Apartment industry technologists combine next-generation automation with human analysis in this fight against crime
Mountain View, Calif. — On-Site.com, the top provider of online leasing automation for the apartment business, announced that it is now delivering exceptionally faster results with the help of artificial intelligence.
Apartment management companies rely on On-Site to qualify and screen prospective renters, a process that often involves a criminal background check. Property managers use criminal records in their screening process because individuals with a criminal past are more likely to commit crimes than those without, posing a risk of harm to their neighbors.
"Today, over two-thirds of our customers run criminal and sex offender searches – a rate that has doubled over the last five years as the availability of reliable data has grown," says Jake Harrington, On-Site’s Chief Revenue Officer. "Still, these sources of reliable data are a long ways from being nationwide. We look to technology to boost accuracy and turnaround time without sacrificing quality control."
There is no such thing as a comprehensive national criminal check: many jurisdictions remain isolated from centralized repositories. So-called "national" databases still contain large coverage gaps and are updated inconsistently, requiring expertise in local apartment markets to fill in the blanks.
Criminal records are notoriously difficult to access because they are stored in a hodgepodge of databases in thousands of courthouses across the country. Moreover, the criminal files themselves –- which are sometimes incomplete and are never formatted consistently –- require careful analysis by trained researchers.
"This analysis obviously takes some time," adds Harrington. "Other screening products force you to choose between waiting for an answer, skipping that step because it takes too long, or worse, deciding between the two options on case by case basis, which violates Fair Housing law."
On-Site recently deployed a new weapon in this particular fight against crime. By utilizing intelligent computer "agents" to aggregate, normalize and integrate online data into its platform, the company has boosted turnaround time by as much as 400 percent in some regions without any degradation of quality.
Having seen the success of automated data extraction tools from government databases in other industries, On-Site looked to automated agents as the key to unlocking criminal records.
Based in Silicon Valley, On-Site has wrangled with the byzantine criminal court system since its founding more than a decade ago. California is among the nation’s worst examples of a modern, centralized custodian of public records. Despite being the most populous state, its 58 counties do not talk to one another to contribute their hundreds of millions of records to a single database. And California is not alone -– many of the nation’s major metropolitan areas lack a unified infrastructure.
Historically in these disconnected regions, a court runner needed to travel to a physical courthouse to search at a computer terminal or wait in line while a court clerk browsed through physical file cabinets. In extreme cases, courthouses are only open for business limited hours and days, especially with budgetary reductions. "Live" searches can take a week or more to complete. And even with some courthouses coming online, searching still required human interaction.
Today, On-Site’s computers crawl "live" records online in much of the country. This technique eliminates human error and elevates the work of On-Site’s criminal research team from data entry to analysis and classification. On-Site allows property managers to specify crimes, such as speeding tickets and petty misdemeanors, that should be disregarded under their rental guidelines.
On-Site’s automated agents are currently in place at dozens of counties in California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania and Tennessee -– all locations that would otherwise require a runner to visit the courthouse in person during business hours.
Robust criminal screening is a component of On-Site’s best-in-class online marketing and leasing tools for property managers. The company has been voted Best Resident Screening Service three years in a row and its paperless office platform was a finalist in the First Annual Green Initiatives Awards from Multi-Housing News.
Founded in 1999, On-Site has grown to become the gold standard in the apartment business. On-Site has a proven record of delivering best-in-class technology in a solution that can be implemented today. On-Site’s marketing, leasing and mobile tools deliver lead generation, resident qualification, document storage, e-signatures and cloud computing services. On-Site allows apartment operators to maximize occupancy, enhance quality control, maintain compliance and ensure consistent success at all levels of property operations.