Smart Apartments VS Dumb Apartments

In the ongoing battle to provide the latest and greatest amenities and to provide the best tenant experiences possible, multifamily residential housing owners and operators are looking at connected home solutions. By offering a connected apartment, a management company can differentiate from competition.  Suddenly one apartment is smart and the rest are dumb.  At the same time, providing a connected apartment also provides multifamily owners and operators the ability to control energy use, especially in vacant units, and to gain insights into how to improve their communities.

This means the real estate industry, an industry not widely know for early technology adoption, may surprisingly become the key to unlocking the door to consumer internet of things hardware adoption for the smart home.  This also presents an opportunity for start up entrepreneurs. IOTAS, Remotely, Monarc Tree and Dwelo are four of the companies vying for the IoT opportunity in multifamily housing.  IOTAS is in a pilot with Greystar and was featured on a the Gigaom IoT podcast by Stacey Higginbotham in February.  Monarc Tree is beta testing in four buildings with a fifth in development.

I caught up with David Beenfield, Co-Founder & CTO of Dwelo this morning for a conversation about the solutions in residential multifamily housing units. “The winner will be somebody who can design a program that is minimal enough to scale,” Beenfield said.  As someone who started implementing and managing real estate accounting and operations information systems over a decade ago, I second Beenfield’s opinion.  Simplicity in design and scalability are important for multifamily housing managers because if it isn’t simple, it isn’t going to get done and it certainly cannot scale to thousands of units.

Tenants must feel that the technology works for them rather than them working for the technology otherwise they will complain. Property management must feel that the technology works rather than them working at fixing and dealing with technology issues and complaints.  Owners and asset managers must feel that the technology generates more value for the bottom line than the costs of technology implementation and management.

When asked where the market would go Beenfield explained, “The future of multifamily housing will be an entirely connected building that is digitally interactive from any device. This will fundamentally change the resident and manager experience to one of greater convenience, transparency, and energy consciousness.”

Edit 5/14/15 a typo was corrected

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