The Internet of Things has the ability to make things easier, faster, and more secure across a variety of industries. In the multifamily real estate industry, it can improve everything from package delivery, property-wide access, thermostat control, and much more. Currently, package delivery in multifamily is receiving a lot of media attention. Most already realize package delivery is on the rise, not only in the U.S., but across the globe. According to some estimates, the number of packages delivered annually in the U.S. is expected to rise from 11 billion in 2018 to 16 billion by 2020. Home package delivery is one of the major ways that technology is changing the life of residents in apartments and student housing.
I am the Director of Marketing at Stratis, a platform that enables smart apartments in multifamily and student housing. One of the campaigns our marketing team has been focused on lately is a concept we call “Sidewalk to Sofa.” We like to think of it as a (clever) term that describes the orchestra of software, hardware and human interaction necessary to move everyone and everything from the exterior of the building to the interior of the units.
While the idea seems pretty straightforward, within this concept there is a lot of moving parts, including controlling and managing everything from thermostats, voice control enabled speakers, lights, leak sensors, and beyond. To create truly intelligent buildings, no technology or real estate company can go it alone. I strongly believe that to achieve smart apartment buildings, you need to pick software and hardware that work together.
This article highlights the need for a multi-partner approach to successfully pave the way for smart apartments and more importantly, intelligent buildings that fit in with the lifestyle of a modern resident.
Importance of Strategic Partners
Property managers have more than just residents coming and going from their buildings. On an hourly basis they are juggling guest lists, dog walkers, cleaners, package deliveries and more. To address these challenges, smart systems must work together.
Our development team is constantly working on creating partnerships that make sense in IoT. We are working on about 20-30 integrations and strategic partnership opportunities at any given time (many we can’t talk about yet). We are fortunate to have the most innovative partners in the industry including Samsung, Schlage, Honeywell, Nest, and Leviton, amongst others. For sidewalk to sofa capability you need great partners in access. Among ours in access are Schlage, Brivo, ButterflyMX, and others. Schlage makes intelligent door hardware to help property owners and developers evolve their buildings. Brivo is a company offering physical access control, video surveillance, and mobile credentials for buildings. ButterflyMX provides smartphone-enabled video intercoms for multi-family buildings.
We built Stratis to be a platform that integrates all access points on a property, from entryway through common areas and amenities, and finally through the resident door, using a single mobile application. It is the first and only “sidewalk to sofa” solution in the multifamily and Student Housing industry. And don’t forget, access is just the tip of the IoT iceberg in multifamily. When you have multiple IoT devices installed across the property it is crucial that they work on one app to cut down on app fatigue.
In-Unit Package Delivery
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, e-commerce accounts for about 9 percent of total retail sales, and is growing at a double-digit clip. The number of packages delivered annually will only continue to grow.
In-unit package delivery has been a hot topic in the media lately. With consumer giants like Amazon, UPS, and other companies all playing in the space. To an outsider of the multifamily industry, in-unit delivery seems incredibly easy. The reality is that most things involving IoT and multifamily are never incredibly easy.
A common problem is that in most cases properties have outdated systems or have several different systems of locks, which do not currently work on the same mobile platform. Most have an access system for the main or common doors (think “Curb to Lobby”), and the locks (think of it from “Hallways to Inside the Units”).
So if the package delivery and major e-commerce companies want to truly achieve in-unit delivery in apartments and student housing they must partner with a system that can work with both “Curb to Lobby” locks and “Hallway to Inside the Unit“ locks. It is a real challenge and why those huge companies are only claiming small pilot programs at the moment.
Of course, in-unit package delivery is just one of the things that IoT can improve on. We has found success partnering with smart hardware and software companies, including door locks, thermostats, leak sensors, voice, lights and more.
According to a recent article on Propmodo, “75% of millennials prefer to communicate via digital platforms.” We have found that many of our residents don’t like talking on the phone when they can solve a problem digitally much faster. They don’t want to physically call their maintenance people when there is a problem in their apartment. The property managers on our properties also love how easy it is to get a digital request for repairs right within our app.
These days another big use case for smart technologies for properties are leak sensors. Property managers are extremely busy and don’t have time for a major appliance leak in one of their units. These types of leaks not only cause property damage costing thousands of dollar for the apartment where the incident happens, but also can impact any number of units below the unit or incident origin. Water damage is by far the leading payout for insurers, equating to 48 percent of all paid property claims. This fact has driven insurers to recognize the value of leak detection solutions, leading to the adoption of this technology residential dwellings.
If leak sensors are placed strategically in the unit, the property manager will receive a text message notifying them of a leak in the building. If a leak is attended to faster, obviously it will reduce water loss and damage. The resident does not even have to be home, because leak alerts go right to the phone of staff at the apartment. In apartment buildings and student housing you often have vacant units where these leaks can occur and develop into much larger problems if they are unnoticed.
Finally, it is important to note that the advancement of smart cities is really starting to speed up as more and more people are living in city centers and thus apartments. Again, real IoT growth and adoption will arrive with partnerships. A common theme among technologists is the need to create something that makes life easier for others. When we look at companies to partner with, we try to find organizations that also driven by that simple goal. Together, technologists can streamline procedures and data and make things faster, better, and safer. If a company or corporation tries to do everything smart by themselves they will ultimately hit major roadblocks attempting the “sidewalk to sofa” solution.