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“Connected” Building Common Areas: “Internet Access Is Not Enough”

By:  Rick Pearson, Cresa Woodland Hills

Years ago, Landlords started adding wireless hotspots in the common areas of buildings.  Most commonly in the lunch rooms and outdoor seating areas.  Especially when the building catered to high-tech and entertainment tenants.

Today, WiFi is a common amenity in most buildings, however the bandwidth is usually too slow and hard to consistently access.

Looking into the future, “internet access is not enough”.   Modern buildings and forward thinking landlords are starting to use technology to not only allow their tenants to work anywhere in the building, but also to streamline and enhance the landlord – tenant experience.

The following are only a few of the ways I see buildings “connecting” with their Tenants and occupants:

Touch Screen Displays

We already see touch-screen directories in the lobby and TVs showing local business news. But how about interactive touch-screen monitors in the elevators and common areas, which will act like a virtual concierge service?  In additional to picking the local news, weather and sports that you want to see, you could also get recommendations for local eateries, dry-cleaning, and other businesses.   After finding a place to eat, press a button and your reservation would be made and directions will download to your personal device.

Automated Building Services

I’m certain most buildings built after 2000 already have HVAC systems that the property manager can control with a computer program.  I can’t tell you how many times a tenant requests the air conditioning to remain on past normal business hours, only to be told that they need to provide 24 hour’s advance notice.  I’m sure there is a way to provide Tenants with access via their smart phone to control the air conditioning in their space.  Let’s take it a step farther and allow the tenant to control access to the building and to their space electronically.  How great would it be to avoid dealing with 1-Hour or Full Day visitor validations and simply scan your visitor’s ticket and automatically pay for the exact time they are in the building.

Custom Building App

Websites for a particular building or project are common.   I’m sure some of them have connectivity via a streamlined application.  In most cases, these websites are created as a marketing tool to help brokers lease space and distribute information such as floor plans.  I’m thinking the Building App needs to be much more robust.  In addition to incorporating all of the technology from the Touch Screen Displays and the Automated Building Services, this could be a great way for management to communicate with tenants.   I see no reason why many of the accounting functions, notices and project management roles of the property manager could not be included in this new, wired building application.

I think I read somewhere that over 60% of people use handheld devices more than they use their PC.  Let’s allow technology to take over the way building owners and managers interact with their tenants.  It just might make for a better experience…for both parties.


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