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How property managers can streamline processes through smart technology

Property managers are tasked with tracking multiple assets and actions over several properties through all stages of development - from planning to building and maintaining – and these days, the role of the property manager is becoming increasingly streamlined and data-driven through the adoption of smart technology. However, according to a 2019 PropTech Survey by KPMG, only 58% of real estate companies had a digital strategy in place.

But this is changing rapidly and the property industry continues to make progress in its digital transformation, with 95% of real estate companies having someone responsible for leading digital transformation and innovation. Unfortunately, only 25% of the respondents to the survey said that have a well-established data strategy that enables the right datasets to be captured and analysed. 

Matthew Margetts is director of sales and marketing at Smarter Technologies, an IOT service provider that captures data for large organisations such as the MOD and the NHS. He says: “From this survey data, it’s clear that property managers know that they need to digitally transform, but may be at a loss on how to start.”

Below, Margetts outlines how real estate companies can transform their organisations digitally, by undertaking the following advice in smart building management.

Smart lighting
Smart lighting controls allow building managers to control their building’s lighting remotely. Examples include: 

  • Installing occupancy sensors so that lights switch on and off automatically as people enter and exit rooms
  • Controlling lighting colours and temperatures according to the time of day, the purpose of the room or other environmental factors
  • Setting automatic shut-downs and power-ups at certain times of the day 

These smart controls can save a lot of energy and create a more comfortable and productive working environment.

Smart HVAC
Smart heating and cooling systems help property managers to save energy, and thus save money and work towards carbon and environmental targets. With temperature and occupancy sensors, a smart HVAC system can control the temperature of a room or building in line with the desired comfort levels, space usage and energy-efficiency - without the need for manual intervention.

Smart water safety
Demonstrating Legionella compliance is an important, yet potentially time-consuming activity for building managers. In a manual system, an assigned person will need to run the water from each outlet in the building and take and record the water temperature at regular intervals. These records need to be kept for a period of at least five years. A smart, automated water temperature testing system takes the hard work out of maintaining Legionella compliance and mitigates the risk of Legionella bacterial infection. 

Smart fire safety
The maintenance of fire safety equipment is a critical safety requirement for facility managers and building owners. However, the process can become quite overwhelming due to the extensive compliance and reporting requirements. Using smart technology to automatically monitor and manage fire safety service and maintenance activities is key to streamlining this process:  

  • Smart level sensors can monitor and report on the levels of fire extinguishers
  • Automated record-keeping reduces the risk of human error or misplaced paperwork
  • Smart maintenance schedules ensure that fire safety equipment is working properly
  • Fire safety measures can be set to auto-deploy if the risk of fire is detected
  • Instant alarms and messages alert managers immediately to any potential fire danger

Smart utility monitoring 
Automated meter readers (AMRs) and smart meters are able to read electricity, gas and water consumption data in real time. By remotely monitoring utility consumption data, property managers can identify wastage and potential efficiencies, implementing changes for long-term savings—all without the time and inaccuracy of taking manual readings.

Another major benefit of access to accurate real-time utility consumption data and reports is simplified sub-metering. At all times, and from anywhere, the property manager will be able to pull the consumption data from individual tenants, allowing for greater accuracy and ease of invoicing.  

Margetts concluded: “The uses of smart technology mentioned above are just a few of the many ways that the Internet of Things (Iot) is merging the physical world and the digital realm in buildings around the world. All of the smart technology applications in this article are enabled by installing sensors and tags onto different assets and connecting them via a central network, ultimately bridging the gap between the physical and the digital world. 

“All data can be viewed on a central, cloud-based dashboard, which is key to helping managers to benefit from big data analytics. Real-time data enables both monitoring capabilities and smart automation, with instant alerts triggered according to predefined parameters.  

“In summary, the benefits of smart technologies for the property industry include: greater efficiency, less reliance on human resources, compliance with local regulations and obligations, convenience and comfort for tenants and residents, higher property valuation, cost-savings and the potential for improved profitability.”

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