dog walkers and weekly cleaning services will be given limited access to only the doors necessary for them to perform their jobs.

And if anyone loses a fob, building superintendent Jason Panarella, who has been very involved in the installation process, will merely deactivate it and issue a new one. A host of logistical problems will evaporate, making the key fobs an attractive option from a managerial perspective.

"As soon as I've used a key fob, [the usage is] going to come up on this computer," says Panarella, pointing to a computer console in the front lobby. "My name is already programmed to the key fob, so it will say I came through this door at this time."

Lord of the Key Ring

"The 50 plus keys, key ring Jason has [had] to carry around [in the past] looks crazy," says Steve Arnold, vice president of Academy. If the superintendent loses it or quits his job, the board has to go through the process of installing a new lock and distributing new keys to the residents.

No more. Soon, the building management company, Akam Associates, will help organize and distribute the new fobs to all the residents, and floor by floor, one by one, they will finally be able to give up their old metal keys and join the 21st century era of electronic access control.