In many large New York City apartment buildings, a doorman greets residents when they return home. Their doorman is a real, live person who knows your name, opens the door for you, will hail a cab for you, and receives packages on your behalf. And most importantly, a doorman is a person who keeps a watchful eye over your building – when you aren’t there and when you are – keeping out unwanted visitors.
For many years, the doorman was a luxury that smaller apartment buildings could not afford. To employ a doorman full-time means paying a salary, and benefits. Add to that the fact that no one person can man a building twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and you have multiplied the money being paid out by at least triple-fold.
But like many problems of yesteryear, technology has provided modern apartment dwellers with a solution. Enter: the virtual concierge. At a fraction of the cost, residents of small apartment buildings are now experiencing the conveniences of a doorman virtually.
A virtual concierge is a professional who, working for a virtual door entry company, keeps an eye on an apartment building digitally. The system works via a set of cameras, a solid internet connection, and a remote control panel which allows the virtual concierge to grant access to delivery men, residents, and their guests.
In many ways, a virtual concierge does many of the things that a more traditional, physically present doorman does. The virtual concierge is able to greet residents upon arrival to their apartment building, and many residents in buildings that are currently utilizing virtual doormen report having real, personal relationships with their virtual concierge. Virtual concierges are able to grant access to delivery men, and can notify a resident when a package or delivery has arrived. They’re able to unlock doors, and they’re able to restrict access to an unrecognized, unwanted visitor by locking the door.
Of course, for those who have come to appreciate the personal touch of a human that knows one’s name, who opens doors for one, and who hails one’s cab, a virtual concierge would perhaps not provide sufficient service. However, for those residents who live in small buildings that do use virtual concierge, there are many advantages over traditional doormen to report. With a virtual concierge, the pressure of imparting holiday gifts and tips is lifted. Further, some feel that having a person watching out for you from afar affords more privacy than an actual doorman who sees your comings and goings.
Of course, having your doorman at your fingertips rather than, well, being literally there, does have its risks. Since the system relies entirely on the availability of power and internet in both the apartment location and the virtual concierge operating center, a power or internet outage could result in an unmanned building, at least for a period of time. And, there are traditionalists who will argue that having a real live person in the lobby is never going to be surpassed by a person on a screen. However, for the residents being helped daily by virtual concierge in buildings that would otherwise be completely unmanned, the risks are often outweighed by the benefits.