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Smart MDU Buildings: Difference between piecemeal IoT solutions and technology platform

Smart MDU Buildings: Difference between piecemeal IoT solutions and technology platform

In the realm of property technology for smart MDU buildings, the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions has emerged as a game-changer for property managers seeking to optimize operations and enhance tenant experiences. However, within the spectrum of IoT implementation, two distinct approaches have emerged: piecemeal IoT and platform technology. Understanding the differences between these approaches is crucial for property managers aiming to leverage IoT effectively in their properties.

MDU Building Pain Points: Deploying Piecemeal IoT

Piece-meal IoT involves the deployment of individual IoT devices or systems to tackle specific challenges within a property. For instance, a property manager might install smart thermostats for energy efficiency, perimeter smart access control for improved security, and leak detection sensors for proactive maintenance. Each of these technologies would function separately, use its own software, and require individual apps.

Typical IoT hardware used in Multi-dwelling Units:
1. Smart Home Devices – smart locks, smart thermostat, leak sensors, Alexa
2. Perimeter Access Control – touchless access readers, video intercoms
3. Parking Control – vehicle reader for gates and garages
4. Package Room – Intercom with time & date stamp, access with PIN code

While piece-meal IoT solutions offer targeted solutions to immediate pain points, they often result in disparate systems that lack integration. Property managers may find themselves grappling with data silos, compatibility issues, and the complexity of managing multiple IoT platforms simultaneously. Moreover, as the property’s needs evolve, scalability becomes a concern, necessitating frequent updates and adjustments to accommodate new devices and functionalities.

Instead, consider an enterprise-level technology platform to tie together the right balance of smart technology, making it easier for residents and teams to use, operate and manage.

Technology Platform for MDU Buildings

In contrast, platform technology presents a comprehensive approach to IoT implementation, offering a centralized hub where various IoT devices and systems converge within a unified framework. A robust IoT platform provides seamless integration of diverse sensors, devices, and applications, facilitating data exchange and interoperability across the property.

By leveraging platform technology, property managers can streamline operations, improve efficiency, and enhance tenant experiences. With a unified dashboard and centralized control, managers gain real-time visibility into property performance, enabling informed decision-making and proactive management. Moreover, platform technology enables data analytics and predictive insights, empowering managers to optimize resource allocation, anticipate maintenance needs, and drive strategic initiatives.

Learn More About Smart MDU Solutions

Choosing the Right Path Forward

As MDU property managers navigate the complexities of IoT adoption, they must carefully weigh the pros and cons of piece-meal IoT versus platform technology. While out-of-the-box solutions offer immediate solutions to specific pain points, they may fall short in delivering the seamless integration and scalability offered by platform technology.

Investing in a robust IoT platform lays the foundation for long-term success, providing the agility, integration, and innovation necessary to unlock the full potential of IoT in property management. By embracing platform technology, property managers can harness the transformative power of IoT to drive operational efficiency, optimize resource utilization, and deliver exceptional experiences for tenants.

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Read More on Smart Technology for Multifamily

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How Multifamily is Turning Headwinds into Tailwinds for the Future

How Multifamily is Turning Headwinds into Tailwinds for the Future

Innovative ways Multifamily is rethinking operations, maintenance, and leasing:

  1. Artificial intelligence helps better serve residents and free up staff
  2. Adoption of a centralized approach to specific daily operations
  3. Invest in smart tech to reduce energy costs
  4. Self-guided tour technology plays a key role centralized leasing

Enter Gen Z and Forever Renters

2023 appears to be an extension of 2022, bringing along elevated rates and escalating costs. In a 2022 National Apartment Association poll, 74% of property managers and operators identified labor shortages as one of their biggest challenges. This year, the focus is on interest rates and rising costs, especially given the uncertain economic outlook. However, multifamily is enjoying some tailwinds that promote stability in 2023. Specifically, the high cost of owning single-family homes and a shortage of housing options are contributing to a favorable situation for multifamily properties to attract renters. According to the Yardi Matrix 2023 Outlook, “rents will be supported by the lack of housing options, as single-family development declines and first-time homebuyers are excluded. Additionally, property owners will bring renewal rents closer to the rates on new leases.”

Using AI tools to improve efficiency

Industry leader, Mark-Taylor Residential, is spearheading the development and use of “Hobbes”, an AI tool developed by Union in support of Union’s Central Office software. Hobbes supports various aspects of property management, ranging from leasing to maintenance. According to John Carlson, the more Hobbes interacts with the marketplace, the more it learns and evolves. Over the next two years, Hobbes will be asked to perform tasks that are beyond the capabilities of today’s AI.

