Panelists discussed the technology trends and challenges poised the reshape the smart building of the future at the MIPIM PropTech NYC’s event this week.
Among the top trends were managing an increasing demand for flex space, digital connectivity and user-centric focused design. Enterprise tenants and smaller businesses wanting to scale their operations are looking for flexible leasing options that provide a high level of service to their users.
“As a growing startup company, we prioritize having flexibility in a number of locations and service,” said Arie Barendrecht, CEO of WiredScore, which has rated the digital connectivity of more than 160 million square feet of office space in New York City.
Digital connectivity and 5G
For commercial building tenants, digital connectivity is a must. While the onset of 5G will enable many new applications, it’s likely to be a rocky road ahead for building owners and commercial real estate landlords.
“Digital connectivity as a baseline experience is something that we don’t have today. Reliable internet connectivity is actually the future,” said Barendrecht. One of the problems with 5G, which Barendrecht described as the “big elephant in the room” is that it will not work well inside of office buildings.
“With 5G we are going to have a consumer experience where outside users will have the amazing ability to do all the things they need to do digitally and when they go inside things will dramatically change. There’s going to be a lot of pain [over] three to five years as buildings built before the internet need to become 5G ready,” Barendrecht said.
Smart building user-centric design
The smart buildings of the future must increasingly be built with a user-centric approach but the “smart” needs to be a driver, not the source, says Jan Hein Lakeman, executive managing director of Edge Technologies, which was designed for Deloitte’s offices in Zuidas, Amsterdam, and is heralded as the most intelligent building in the world.
“Everything should be centered around the users. A smart building’s functionality should be to facilitate the users. Making people healthier, offering better air and lighting to give employees a boost when they need it,” Lakeman said.
While the most prominent driver towards the adoption of smart building technology remains the ability to reduce utility costs, putting control in the hands for end users is also becoming paramount.
“Things will only work if we can take away friction and deliver efficiency. That’s what we tried to do with Edge,” Lakeman said.
Occupants chose convenience over privacy
While creating a frictionless environment isn’t always easy, more often than not occupants will choose convenience over privacy. The Edge allowed occupants to decide whether they preferred to have the parking system automatically identify their license plates to enable easy access to the parking garage or pull a ticket – 90% chose the convenience of a frictionless environment over privacy said, Lakeman.
Moving beyond measuring occupancy and understanding how occupants use a building can also have a tremendous payback, according to Corey Clark, vice president of product development at WeWork, now the largest occupier of office space in Manhattan.
“One of the things for us is using technology to understand how a building is occupied and compare that with other data to create applications for users and change behavior. An example is hot desking; if we can understand how people spend time in the space it can be made better,” Clarke said.
An understanding of the way people are using desks and conference rooms have enabled WeWork to make decisions about the best way to monetize those assets while improving users experience.
“We are cautious to minimize the amount of information we are capturing for measurement and data purposes and at the same time reward those willing to share information by offering something return,” he added.