IoT Integration Switches Focus from Smart Unit to Smart Community

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It seems that all of the big tech companies today are introducing their own version of a digital voice assistant. They are investing in new technology, all vying to be the smart tech in your home. While companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google would love to sell you a home speaker, they also realize the bigger incentive is to integrate their software into other everyday products like your home appliances. To do this they have joined together to create a new connectivity standard that lets anyone build hardware that is compatible with each company’s digital assistant software. 

This alleviates a big problem that has held back smart apartment adoption. Now property owners don’t have to guess as to which operating system their residents will want. They can just build in the infrastructure and let each resident decide. “When it comes to upgrading apartments, don’t make decisions that are personal,” says Demetrios Barnes, COO of smart home automation company SmartRent. “If you want a smart light, buy the smart switch, not the bulb. People might want a different color light. Don’t buy a bunch of Alexa devices because the resident might use Google Home.” Barnes and the rest of the founding team were operators before starting SmartRent so they know the risks of investing in something, not knowing if you are going to have to reinvest as the tech progresses. Now, he says, is the perfect time to start thinking about upgrades since there is a clear path to full industry integration.

“Industry standards level the playing field for smart home tech,” Barnes said. “We have an open API, but we have always been restricted to other company’s integrations. Now we are able to really bring an ecosystem together.” Doing so means focusing less on the in-unit smart home software and instead focusing on building a smart community. It is, after all, the entire living experience that apartments are being judged upon. Integrations provide numerous advantages such as remote access control but can also help to better utilize and protect property amenity spaces. Amenities like pools and fitness centers should have access control solutions like readers added to make sure only those with proper credentials have access. Parking management solutions is another feature that could help make a community fully connected.

Smart communities are an asset to building management and ownership as well. Leaks and climate issues can be automatically detected and reported. Real time alerts can inform preventative maintenance teams, allowing technicians to replace dead batteries or adjust settings before catastrophe strikes. It can even factor in when buying or selling a building. “Unless your due diligence team is amazing, I can bet they didn’t look through all the appliance receipts and usage specs from the manuals,” Barnes said. Now building owners looking to sell can deliver a working model of the building replacement and repair cost schedule. Buyers can enter into a purchase with confidence that they won’t have too many unseen deferred maintenance issues. 

As time goes on, in-unit technology is only getting smarter. Appliances will be able to be run remotely, digital assistants will be able to control almost every aspect of an apartment, air quality will be recorded and analyzed. In five years, these features will not raise any eyebrows, they will have become commonplace. For buildings to really stand out in an automated world, they need to become a smart community to provide the best resident experience. Building managers should begin to connect the dots in their properties now to create the full connected experience for their buildings. The era of the smart home is only expanding; welcome to the era of smart communities.

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