Currently, the tool processes an impressive 42% of prospective resident appointments. Hobbes will aid leasing agents by providing real-time information through Union’s CRM dashboard. This functionality will enhance the personal interaction between leasing agents and prospective residents with meaningful artificial intelligence.

Moreover, Hobbes will enable property management companies to solve staffing shortage issues, reduce cost per lead, empower self-service to support the growing renter preference for real time digital communication, and measurably improve the overall renter experience.

Apply principles of thinking different

Centralized Thinking.
Implementing a centralized approach to day-to-day operations can enable property operators to achieve cost savings and provide more efficient service to residents. John Carlson explains in a podcast by Apartment Academy that in the past, the old model did not share staff between locations. For instance, if there were 9 assets in one location and 5 in another, personnel were not shared between locations. Under this model, if property “A” had 20 work orders and property “B” had only 5, personnel would be re-allocated accordingly.

Today’s new normal demands that we evolve the way we operate – down to the fundamentals. We are proud to evolve for the future of multifamily management with Mark-Taylor’s Integrated Operations Network (ION). Mark-Taylor goes beyond centralized leasing – integrating the operational functions of lead management, resident relations, financial operations, and service.  As a fully integrated management solution, we are able to unlock a new standard of peak performance. Our unique hybrid model meets the consumer shift to self-service, supports our internal teams and serves our clients through innovative technologies.

How Smart Tech Fits In.
Smart technology is essential for a centralized model in multifamily buildings. It integrates various building systems such as HVAC, lighting, security, and access control into a single platform, which is managed centrally. Data from sensors and devices is collected throughout buildings to provide insights into utility usage and maintenance needs.

Prioritize energy efficiency

Property operators are taking tactical steps to manage utility cost in strategic areas of properties. Doing it manually is just too time-consuming and expensive. Installing smart technology can prove to be very effective, especially in vacant units and common areas – upwards of 15% in savings. Managers can easily set preferences and set heating and cooling standards using a central dashboard.

Recognize the customer shift to self-service

Gen Z and Millennials prefer a “low-touch” experience when leasing a property. Typically, leasing teams spend a lot of time scheduling property tours rather than giving them. Self-guided tour technology automates the entire process, from scheduling and identity verification to wayfinding, enabling prospective residents to tour properties without a leasing agent present. Once the tour is completed, the prospect’s profile and desired move-in data are shared with the CRM, which can help offset the cost of adding additional staff to the leasing office and eliminate the need to fill a vacant position.

60% of residents said they do not need to have contact with staff during the leasing process. – Mark Taylor Resident Survey

Everyone wins with smart access

Smart access provides efficiency, convenience, and security to everyone. By implementing a keyless entry system, costly physical key track systems can be eliminated, saving staff time and an estimated $4,000 per location annually, not to mention eliminating the liability of copied master keys.

Efficiency is improved when tenants move out. On-site staff can easily transfer the unit from occupied to vacant, triggering a succession of automated actions, including changing access codes for locks, creating work orders for turn requests, adjusting temperature to conserve energy, and turning off lights.

In addition, smart locks enable temporary access to model units for self-guided tours.

Manage multifamily building essentials from one place

Heather Moore of Greystar, America’s largest property management firm, explained that, “One of the top questions we get from clients is regarding the number of apps needed for building management. Nobody wants to come home to their apartment and use one app to pay their rent, another app to fix their leaking faucet, and a third app to open the front door. Residents want a full-scale experience that’s managed in one place.”

iApartments technology platform gives residents the smart apartment living experience on the front end while delivering operating efficiencies and energy cost savings on the back end for operators.

iApartments provides innovative smart technology for Multifamily

iApartments transforms multifamily properties into intelligent apartment communities. Founded by multifamily and smart home trailblazers, iApartments combines its next-gen automation technology with a disruptive approach that removes the upfront challenges for new and retrofit communities so they can leverage an enterprise-level platform, with the simplicity and ease-of-use they need.

From its best-of-breed smart home solution that improves asset protection to smart access and self-guided tours, iApartments enhances the living experience for residents, maximizes operational efficiencies for property managers and increases Net Operating Income (NOI) for property owners, while delivering on ESG goals. iApartments is trusted by the world’s largest apartment operators.

