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Enterprise Property Automation Delivers Smart Home Benefits for Property Managers

May 07, 2019 | PointCentral

PointCentral is an IREM Director Level Industry Partner. This article is published on the IREM Blog as part of that partnership.

The growth of smart home technology at the consumer level is rivaling that of smart phones in the U.S., and is experiencing even faster growth by some estimates. According to analyst firm Berg Insight, by 2020, the installed base of smart homes is expected to hit 63 million households, 44 percent of all homes in North America.

Such rapid adoption is in large part due to the proliferation of smart home vendors, their voracious appetite for market share and their deep advertising pockets. Consumers are being bombarded on a daily basis with tempting offers for the latest smart home gadgets. And the demand is certainly there. People want the convenience, the safety, the energy savings and the “wow” that smart home delivers.

Smart Home for the Enterprise

The consumer interest in smart home has not gone unnoticed by property managers who want the benefits of smart home technology for their residents and their operations. But implementing a consumer-level smart home system across hundreds or thousands of properties is impractical. Property managers can’t just run down to their nearest Home Depot and buy an off-the-shelf solution. They need hardware and software that enable centralized control of access and energy for all their properties.

Enter a new category of smart home technology designed for property managers—enterprise property automation. By incorporating features specific to the needs of short-term and long-term property managers, enterprise property automation vendors are attracting the attention of managers who want to effectively serve several masters, each with their own priorities, using one system: There are residents who want the ease of smart home technology, owners who want protection for their investments and operations staff who want efficient, streamlined processes for their tasks.

Data Security and Reliability

First and foremost for property managers looking at smart home technology is the reliability of the network and data security. The last thing they want is to add more maintenance truck rolls to reset a network or jeopardize data privacy for their residents and owners. The best approach to consider is a cellular-based architecture with triple data encryption across the network. Unlike Wi-Fi, cellular is far more reliable and doesn’t require router resets. And with a private APN, a dedicated VPN and end-to-end AES encryption, residents and owners can be assured their smart home networks are among the most secure in the world.

Smart Locks Provide Smart Access Control

Few things provide property management operations with so many benefits like smart home technology. Smart locks not only eliminate the headaches and liability risks associated with mechanical keys, they enable the automation of access for vendors and maintenance staff using unique and temporary access codes. Plus, the software provides tracking of who enters and when, which is especially critical with vacant properties.

Smart Thermostats Save Energy and HVAC

Gone are the days when a vendor exits a property and leaves the air conditioning on high, only to be discovered a month later. Smart thermostats let property managers automatically set the temperature in vacant properties to energy-saving levels. This not only reduces energy costs, it extends the life of HVAC—one of the most costly items for property managers and owners. Managers should look for thermostats that are ENERGY STAR® certified to save on heating and cooling.

Some smart thermostats are incorporating “machine learning” into their hardware and software. Using the accumulated data from thousands of installed thermostats, these thermostats can “predict” HVAC problems before they occur. It senses when an HVAC system is not able to keep up with set points or is taking too long to get to a set point. Automatic notifications are then sent out letting the operations staff know there is a problem. This can mean the difference between routine maintenance and a more costly, more inconvenient failure.

Sensors and Cameras Add Protection and Savings

Optional smart add-ons can provide operations and owners with additional benefits. Strategically placed water sensors can detect water leaks the moment they occur, potentially preventing damage that can be very expensive to repair. By adding a shut-off valve, the sensor can be programmed to automatically stop the flow of water.

Door and window sensors can be added to automatically shut off the heating and air conditioning when a door or window is left open, again saving significant energy costs and HVAC life.

Outdoor cameras can help protect assets by keeping an eye on vacant properties and notifying the property manager when someone is on the property, and recording the visit.

When it comes to implementing an enterprise-class property automation solution, managers are giving residents the smart home technology they want, owners the asset protection they expect and operations the efficiencies they deserve.

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