Key fobs for the Garden’s new entry system will be replaced on the 23rd of November:
- When: Wednesday 23rd November from 1-6pm
- Where:West Entrance Lobby of Chelwood House
- What must i bring: Your old fob or £50 deposit for a new Fob + Proof of Residence in Gloucester Square + Photographic Identification
If you are unable to attend on Wednesday, please contact Westbourne Management (via the contact form) to arrange a suitable time to collect from their office on Spring Street (W2).
This page is intended to provide background on the matter of the Garden’s Access Control, and elucidate the need-for for the replacement system.
We would like to take this opportunity to remind resident ratepayers that key fobs are for the exclusive use of ratepayers and their accompanied guests. Key fobs should never be leant to third parties to use the Garden unaccompanied.
A Brief Background
As part of the 2019 Railings Replacement Programme, new power cables were run to either gate location, allowing for the installation of a fob entry system, that was duly installed. This system replaced a traditional entry key with a Eurocylinder in the gate.
In May of 2022, the incoming committee commenced a review of the Gate Entry system in light of concerns that fobs could be easily cloned, the gate was being regularly propped open, and the tracking of fobs was too difficult. The review concluded the new system was inadequate (further details provided below) and the committee began liasing with several different companies with a view to finding an improved replacement system for minimal cost.
The New IP Door Entry System is Ideal for Garden Squares
Following a thorough tender process this Summer, the Garden Committee has instructed Anchor Door Systems to install an IP Door Entry system in the Garden. Whilst we understand this will be the first time IP Door Entry’s technology has been deployed at a Garden Square, it is already used by some of the largest Managing Agents and Estates in the UK, and appears to be uniquely suited to challenges posed to Garden Squares. The system has been subsequently reviewed by our inbound managing agents, who are all too familiar of the issues arround access management and fob cloning, who are suitably impressed by IP Door Entry and looking forward to seeing the system deployed.
Specifically, the new system will provide:
The fobs on the new system will be, genuinely, next to impossible to clone without detection.
If a fob is lost it can be deactivated remotely, and any attempt to subsequently use that fob can be traced back to footage from the recently installed CCTV system.
The system will allow members of the committee and the appointed Managing Agent to open the gate remotely if required.
For example if a resident requires access to check for a lost key, or a contractor requires access to conduct works, we can open the gate remotely without having to attend site.
Issues with the Current System
Cloning Fobs is Far Too Easy
The basic technology behind entry fobs, i.e. presenting a code to a reader, means that cloning entry fobs is a relatively cheap and easy process. The fob system currently installed at Gloucester Square offers little protection in this regard, with local locksmiths able to clone the fobs with a device smaller than your average car key.
That is not to say cloning of fobs can’t be detected / prevented in more advanced systems. The most common method is maintaining an access audit log on both the fob and the entry system, this way the fob maintains an audit log of when it was used, that must reconcile with the record on the entry reader. If a fob is cloned, and both fobs are used therafter, the access log of the two fobs (the original fob, and cloned fob) will no longer match the central system, and both will be blocked.
Unfortunately in multi-entry-point environments, like Gloucester Square with its two gates, such a system has historically required the gates to be networked to a central computer that can maintain an audit log of all gates. This challenge is amplified for Garden Squares, most of which are covered by area Tree Protection Orders, making the running of new data-cables prohibitively expensive (owing to the need for arboricultural assessments, etc).
Fortunately technology in this area is rapidly improving, and the Committee have found a company capable of delivering a much more secure system, without needing to run new cables.
The Incentive to Clone Fobs is Clear
The Garden Committee considers the cloning of fobs to be one of the greatest risks to fairness, security and economic viability of the Garden.
We have heard multiple stories of non-qualifying ratepayers being offered cloned fobs/keys to Gardens/Estates for a one-off fee. Indeed many Gardens and Estates replace fobs on a regular basis in order to combat cloning (though we consider that wasted expense). The incentive to clone fobs is clear, a bad actor can clone a fob (for as little as £15), and give fobs to friends, or even sell them for a significant mark-up.
