Smart Proptech That Won’t Break the Bank

Delivery personnel can be granted virtual keys (Photo courtesy of Nimbio)

Integrating smart property technology (proptech) into multifamily properties — including co-ops, condos and gated communities — doesn’t have to break the bank. Newer systems and technologies can consolidate and streamline services by using smartphones.

As technology transforms residential living, spending on smart tech — which eclipsed $79 billion in 2022 — is forecast by Grand View Research to reach nearly $540 billion by 2030. Younger residents now expect such services to be offered in their buildings while older residents are more inclined than ever to request the conveniences.

A 2019 National Apartment Association (NAA) survey found 84% of respondents who did not yet have smart home technology said they would like to see some smart features implemented in their apartment communities. And tech usage is on the rise with an astounding 22 connected devices in the average household, according to Deloitte’s 2022 Connectivity and Mobile Trends Survey.

The rise of property technology has created an opportunity for owners and managers to research which services and systems would be welcomed by their residents while balancing costs and what can integrate with legacy systems.

Proptech can positively impact the operations of multifamily properties by ensuring they are not left behind as competitors are digitized. But when prioritizing smart home tech solutions, property managers and boards should select options that will enhance the residents’ experience and support the retention of their tenants/owners.

Smart home solutions that leverage both existing systems and tools — like the ever-present smartphones already being used by residents — should be high on the list of must-haves.

Introduced in the early 1990s, smartphone technology steadily gained traction in the early 2000s and, consequently, our lives have become more integrated with this pocket-sized tech. According to a 2021 Pew report, 85% of American adults now have smartphones, with more devices in the hands of those who are younger. In fact, 95% of adults between 30 and 49 have smartphones, with that number reaching 96% for those aged 18 to 29. It’s not uncommon for even pre-teens to have some limited use of phones.

Most of us now never leave home without our smartphones, and this now very powerful device has become the central hub for our daily lives. It makes sense to integrate the smartphone with multifamily properties so residents can take advantage of smart home living. Many residents and owners are using their smartphones to access their oce buildings and hotel doors, amenities and elevators when traveling.

Forget key fobs — the newest entry systems let residents use their phones as a modern, keyless option for main entryways and shared spaces like gyms, pool gates and common areas. Residents no longer need juggle what they are already holding to find multiple keys.

Smart access control solutions also allow residents to both create and share either a one-time digital key for a friend or generate recurring digital keys for those who visit on a regular basis like dog walkers and cleaning professionals, while also limiting the days and hours such remote “keys” will work.

Many new systems also put the residents in control over who has access to their private spaces and when — thus taking the property manager, super or doorman out of the equation and enabling the residents to manage their homes remotely. For shared spaces, boards and property managers should also consider systems that can be flexibly integrated with partner systems that enable residents to also digitize their individual door locks.

Putting the resident user’s experience first and foremost can enable boards, owners and managers to prioritize proptech needs and choose the tech that will have the most positive impact.

While weighing smart tech solutions, consider how each offering can also create property management efficiencies by eliminating common and time-consuming tasks such as replicating and accounting for keys, storing and tracking packages or scheduling maintenance requests.

Enabling keyless entry using smartphones, for instance, means less time taking deposits for key fobs or cutting keys while allowing residents seamless access to their building. Any keyless entry system should also enhance security and eliminate site visits for lockouts.

For property owners with existing legacy technologies, the ability to integrate with and implement new tech could become a complete game changer at a nominal cost. It’s important to consider both the platforms and tech that residents are already using to implement easy, cost-effective solutions that can integrate with those devices easily.

The newest solutions like Nimbio are cellular-based, whereas older systems either require a less reliable and less secure Wi-Fi connection or costly direct wiring through phone lines or fiber optic lines.

In addition to dependability, multifamily owners, property managers and condo/co-op boards nationwide tout the safety of smartphone access and the significant enhancements that come with the elimination of community-wide access codes. Many have cited situations where security codes were discovered written directly on doors or gate entry/call boxes. Unique digital keys prevent unsafe sharing of codes and a 24/7 access log for each entryway is available.

The rapid rise of smart innovations can seem overwhelming, but if you ask the right questions, prioritize your residents’ requirements and work within your existing infrastructure, you can find a solution that can be integrated while future-proofing your facility for years to come.