Get “Smart” in Your Apartment Home Technology
Story by: Lea Lashley & Howard Behr
The multifamily industry has an opportunity to bring innovations from the smart home prototype to its residents. But when, and how? Applying “smart” home technology to apartments is a matter of time.
In multifamily, having a smart apartment indicates that technology-based devices such as thermostats, locks, and lights, are replacing their mechanical-operating counterparts. And there are many opportunities within the community where “smart” makes a play—in the billing and sub-metering business, for example—and realizing the ROI for owners and managers in this space.
Once smart devices are installed in apartment homes, the responsibility for managing them can quickly land on the apartment managers’ shoulders. This has the potential to become noticeable, particularly at turnover time. So what’s needed, and who manages this technology so property managers and owners start to see a return? Embue president and CEO, Robert Cooper, discussed his thoughts on the matter at the 2016 National Apartment Association conference with Howard Behr, VP Product Management for NWP, a RealPage company:
Apartment Home Technology Needs
- Cloud-based network – necessary for managers and residents to easily operate and manage smart devices.
- Isolated, building-centric network – install smart technology separate from the resident wifi network to ensure security and reduce complexity in solving future network issues.
- Dashboard management – ensure organization-wide oversight from a single source that anyone in the organization can operate based on roles and permissions.
- Reporting/insights – turn data from smart device use into instant insights with the help of companies like Embue, who can help transform multifamily business operations.
Ultimately, Cooper says that leadership is required to create apartment policies, to help select which devices become “smart,” and to determine implementation so that a community can realize the value of investing in smart devices quickly.
“There are a number of areas that require thought, understanding, and planning to deliver a great [smart] solution,” Cooper says. “Operating an apartment home is becoming a team sport in that the owners, managers and residents need to have the ability to work together to instantly operate an apartment home,” says Behr. Cooper suggests that “smart managers” do their homework and seek out experts and vendors capable of providing a smart solution that fit the needs of each, whether that be for turnovers, emergency or routine maintenance, or to simply assist a resident locked out of their apartment.