Whilst access to the Gloucester Square is exclusive to Residents, nearby gardens have set the precedent of charging tens to hundreds of thousands of pounds in order to extend access to new properties (typically whilst replacing an existing ratepayer that is delinquent and having their access terminated). So it is easy to see the value someone might place on a cloned key fob.
Enforcing the Garden Rules is Unneccessarily Difficult
Unfortunately there have been numerous reports (mostly valid) of improper use of the Garden since the Committee took over in May. These reports have included anti-social use of the Garden late at night, unapproved events, and damage to the furniture in the Garden.
In addition, there have been monthly+ incidents of users of the Garden propping the gate open (including one of the unapproved events, and workmen for at least one Direct Access House). The gate remaining closed and locked is a core part of the security the Garden, its users, and the neighbouring houses.
Whilst the 11-strong committee have fairly good representation among our 116 ratepaying households, it is still unneccessarily challenging to investigate these incidents, including the parties responsible, any potential witnesses, and validity of the report.
The new system will allow us to see which household opened which gate at which time, allowing us to follow-up with all users of the Garden during the time an incident has been reported. Whilst the system will of course not track the use of the Garden from the Direct Access Houses, the Garden committee has positioned cameras at either end of the Garden to assist with any investigations (NB: None of the cameras are positioned so to capture private property, the main lawn, or the playground).
The Electrical System Requires Improving (for the Security of Garden Users and Direct Access Houses)
With the current Energy Crisis and potential for power blackouts this winter, the Committee are accutely aware of the need to run the Garden’s security circuit on an Uniteruptable Power Supply. The existing system had the option for backup batteries, but they were never fitted.
Unfortunately, as with most magnetic door locks, a power cut would result in the gates unlocking and anyone being able to enter the Garden. The current wiring setup of the gates is on a multipurpose circuit including sockets used by the gardeners and the events, heightening the chance the relevant RCD will trip and cut power to the gates causing them to open.
The solution decided by the committee is to move all security relevant items onto a dedicated circuit, with an uninteruptable power supply (i.e. backup batteries), that will be able to keep the gates locked for several hours in the event of a power cut.
Will this System Lead to Entry Restrictions (e.g. Closed at Night)?
Categorically No. The committee has no intention, and arguably no authority, to prevent contract-abiding ratepayers from using the Garden any time they choose, providing they do so in a manner that is coherent with the quiet enjoyment terms of the Estate Management Scheme / individual Leases, whilst abiding by the rules set by the Committee.
Beyond contractual covenants, the nature of the Square (13 properties with direct/unfettered access), means that an blanket restriction of use of the garden via gates would be highly prejudicial.
Why Make this Change Now?
The current, unsatisfactory, entry system and its fobs are only 4 years old and still have a modest salvage value that the committee intends to attempt to recover in 2023, after giving the new system a 6 month grace window to prove it can operate faultlessly.
The problem of unauthorised access, antisocial behaviour, and security breaches like the Gate being left open have persisted throughout the summer despite the Committee and Gardeners immediately responding to the majority of incidents.
Will we Have to Pay for the Replaement Fobs?
We do not anticipate charging residents to replace their existing key fob, with an upgraded fob for the new system. This will be on the condition of residents returning their existing fob.
If residents do not return their existing fob, the standard £50 Fob Fee/Deposit will apply.
How Much is the Replacement System Cost?
The cost of these works will be absorbed in the 2022 budget / reserves, there is no intention to raise additional demands. The policy of the committee is not to publish costs online, primarily to protect contractor relationships.
The committee are satisfied the cost for this system is highly competitive, and excelent value for money given the features on offer and issues-at-play.
The price of the Garden’s security enhancements will be revealed to ratepayers in the forecast year-end accounts that will be shared in conjunction with the 2023 demands, due to go out in January.
Is the Existing Setup Wasted?
Far from it. The committee have been careful to select the new supplier on the basis of being able to install new entry readers / fobs without needing to run network cables or install new posts, thereby incurring minimal costs and avoiding disruption to the garden.
The only items that will be scrapped (sold on as second hand) are the entry readers, the controllers, and the fobs. All other components will be reused.