The promise of smart apartments is exhilarating for property managers and owners.
They dream of a building that practically fixes itself thanks to self-monitoring building systems and automated maintenance tasks. They picture a year-long waiting list of potential residents who are eager to experience the hottest smart apartment amenities in the city. They envision higher rents, lower turnover, and a future-proof building that saves them time, energy, and money for decades.
But, wait. What happens with things break?
Anyone with a smartphone knows that, sometimes, computers stop working. While modern technology is more reliable than ever, we can never fully eradicate the most common cause of system downtime: human error.
That’s why a new type of service provider has emerged that specializes in the unique needs of smart apartments. They combine construction and maintenance, infrastructure and software, integrations and upgrades.
We call these companies managed IoT providers, and they are an integral part of the smart apartment future.
What is a Managed IoT Provider?
Managed IoT providers (or simply, ‘managed IoTs’) specialize in the three layers of IoT technology that power smart apartments:
- Network infrastructure
- IoT devices and sensors
- Software operating system/platform
Network infrastructure includes wifi, ethernet, and low-power Bluetooth networks to connect devices within units. IoT devices are what most people think about when they hear, “smart home tech.” Most smart apartments include smart thermostats, lights, locks, and sensors that serve as the eyes and ears of the building.
The software operating system, also called a connected building platform, ties the infrastructure and devices together into a simple, easy-to-use interface for managers. For residents, the connected building platform is where they can manage everything from rent payments to smart devices.
Smart apartments present several new challenges compared to traditional multifamily buildings. Managed IoTs support property managers and owners through the three main stages of a smart apartment’s life: construction, maintenance, and upgrades.
Stage 1: Construction
Like all construction projects, smart apartments are built by a fleet of subcontractors, each with their own specialty. The general contractor (or GC) will hire separate subcontractors for the concrete work, the steelwork, the electrical work, and the interior finishes.
When it comes to smart apartment technology, however, there is no one expert to turn to. Most often, GCs will hire subcontractors with general smart building experience (e.g., a low voltage technician), who then hire their own subcontractors to assist with the specialized work (e.g., a network administrator). In this scenario, no one is in charge of integrating the technologies. It’s left to the GCs– or worse, the property owners– to tie the loose ends together.
Managed IoT providers are the one subcontractor that GCs can rely on for all smart apartment-related tasks during construction. Managed IoTs will lay the network infrastructure, install smart devices, and integrate everything through the connected building platform. They can even train the property management staff on how to use the system.
From beginning to end, managed IoTs will own the outcome of the smart apartment platform, providing better results and peace of mind for GCs and property owners.
Stage 2: Maintenance
Imagine a world where there was a different plumbing specialist for every service: toilets, water tanks, pipes, and kitchen sinks. Who would property managers call if they had low water pressure? Without knowing why there was low pressure, they might need to contact each specialist until they diagnosed the problem.
This is the reality for smart apartment property managers today. When the wifi goes down, is it an infrastructure issue or an ISP issue? If a smart thermostat disconnects from the network, is it a problem with the device, the Bluetooth connection, or did the resident accidentally take it offline?
Without a single service provider, smart apartments become very difficult to manage. Traditional maintenance teams aren’t equipped to solve the technical challenges of today’s buildings, and dealing with multiple vendors causes more problems than solutions.
Managed IoTs are responsible for the entire smart apartment technology stack and can handle any technical issue that arises. Instead of relying on multiple specialists, property managers know exactly who to call to diagnose and fix the problem. Managed IoT providers can even perform maintenance remotely through the connected building platform. For any serious issues, they will come on site or call in the right local specialist for the manager.
Stage 3: Upgrades
One of the primary benefits of smart apartments is the ability to upgrade technology and services over time. However, building updates are much more difficult when multiple vendors are involved. Upgrading one technology– say, smarts thermostats– can cause compatibility issues with the network infrastructure or HVAC system.
Managed IoT providers ensure that each upgrade works seamlessly with the existing system. Installing new thermostats becomes simple because property managers know everything will be integrated. Managed IoTs can also recommend upgrades and push out software updates that improve the system without any physical changes.
Property owners can also rely on managed IoTs for major smart apartment renovations. If you want to outfit an existing building with smart technology, managed IoTs can do a smart retrofit for a fraction of the cost of building new.
Working with IoT Service Providers
Smart apartments are still at the dawn of their existence, and the same is true for managed IoT providers. However, it won’t be long before calling your managed IoT provider becomes as common as calling the plumber.
There’s no stopping the march towards smart living spaces, and managed IoTs like Homebase will be there to support property owners and managers every step of the way.
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