Residential living: GSM technology powers highly customised, secure and effective door entry

The Great Northern Tower is an impressive 72-metre (236 ft) high-rise tower block tailor made for residential living. With 25 floors, it’s home to 287 self-contained apartments in the heart of Manchester. An effective door entry system plays a critical role in convenient, secure and flexible access control as well as the safety and wellbeing of residents. The tower block has a concierge service too that also requires specific authorisation for entry into and exit out of the building.

Challenges with existing system

The building was completed in 2007 and fitted with a door entry system that, 15 years later, was hugely outdated and causing issues for entry into the tower block by residents, visitors and for concierge use too.

Residents were not consistently notified when someone was calling their apartment, so they often missed deliveries and visitors. Parts of the system were failing and proving to be very expensive to replace. Residents enter the tower block via a fob system and although this operated normally, the rest of the system was deteriorating.

A key challenge also presented itself in how a flat or apartment was called. The existing system was very complicated, and visitors had to look up a flat number on the system and then get a three-digit code to dial. This often led to people, from visiting friends and family to tradespeople and delivery drivers, dialling the wrong apartments and calling the wrong people.

There also needed to be a specific concierge function on the system that could alert the main reception desk of a tradesperson coming to visit, or a parcel being delivered, for a resident who wasn’t home.

A bespoke system featuring GSM technology

Replacing the system with a bespoke solution but retaining the existing access control fob reader aspect, all fitted within a glass wall, was highly complex. Installer Access Ability UK Ltd opted to fit a Videx 4G GSM system that was highly customised, integrated perfectly with the existing fob reader but, crucially, solved the key entry challenges residents and the concierge team were facing.

Barry Kimber, a director at Access Ability UK Ltd, said: “One major issue that we needed to solve was to enable effective, easy but secure door entry for residents to authorise entry in and out of the tower block. By installing a GSM intercom system with a VX2200 panel it meant residents could receive notification of someone at the entrance straight to their phone, whether they were home or not. For example, they could be on holiday or at work but receive a call to say a delivery had arrived, grant entry to the courier driver who can leave the parcel with concierge for safe keeping until the resident returns. In terms of calling each flat, visitors now simply need to enter the number of the flat and it calls that flat directly – there’s no need to look the flat number up on the system to dial a code to then input.

“The GSM powered intercom system also enables the concierge team to authorise entry for visitors to deliver parcels or fix appliances for example, when the resident is away. Conveniently, the intercom is very easy to adapt and modify and the concierge team can programme the system both locally and remotely when flat residence changes as people move into and out of the tower block.”

Highly customised to exact specifications

Alongside the GSM technology, Videx also supplied a highly customised entry panel that was not only specifically manufactured for The Great Northern Tower, to sit within a very difficult-to-navigate glass wall, and feature the existing third-party access control reader, but also carried bespoke engraving too. For example, the block numbers are clearly identified as well as the concierge service button.

Barry Kimber continued: “It’s probably the most challenging entry solution I have fitted but working closely with Videx ensured the job could be done. Many other installers, and manufacturers, would have walked away from the refit but Videx really showed their commitment to providing a highly customised, pretty much exclusive, and tailor-made system to meet the entry needs of the Great Northern Tower. Their customer care, technical support and commitment to getting the job done and to a very high standard was second to none.”

GSM benefits

The Videx 4G GSM system is extremely flexible and provides the utmost convenience and security to users. Programming can be done via apps, text messages and PC software both local and remotely.

The digital 4G intercoms can support up to 1000 apartments each with coded access and proximity access as additions to the dial to open access control option. Up to 10 free access periods can be programmed for any of the outputs on the 4G GSM’s. Great for public access at busy times.

Mark Roud at Videx UK said: “Our 4G GSM solution is highly versatile and convenient, providing an excellent access control and entry system for a wide range of properties and developments. It can integrate seamlessly with third party applications, like it has in this specific installation with the existing fob reader and is fully customisable meaning additional coded access keypads and proximity readers for other entrances can be added and conveniently managed from one place.”

For more information about the Videx 4G GSM system, please visit:

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About the Author: Michael O'Sullivan