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Is Your Building Management Technology A Part of the Solution or the Problem?

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For a building management team, nothing can be scarier than working in circumstances like the one we currently face—a worldwide pandemic that spreads through close contact, shared surfaces, and airborne droplets. If ever there was a challenge to overcome in property management, the COVID-19 pandemic would be it. As people across the globe shelter-in-place and work remotely, multifamily and healthcare assets are under more strain than ever before. Meanwhile, office and retail assets are struggling to ensure buildings remain in good condition for when occupants return. People are facing extraordinary challenges while adjusting to this new normal, and our buildings are, too. Just like people, our buildings have coping mechanisms to help them identify and overcome these unprecedented challenges, and having the right ones makes all the difference. 

As most people are well aware, not all technology is created equal, especially when it comes to commercial real estate. Having the right technologies enables property management teams to introduce and execute smart strategies, as well as the ability to track strategy implementation from any location. Now more than ever, property management teams are vested with the most crucial task of keeping their buildings safe, healthy, and sanitized. Having user-friendly technology creates an easy way for property management teams to keep occupants informed and regularly updated in real time on proactive measures being taken to prevent the disease from spreading. The best case scenario is that buildings have this technology in place already. 

For buildings ill-equipped to deal with a crisis of this magnitude, they will undoubtedly see the need to implement the proper technologies that could have streamlined the extra difficulties this unfortunate scenario has placed on property management teams. Facilio is a data platform engineered for portfolio intelligence, and it assists users with all-encompassing capabilities for property management, including facilities maintenance and operations, asset life cycles and optimizations, fault diagnostics, sustainability, and command control centers. 

Many properties are learning the importance of being able to manage a building even if you can not have full staff at a property.

Prabhu Ramachandran, CEO of Facilio

“Cloud-native remote access allows teams to adhere to the current social distancing protocols regardless of a building’s asset type and current occupation level,” explains Prabhu Ramachandran, CEO of Facilio. This is a lesson that is being learned by almost every management team as they are now tasked with being this new responsibility. “Many properties are learning the importance of being able to manage a building even if you can not have full staff at a property,” Ramachandran said. It is becoming clear for even the most tech adverse management teams that having a cloud-based infrastructure that can allow a team to check in and manage a building remotely will not be optional going forward.

Technology can help buildings scale down their operations by optimizing the onsite workforce that is running leaner due to social distancing mandates. “Cloud-based BMS [building management systems] and BAS [building automation systems] monitoring, along with application program interface integrations deliver dynamic and centralized control of building operations remotely. Remote operation optimizes critical automated assets, such as HVAC systems across a portfolio of buildings, and couples fault detection with automated resolution workflows without the need for monitoring performance at individual sites,” Ramachandran said. This allows for buildings to run leaner and more efficiently. Due to the pandemic, many buildings have had no choice when it comes to running leaner, but a building’s efficiency is determined by the technology it is currently using.

Many buildings have had to figure out the best way to track visitors for the purpose of identifying and mitigating the possible source of infection. Without knowing the source of the infection, building managers are unable to determine which areas are safe or which need to be disinfected. “Facilio allows property management teams to not only manage touchless visitor entry, but also track the spaces and assets that visitors may have come in contact with. In the event that an asymptomatic individual tests positive for the COVID-19, the areas they visited can be easily identified and subjected to aggressive sanitization. The people they came in contact with can also be tested,” said Ramachandran.

Whether they want to admit it or not, building management teams are either a part of the problem or the solution. “Detailed digital records of visitors, in addition to relevant travel history, can also aid authorities in tracing clusters of infection. Transparency into operations and onsite activities can be used to derive real time hygiene and cleaning statuses and identify spaces to be avoided till further notice,” Ramachandran said. Properties are facing challenges they’ve never encountered before now, and those equipped with the right technology are rising to the occasion. 

In order for buildings to be a part of the solution during times of crisis management like the ongoing pandemic, they must be equipped with the best platforms to maximize efficiency, have the ability to run with fewer on site staff, assist authorities in mitigating infection, and most importantly, be able to keep occupants safe and healthy. If this trying experience has taught property management teams nothing else, it’s that having the right technology in place is critical to ensure both business continuity and tenant safety. Even if we physically can’t be inside our buildings, we still need to “see” them. Sight comes from innovation, technology, and analytics that allow property managers to make smarter decisions and implement more successful strategies.

Propmodo is a global multimedia effort to explore how emerging technologies affect our built environment.

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