CA Ventures

Enhancing Physical Security for Student Housing

I’m a huge proponent of doing business with people I like and trust, and working with everyone at Rhombus has been an excellent experience. The Rhombus team is always willing to listen, pivot, and adapt based on our feedback and use case, which has only strengthened our partnership.
- Mark Zikra, SVP of Technology & Innovation at CA Student Living
Student housing

About CA Ventures

CA Student Living (CASL) is a vertically integrated real estate investment management company that specializes in acquiring, developing, and operating Class A, purpose-built student housing assets. The Chicago-based firm is jointly owned by CA Ventures and QuadReal Property Group—two global real estate investment management companies. Since 2004, CA Student Living has delivered more than 35,000 beds in over forty top-tier university markets, and currently manages one of the largest student housing portfolios in the United States. The firm also offers comprehensive, third-party property management services.

The Challenges

Prior to Rhombus, CASL was securing their student properties through a system that was complex, cumbersome, and expensive. They relied on custom-built functions with no centralized management system.

“Our previous system was difficult to maintain and time-consuming to troubleshoot. Having so much hardware made for a very cumbersome project,” said Mark Zikra, SVP of Technology & Innovation at CA Student Living.

Complex User Interface

The complex user interface proved so complicated that it discouraged staff members from using it entirely, making training a huge challenge.

Cumbersome & Expensive Hardware

The network video recorder (NVR) system required substantial equipment, including multiple NVRs that required individual connections and credentials. The hardware was costly to purchase, manage, and maintain.

Poor Reliability

Continuous camera outages caused mounting frustration, many of which had been down for months without notification. This frustration was compounded as the system proved too slow and unreliable to identify culprits of property damage, making it nearly impossible to thoroughly investigate properly and recover costs.

The Solution

As a company rooted in student housing, the security and wellbeing of CASL’s residents is of paramount importance. It’s imperative that the company’s life safety and security systems reflect that commitment.

CASL aims to install cameras across all common spaces to ensure resident safety and satisfaction. To meet these goals, the company needed a solution that was both reliable and user-friendly to deploy at scale. Today, CASL has nearly 1,000 Rhombus smart cameras deployed across several of its student housing assets, with plans to continue to further expand the Rhombus-CASL partnership to additional assets across the U.S.

“CASL is an innovative and forward-looking company, constantly evaluating industry-leading solutions for problems that arise in day-to-day operations,” says Mark. “We are committed to resident satisfaction and wellbeing and given Rhombus’ expertise in streamlined operations and video security, their partnership was a no-brainer.”

The Benefits

Easy Deployment Process

Because CASL develops their assets from the ground up, it’s crucial to have a smooth camera installation process. Rhombus’ deployment process is easy, making CASL’s transition to the system seamless. Installation is simple, and within minutes, installers can view footage in real-time on their phones as they optimize the camera viewing angle.

Increased Safety with Centralized Monitoring

By using Rhombus as a centralized security platform, CASL can remotely monitor common spaces after hours. The centralized dashboard with live video lets security personnel quickly see what’s happening across the facility and respond to incidents in real time.

Time Saved with Intuitive Interface

Rhombus’ easy-to-use interface allows for streamlined operations and helps property managers review footage more quickly and resolve onsite issues in a timely manner.

Improved Resident Accountability & Cost Recovery

Property damage is often a concern in student housing. Having a high-performing video security system helps CASL ensure resident accountability and collect fines when an incident occurs. With Rhombus, investigations are swift and accurate, allowing property managers to quickly pinpoint the person responsible.

“Teams can review footage quickly and accurately from anywhere. By holding residents accountable for damages, we’re able to recover the cost of repair and hopefully discourage future incidents from even occurring,” said Scott Manning, VP of Operations at CASL.

Improved Covid-19 Safety Measures

Rhombus helps CASL enforce COVID-19 safety protocols to protect resident health and wellbeing. With Rhombus’ smart cameras and real-time analytics, property managers have been able to keep amenity spaces open for use while ensuring capacity guidelines are strictly followed.

Better Visibility for Managing Visitors

“I use Rhombus to coordinate my vendors, and also use the data for traffic and visitors quite often,” said Abbie Otto, Senior Property Manager at CA Student Living. “It helps me to place my staff and courtesy patrol in the right place at the right time.”

Property managers can better understand day-to-day onsite operations by using the Rhombus platform. In CASL’s case, Rhombus’ intelligent alerts notify property managers of unauthorized visitors, and AI analytics help them remotely manage vendors, streamlining site operations.

Poduim with two Rhombus cameras and a computer and phone showing the console

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