Access is only granted to e.property through a logon screen which requires a matched set of user name, password and serial number. A serial number is allocated to each user when a contract is signed, and is unique to that user. The user never types the serial number and is not aware of it being transmitted to the e.property server.
Passwords are maintained by the individual users and no-one else. Each user is given an initial password which should be changed immediately, so that not even CompuSource is able to know a user's password.
To forestall computer hackers who attempt to bypass the logon procedure, security is checked on every information request by transmitting the serial number transparently (invisible to the user) and checking it against the original logon.
If a computer hacker attempts to subsequently change the serial number to impersonate someone else, the information sent back by e.property will not be readable because only the machine which has the software with the correct serial number will be able to receive and decode the information sent back from e. property.
Each user is given privileges according to their role: either broker or landlord. A broker user is unable to perform landlord functions, or even see that they exist. Similarly a landlord has no access to broker functions.
Landlords may only view or modify their own properties, avoiding one landlord seeing what another has on offer.
Landlords can see all the introductions and offers for their properties, but not those of any other landlord.
Brokers may view any properties to which the landlord has granted them access. The access permissions are based on closed groups, which are explained in the next section. Brokers are not allowed to update properties, or query any aspect of an introduction or offer that was submitted by another broker.
A landlord may wish to restrict a certain property to a specific group of brokers for a limited time period before opening up the vacancy to a broader group of brokers, or even the entire broker community.
e.property achieves this level of privacy of a landlord's information by preventing brokers from seeing any properties to which they have not been specifically granted permission.
A landlord can restrict access to specific buildings or even specific vacancies within a building and can assign a different group of brokers to each one, should this be desired.
A broker not mentioned within the group cannot even discover the existence of the property. This mechanism works on the same basis as access control security on common LANs (local area networks).
A group is composed of members who can either be companies (in which case all users in that company are members of the group) or individual users within a company.
A group can consist of any combination of companies and users.
As an example, a landlord could specify that everyone in some companies are members of the group, while specifically listing individual users from other companies with whom the landlord has a weaker relationship.
The Landlord has full control over who belongs to the group. A simple set of screens lets the Landlord manage the membership independently of CompuSource.
There is no limit to the number of different groups that can be defined, so ultimately each building or vacant space could be given a separate group specification.
e.property tracks the usage activity of every user on the system, logging who accessed what information and when.
It also records who altered the information on the database, so a complete audit trail is possible.
This usage log and audit trail is independent of the access security mechanisms and so provides double verification that security has not been compromised, thereby assuring landlords and brokers of the confidentiality of the information kept on e.property.
It is the Landlord's responsibility to keep the property information accurate and up-to-date, since the Landlord is in the best position to provide the information. Brokers will be better able to market the Landlord's properties the more relevant and accurate information they receive. Landlords that provide minimal information or those that do not maintain the accuracy of the information will tend to lose business to those landlords that are more open and more responsive to the market.
For landlords with a large property portfolio, CompuSource suggests a permanent computer link between itself and the Landlord so that information regarding the status of properties can be exchanged between the CompuSource database and the Landlord's own systems. This information exchange can be accomplished with EDI (electronic data interchange), thereby avoiding the need to manually update two systems. Information will be entered once on one system and the relevant information will be automatically echoed to the other system.
As an example, when a property becomes vacant on the Landlord's computer system, an electronic notification can be sent to CompuSource which will automatically synchronise its database with that of the Landlord's.
As a result, brokers can have complete faith in the integrity of the information seen on e.property, and the Landlord has achieved a new marketing channel.
e.property provides extensive and complete data-entry screens that allow a Landlord to publish its own properties, define which brokers are allowed access, and manage the processing of introductions and offers.
The Landlord is always in control of its own information, there is no need to ask CompuSource to be involved.
As soon as the information is updated, the new information is immediately available to all authorised brokers, thereby eliminating the need for brokers to phone the Landlord to verify details such as whether the property has been let in the meantime.
Landlords may choose to ask CompuSource to provide all the necessary computer facilities and data updating services for a fee. It is the responsibility of the Landlord to provide CompuSource with all relevant information regarding its properties and to notify CompuSource of all vacancies and accepted offers.
CompuSource will publish the information regarding the Landlord's properties on e.property and will notify the Landlord of all introductions and offers submitted via e.property.