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How Technology Is Changing the Role of Property Managers, Part 1

By Revathi Greenwood, Americas Head of Research

Contributors: Marcio DaCosta, Director of Emerging Technologies and Kathleen Cahill, Leader of Emerging Tech Partnerships

Banner_Security-Concierge Robots

Part one in our series “How Technology is Changing the Role of Property Managers” looks at robotics technologies for building security and tenant concierge services.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever considered the following: “Could robots do my job better than I can?” Maybe it was the latest security installation or upgrade at your building, or perhaps you read about the hotel in Japan that’s staffed by robots.

While the reality of robots wandering a commercial property and performing basic management tasks is still many years away from being implemented broadly, innovation isn’t going anywhere, and neither are transformational technologies that positively impact the tenant experience and increase property managers’ on-the-job efficiency.

Building Security

Building security is one of the most promising applications when it comes to near-term implementation of robotics technologies.

Leading the way in this are companies specializing in autonomous security robots with two-way audio/video communication and mobile PA systems. Innovations in property or building entry and access is reaching heights unknown. From apps that provide you with entry access or QR codes to allow you into a building at a given time of day to biometric security, innovations in simply entering a property are on the rise. And while these technologies may not be the norm today, don’t be surprised if tenants start requesting the latest tools in building entry security.

Things like advanced security cameras can identify anomalies in a space and provide simultaneous feedback to personnel, notifying them of potential trouble. Facial recognition, a form of biometric security, is currently being used in office buildings around the country to tighten security and easily identify those who do and don’t belong in an office.

Concierge Services

As experiential management and concierge services become more common to boost the tenant experience, the most successful concierge-type robots are once again those that enhance the human presence. Robots can be especially helpful in the role of a lobby greeter or in a check-in function.

This elevates the experience for those entering the building, streamlines the process for property managers and tenants and organizes the lobby and traffic flow. This type of technology is an economical option and can also be used on other floors of a high-rise office building in situations where it does not make sense to have a receptionist or the additional staffing.

Today, robots can even help an employee get into a building and find an open desk or conference room to work at in an office. But as artificial intelligence and robotics become more advanced, the “robot” might be able to consider many other factors when making these decisions. For example, an employee’s personal preferences or meeting calendar could be assessed when choosing an open desk. These types of capabilities enhance the employee experience. Building owners and managers are still determining how these kinds of concierge services might play a role in tenant retention.

Some instances of companies in this space include SoftBank Robotics, which is currently developing a concierge robot with AI capabilities and the ability to speak multiple languages. Another robot, Pepper, from the same company, has humanoid features and moves, speaks and interacts with guests. For cleaning and landscaping, a company called ViaBot is developing an outdoor facilities management robot that will be able to clean and sweep, cut grass and power wash. Robots like these are still in the early development and proof of concept phases, but they may offer a glimpse into what’s on the horizon.

The full article is available in the March/April issue of BOMA Magazine.

Revathi Greenwood

Ms. Greenwood is the Americas Head of Research for Cushman & Wakefield with overall responsibility for the research platform within the Americas region. She provides leadership to hundreds of professionals who are focused on producing predictive, timely and interpretative analysis on the latest real estate trends. A well-established thought leader, Revathi has 22 years of experience in the CRE industry, advising on properties valued at more than $15 billion for various clients. She has authored three tech disruptor reports on the topics of robots, mobility and blockchain.

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