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The Right Balance of Smart Home Technology for Apartments

The Right Balance of Smart Home Technology for Apartments

Smart home essentials for apartments

Coming up with the right balance of smart home essentials ultimately depends on the needs and preferences of the residents and the goals of the property owners and managers. However, there are some general considerations that can help find the optimal balance:

  1. Determine the most pressing needs: Before implementing any smart technology, assess the most pressing needs of the residents and the property. This may include security, energy efficiency, convenience, or other factors.
  2. Compatibility is Key: If multiple smart devices are being implemented, make sure they are compatible with each other and can integrate seamlessly.
  3. Focus on user experience: Smart technology should be user-friendly and easy to use for residents of all ages and tech-savviness levels. Providing proper training and support can also improve the user experience.
  4. Consider scalability: Consider the potential for future expansion and scalability of the smart technology being implemented. A smart technology platform will provide a foundation as you expand smart feature thoughout the community.
  5. Balance cost and ROI: Smart technology can be costly to implement, so it’s important to balance the cost of implementation with the potential return on investment.

By considering these factors and working closely with residents and property owners/managers, it’s possible to find the right mix of smart home essentials that meet the needs of everyone involved.

One app controls these smart home essentials

A smart apartment app can control each of your smart home devices such as lighting, temperature, and apartment building access, all from your phone. Some popular examples of apps that can control smart home devices include: Smart thermostat, smart lock, smart light switches, and voice-controlled devices like Alexa.

    Smart Apartment App

    Smart Thermostat

    Smart Building Access Reader

    Smart Lock

    Voice Controlled Alexa

    Smart Switch

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    Smart locks | Why apartment managers and leasing teams love them

    Smart locks | Why apartment managers and leasing teams love them

    A Keyless Way to Secure Your Apartment

    Unlock that door and definitely throw away the key fobs. Apartment residents and property maintenance teams love smart locks. This keyless system allows property personnel to quickly access resident units to maintain them. Residents enjoy improved security because there is no need for physical keys, which can be duplicated.

    Convenience and Cost Savings

    Perhaps the top convenience is that smart access eliminates apartment lock change-outs and off-hours lock-outs. Changing out locks each time a new resident moves in is very time consuming.

    A smart locks to not require a key tracking system which are very expensive.

    When Smart locks are pared with a smart apartment system it allows for easy access and customizable permissions for management staff and third-party vendors. Maintenance technicians can complete their repairs faster and the 500+ hours’ labor saved annually adds up. This access for site inspections also results in a 33% faster rate.

    Surveys show that residents love smart locks so much that they are willing to pay a bit extra in rent to have them.

    Young Renters’ Preferences

    A recent survey showed that Millennials, especially, are interested in home technology and are willing to pay more for smart upgrades – 86% of that group says it will pay about one-fifth more for a smart apartment – defined as one that includes automated or remotely controlled devices, such as a smart lock, automated thermostat, or lighting controls. The survey of 1,000 renters was conducted by Wakefield Research and Schlage.

    And Gen Y wants apartments with increased security—61% are likely to rent an apartment specifically because of its electronic-access features, including keyless entry doors; and 55% are likely to pay more for an apartment that has “high-tech” door locks, the survey revealed.

    Smart access control give residents access to community amenities like gyms and pools as well as the ability to share apartment access with family, cleaning services, and dog walkers alike.

    Self-Guided Tours

    Smart locks are also making self-guided tours possible. This new, booming trend means renter prospects can tour the apartment home whenever they like and property managers no longer have to plan their day around touring.

    It also speeds up booking appointment time by providing the self-serve feature that consumers crave. Renters simply sign up, provide a copy of ID, then select the units they want to visit. Before the scheduled viewing, the prospect receives a unique access code to tour the property. No more worry about leasing hovering over your shoulder.

    Improved Security

    Once moved in, the residents enjoy improved security. Residents often want to share access with others when they are away: dog walkers, house cleaners, friends, and family. Guest codes provide a secure way of providing resident unit access. And only persons with the right credentials get access to resident units and property amenities. And even better, smart locks provide an audit trail. Always know who entered a unit and when they entered.

    Smart Locks are in-demand, renters will pay more, and they make your property more competitive in the market. The increased retention rates and NOI drives up the value for your assets.

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    10 Things Greystar Says About Smart Apartment Technology

    10 Things Greystar Says About Smart Apartment Technology

    Greystar sees importance of controlled building access

    Greystar has both recognized the necessity of offering competent smart-home technology and has discovered an interesting option in a growing field of emerging providers, said Andrew Livingstone, its Executive Managing Director.

    “The pandemic created a large shift in how we operate, and it moved us forward a decade,” Livingstone said. “It changed how we think about operating apartments. It forced us, out of necessity, to think more futuristically, given the circumstances.

    “It firmly created opportunities in apartment access technology and how we enter our apartment homes a fundamental cornerstone. We’re seeing unprecedented changes with access given recent transactions involving companies that offer this and to their valuations.”

