By 2025, Omdia predicts that almost 40% of all U.S. apartments will be considered smart properties, featuring technology such as smart lights and smart locks. Financial projections support this statistic. The global smart apartments market is expected to balloon to $4.71 billion by 2026 at a CAGR of 15.3%.
But numbers alone don’t always paint the whole picture. What’s going on behind the scenes? How are apartment communities deciding if and when to digitize their locks?
We wanted to know specifically how property management professionals are using smart locks (also called electronic locks or keyless entry) and what’s happening to traditional metal keys. To find out, we surveyed multifamily professionals and published the results in our research report, “Smart Locks vs. Metal Keys: How are multifamily communities managing access control in 2022 and beyond?”
The results revealed a few trends.
Smart Locks Are Popular, but Metal Keys Aren’t Going Anywhere
In our survey, nearly half of respondents (47%) said their community uses smart locks in some capacity. Of those, 75% said they still use traditional keys for common areas, offices, apartment backups, and storage areas.
75% said they still use traditional keys for common areas, offices, apartment backups, and storage areas.
It’s clear that smart locks are becoming more commonplace. However, not everyone is on board with them. Fifty-three percent still use physical keys exclusively, with 67% of those saying they have no plans to implement smart locks.
Age Affects Attitudes Toward Smart Technology
It wasn’t a surprise to find that younger demographics — specifically ages 18-34 — prefer electronic locks. Those over age 45 favor metal keys. This trend revealed itself most in smart lock communities with an older demographic, who struggled with using keyless entry systems.
Security Is a Priority for Everyone
Of the respondents who use smart locks in some capacity, nearly half (48%) said they implemented them because they provide better security than traditional locks. Some of the top reasons people feel they’re more secure is the ability to create a digital log of every time someone accesses an apartment and the ability to reset locks without waiting for them to be rekeyed. In keeping with respondents’ focus on improving security, 40% secure fobs or cards in an electronic key control system.
Overall, though, only 28% of respondents said they believe smart locks are safer than traditional keys. Several respondents expressed concern about hacking, residents getting locked out (or in) when the lock malfunctions, and the risk of employees creating master key fobs.
Only 28% of respondents said they believe smart locks are safer than traditional keys.
Although respondents are split on whether smart locks or traditional keys are safer, it’s clear that everyone prioritizes security. Check out the infographic below for more insights.
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Regardless of whether or not your community is more tech forward or traditional, considering your community’s unique needs and addressing security risks are key. That’s the smart approach to access control.