When Cortland Property Management acquired two multi-unit housing properties in Arlington, Va., last year, one of the first orders of business was to coordinate the buildings’ security and access control systems. Working with Pavion, formerly CTSI, based in Chantilly, Va., Cortland added its own network and ensured coordination between its access control and video surveillance systems, resulting in increased security and an improved experience for residents.

The working relationship between Cortland and Pavion began in April 2022 after Cortland acquired an upscale residential building in Arlington, Va., later merging it with another property in what is now known as the Cortland Rosslyn, said Andrew Conner, transactions associate at Cortland. Cortland is a vertically integrated, multifamily real estate investment, development and management company. Headquartered in Atlanta, Cortland manages and is invested in, directly or indirectly, over 250 apartment communities.

Cortland typically focuses on two types of acquisitions: “value-add,” which involves the renovation of a property that needs a facelift, and “core plus,” which are buildings that don’t need renovation, “Where we come in and believe that we can create a better resident experience because of our management style,” Conner said. Having security elements like surveillance cameras improves the resident experience and enhances Cortland’s reputation. “There is something we call operational upside,” he added. “That’s really what a lot of this tech does; it gives us a leg up, allows us to really be a leader in the industry.”

The two Arlington buildings, which were both new constructions built in 2021, were already equipped with sophisticated security equipment, Conner said. During typical acquisitions, “We may run into a property with access control and a camera system, but that’s it,” he said. When Cortland acquired the first apartment complex, the building was already equipped with Brivo access control, Avigilon video surveillance, dormakaba unit locks and ButterflyMX video intercoms.

While this was great news from a security standpoint, it also posed an integration challenge. “I’ve been involved in 160 of these [acquisitions], and this was the most comprehensive low-voltage on-sites that I have seen,” Conner said. “The sheer number of independent systems created a challenge from a Cortland standpoint because we spin up a new network we believe is more secure [upon acquisition], and we want to bring all these different systems behind our new network, especially since they can be accessed from any computer and it’s all cloud based.”

Pavion got involved with Cortland during the due diligence process because the integrator had worked with the original developer of the building, said Daniel McKinney, senior account executive at Pavion.

A big part of the job was determining what types of systems were located where and synchronizing both buildings into a new network, Conner said. “When you have different systems, coordinating with a vendor who might have several different people in these systems, it’s all about getting it all on same page,” Conner said. “When we spin up the new network, we have to ensure that we have the appropriate resources on site from Pavion. That was challenge No. 1; bringing everything behind our new network is the main challenge.”

One of the first things Cortland did was put up a new firewall, Conner said. “If the vendor is not involved with changing static IP addresses, systems will not function and it creates a nightmare for residents and associates on site,” he said. “Pavion had to be heavily involved with the systems onsite and their expertise was needed in everything that was installed there.”

Some of the key elements of the project included installing Brivo access control systems in both properties, which allows cloud-based access and enables Cortland to issue mobile passes to residents. “This is cutting-edge, since a lot of other developers are still using standard prox, cards and key fobs,” McKinney said. “It allows residents to use their existing iPhones to use mobile credentials to access facilities.”

Pavion also installed additional high-definition IP Avigilon video surveillance cameras throughout both facilities. The integrator was also on site during the building ownership cutover, setting up internal networks and showing the new IT team how to use and train staff on the Brivo system, McKinney said.

Although the project was completed in June 2022, Pavion and Cortland are maintaining an ongoing relationship as Cortland requires additional security for other properties they have acquired in the area, and possibly other Cortland properties on the East Coast. “Our go-to is to contact Pavion; they’re involved at all four of our assets in northern Virginia,” Conner said.

McKinney added, “It’s been a great relationship with the coordination between Andrew and myself. We have team meetings to make sure everybody is on the same page and ready to go. When [Cortland] deployed their IT staff we were ready for the conversion to take place and everything went smoothly.”