Security & tenant safety

assessments should also be carried out and signed off by external bodies. Alarm, exit, and evacuation strategies also need to be implemented and, in terms of the operation of the building, inspection rotas should be established so that staff are consistently checking the building for potential fire hazards. “There are dangers, and we can’t afford to not be paranoid about them”, says Cuanalo, “we’ve got to overengineer.” With the relative density of building, potential of fire occurrence and harm

caused by fire are dramatically increased in student accommodation, the maintenance of a single clear entrance and exit is also pivotal - “you need to design safety into the way people enter buildings and leave buildings,” comments Cuanalo. Local staff should also instil safety into their management structure, getting to know the tenants by name and face, and controlling access to non residents. Management teams should know how many individuals are in the building at all times.

COMMUNICATION Cuanalo also stresses getting the right message across to tenants as key to increasing levels of safety on site. Establishing a “network of trust,” as Cuanalo puts it, at each property is essential. Beyond face-to-face conversation between staff and tenants and printed material such as leaflets, communication can be made through social media and email. Arrival events for incoming students are also praised as good opportunities to

educate individuals about potential risks, standard procedures and safety strategies, as well as to foster a sense of community among tenants themselves. “This is the online generation, and what they tend to do is buy everything

online,” Cuanalo observes. Having separate post boxes or pidgeon holes for each student can serve as a signifier of specific tenants’ levels of activity as uncollected post and parcels accumulate implying potential concern. “There are a number of little touch-points that can build up the picture,” says Cuanalo “and our managers know to look out for these things.” “We also want tenants to look out for each other,” says Cuanalo. He notes how students are more prone to feeling lonely, even unstable, when they

first leave home. “Trust at the more informal level, led by student wardens in cooperation and local staff is also ideal – it’s not just about the personal safety, but also the general well being of the students.”

Heriberto Cuanalo is the CEO of Collegiate AC | HMM March 2018 | 49

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