    10 Benefits of Smart Technology for Apartments according to Greystar:

    1. Efficiency: Smart-home technology is generating greater efficiencies for apartment residents and our communities’ onsite teams. Innovation in this space has created a surplus of providers with a variety of solutions and price points.
    2. Operations: The pandemic created a large shift in how we operate, and it moved us forward a decade. It changed how we think about operating apartments. It forced us, out of necessity, to think more futuristically.
    3. No longer a ‘nice to have: Smart-home technology is now an absolute must have – not a nice-to-have amenity. It won’t just be in some apartment buildings; it has to be in all the buildings.
    4. It’s Time to invest: We do not have as much smart-home technology in our portfolio as we would like. Our onsite teams realize we need to evolve to serve the needs of our residents, clients “and the ever-changing times we live in.”
    5. Insist on integration: Look for smart-home technology platforms that integrate best with various components—such as thermostats, lights, utilities, access.
    6. Don’t downplay this: Reliable, after-hours service and data security must be considered and should not be discounted, downplayed or taken for granted.
    7. Dedicated Wi-Fi NOT required: Using the in-unit thermostat as the hub, which iApartments delivers, saves a great deal on installation costs. Dedicated Wi-Fi networks to support your smart-home technology is not required. These networks can cost from $600 to $1,000 per door – that’s a significant expense.
    8. Find a Solution that Works Right, out of the box: Our provider’s product works well right out of the box and can be installed during retrofits and new development.
    9. AaaS boosts NOI: AaaS stands for Amenity as a Service. Having software and equipment as a service that can be implemented at any time, regardless of the budget cycle, as we are doing with our smart-home system, allows us to begin generating ancillary income the moment this amenity is launched. We’re charging very modest fees for the added convenience the system offers our residents.
    10. Owners want best-in-breed: It’s an exciting time as smart-home tech brands continue to innovate their services to establish themselves as leaders in this space. While some of our clients have adopted this technology earlier than others, every property owner wants to work with the best products. So do residents.

     

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    Andrew Livingstone with Greystar on Smart Apartment Technology

    Andrew Livingstone with Greystar on Smart Apartment Technology

    Access and smart home technology are now an “absolute must have” not a “nice to have.”

    Greystar’s 2bayshore property has been transformed into a smart apartment community.

    The pandemic created a large shift in how we operate. It moved us forward a decade and changed how we think about operating apartments. Forcing us to think more futuristically out of necessity, given the circumstances. Smart tech firmly created opportunities in apartment access, making entry a fundamental cornerstone.

    Smart access and smart home technology are now an “absolute must have” not a “nice to have.” This technology won’t just be in some apartment buildings; it has to be in all the buildings.

    Woman using iApartments Smart Home App to control smart thermostat
    Woman using iApartments Smart Home App to control smart thermostat

    There are many players in the smart apartment community space.

    We’re still looking to find out who’s going to be Coke and who’s going to be Pepsi. Greystar is mostly a third-party management company and we’re working with owners who want to try this. We’re the No. 1 third-party management company in the country, and right now we have little-to-none of this technology in our portfolio.

    As we look around, we realize we need to evolve. We need to find out what smart-apartment technology integrates the best, what kind of battery life these systems allow, and which types of after-hours services we provide.

    We are using iApartments at 2bayshore.

    As one of the premier buildings in the Tampa commercial business district. It’s in the “it” part of the neighborhood.

    With iApartments’ smart access, the capabilities of working through the smart thermostat, the water detection, and additional plug-ins for things like lighting and Alexa devices are the kind of things our residents want. This makes iApartments a really intriguing option.

    Even better, iApartments allows the community to solve for smart home technology without the community (or its owners) having to invest in building-wide Wi-Fi. Those kinds of networks can cost $600 to $2,000 per unit. We’re finding iApartments is working really well. I’ve seen it. I’ve spoken to the onsite teams. iApartments checks all the boxes without having to make a huge Wi-Fi investment.

    Our maintenance teams love it. They can detect through dashboard alerts if an apartment home is having difficulty with its air-conditioning or humidity level. Our maintenance teams find this out when they come on to work at 7 a.m. Sometimes before a resident even knows they have a problem. Now they can get fix the issue right away.

    Smart Apartment Dashboard

    A smart apartment community dashboard allows managers to assign access to vacant apartment units and insight into the health of HVAC units. Each apartment unit contains smart sensors placed near HVAC units and high water damage risk areas. These sensors send proactive alerts to address high humidity areas and possible water leaks.

    Growth for the future.

    As we roll this technology out to more buildings, the communities’ onsite staff will work with it and let the smart-home technology providers grow and improve. Every owner wants to work with the best products. Some are earlier adopters than others.

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