CRE and The Internet of Things - Are you Ready?

Technology usage is increasing at a lightning-fast pace in commercial real estate. Right now, much of the focus is on cloud-based platforms like Honest Buildings and Hightower, which help streamline and improve processes such as construction and property management. But thanks to the Internet of Things – the non-computer smart devices connected to the web – we are about to see a lot more attention paid to the hardware that’s already starting to transform the industry in a significant manner.

There’s an almost endless number of ways that smart devices can be utilized in commercial real estate development and management. For example, building automation systems can optimize energy usage by adjusting heating and cooling systems based on the needs of individual floors and offices. Data-driven devices can also be used to monitor things like elevator and parking garage usage in order to improve efficiency. Imagine elevators that can use past trends to predict when and where they’ll be needed, or the parking garage that can automatically direct employees to a specific space that has just become available.

How about when trouble arises? The Internet of Things can also offer solutions to everyday maintenance issues like a burnt-out common area lightbulb or malfunctioning automatic door. Why wait for a complaint call from your tenants when your team could be notified in real-time as soon as there is a problem?

Smart devices can also be used in the commercial space to keep minor issues from escalating into more serious ones. Take, for example, a small leak. Without proper attention, it could eventually result in the flooding of multiple offices and potentially even structural damage. But with the aid of moisture-detecting sensors, even the most minor drip can be discovered and rectified almost immediately.

For commercial real estate companies, one of the biggest advantages of the Internet of Things will be improved performance through automation. Limited human involvement means less room for error, and in turn, better results. Companies can also benefit from the reduced amount of human capital needed to manage properties and fewer hours wasted on mundane tasks.

It won’t just be building owners and property managers benefiting from the Internet of Things though – tenants will also be able to implement new technologies to improve the way they use and manage their space. Some of the most popular smart devices already connected include self-regulating thermostats and smart lighting systems, and tools like intelligent security systems and controlled-access locks are gaining popularity by the day.

As the Internet of Things becomes more commonplace in commercial real estate over the next couple of years, early-adopting tenants – especially those in tech-related fields – are going to come to expect whatever space they lease to be equipped with these types of devices.

But getting your property ready for the Internet of Things involves more than just installing sensors and automation systems – it also means ensuring that your tech infrastructure has the capacity to handle the influx of new devices.

At the top of the list of concerns for preparing a building for the Internet of Things is its available bandwidth and redundancy. While most devices won’t need to transfer large amounts of data, a complex system could certainly require access to a reliable, high-speed Internet connection.

You also want to have multiple service providers connected to your network so that your building won’t experience an interruption in connectivity in the event of a problem with one of them. But utilizing redundancy to safeguard against downtime isn’t only important for connecting the Internet of Things – modern tenants are already relying on redundant connections to avoid productivity-killing outages and keep their businesses running smoothly. Having a diverse set of providers hooked into your building is a fundamental component  to achieving Wired Certification.

The Internet of Things is becoming increasingly prevalent in the commercial real estate industry, and we can expect the prominence of smart devices to increase further in the coming years. As a developer or building manager, now is the time to begin considering how your properties could benefit from this game-changing technology while having a smart building is still a competitive advantage rather than a requirement.

 

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