Citizen engagement key to the success of Smart Cities

Citizen engagement key to the success of Smart Cities

The business case for building smart cities and regions

Case Studies
  • Analysis from Gartner shows citizens must come first
  • Local government CIOs must focus on the problems faced by citizens
  • Open data strategies guaranteeing access to all are required
  • By 2020, two-third of all smart city strategies will incorporate KPIs

Citizen engagement is critical to the success of smart cities, according to international research firm Gartner. It adds that smart city initiatives are no longer about optimised traffic patterns, parking management, efficient lighting and improvements to public works, but rather the enhancement of services and experience. So put aside your technology focus on IoT and AI for the moment, and instead refocus on citizen-government dialogue to ensure that the right issues are tackled.

“The way forward today is a community-driven, bottom-up approach where citizens are an integral part of designing and developing smart cities, and not a top-down policy with city leaders focusing on technology platforms alone,” said Bettina Tratz-Ryan research vice president at Gartner. “As data analytics and insights become increasingly valuable because of the extensive analytics and learning, data algorithms will become the essential element to create user-focused services.”

Ah, so maybe don’t abandon all your technology just yet… There looks to be plenty of scope for machine learning and chatbots to engage with citizens, as well as disruptive technologies like AI for elderly care, autonomous driving or delivery bots. In addition, there are emerging use cases for blockchain for transactions and in record keeping.

“Changes in citizen mindsets mean that governments must change their mindsets,” said Traz-Ryan. “Government CIOs today need to look at creating innovation strategies to attract new industries and develop digital skills. They need to look at changing their spatial planning, road infrastructure, data and service management.”

Gartner recommends that CIOs in local government to need to understand the problems that directly impact citizens and apply technology to solve these problems. For instance, they must align data and information gathered through AI and machine learning to match the specific requirements of citizens and the business. They also need to be mindful of the digital divide and pay equal attention to the issues of citizens with fewer IT skills. It believes that incorporating technologies such as natural-language-powered virtual personal assistants is a step in this direction.

CIOs also need to create open data strategies guaranteeing access to all interested parties in a city, whether they be industries, universities or citizens. They also need to use measurements and key performance indicators (KPIs) to explain the progress of smart city initiatives to their various stakeholders. Gartner believes that by 2020, two-third of all smart city execution strategies will incorporate KPIs to visualise the impact of mobility-related urban services.

“Business strategies must clearly focus on the development of a seamless citizen service experience through digital access to information and government services,” added Tratz-Ryan. 


Article Source: View Original Article Source here

 How Stratafy helps?

Stratafy was built as the engagement layer to connect Owners/Tenants and all relevant counterparts to a building to provide transparency, process improvement, and easy of access. We are in line with Gartner and state that the citizens do come first with a mobile first focus, this is because all users are linked to their handheld device 24/7. Stratafy becomes the key to ensuring the owners and tenants are front of mind.

Request a demo today to see how we took the customer focus and turned it into a full ecosystem for Strata and building management to embark on the smart cities of the future.

Tenants Demand Technology from Real Estate Industry Still Using Spreadsheets

Tenants Demand Technology from Real Estate Industry Still Using Spreadsheets

Tenants Demand Technology from Real Estate Industry Still Using Spreadsheets

Case Study

The business case for building smart cities and regions

Despite the trend of modernizing back office real estate processes, a surprisingly high percentage of real estate owners and operators are still using spreadsheets and paper to manage their properties. A new report out today outlines just how large the divide is between what tenants expect and how the commercial real estate industry actually operates. The report’s authors at MRI Software surveyed 219 U.S. real estate professionals from companies of various sizes. Of the respondents, 56% were in the multifamily sector, 30% in office 21% in retail and the remaining 26% in “other.”

The first finding that jumped out was the types of technologies that renters find most important. Across the board, digital services like digital payments and electronic billing and, of course, broadband internet, were seen as the most valued offerings. For commercial real estate, the other top-ranked amenities point to the power of WeWork’s business model as renters mostly wanted proximity to public transportation, flex leasing, and kitchen facilities.

In the multifamily residential market there seemed to be a bit of an age divide. Established professionals wanted features like in-unit laundry and private garages while students and millennials wanted exercise facilities and multiple options for strong cell service. Leave it to the kids to ask for the moon.

This is even more revealing when compared to the technologies that the respondents plan to adopt. Commercial real estate pros were split pretty evenly between online payments (14%), SEO (13%), and management software (13%). Their multifamily peers were planning on adopting technology for virtual tours (21%), mobile inspections (17%) and lead tracking (17%). There is obviously priority given to marketing and operating efficiency, two important parts of any property business, but it may come at the expense of user experience.

While virtual tours and accounting software might make the c-suite execs happy in the short term, it does little to provide a better service to the people that actually buy the product. This could be at least partially due to the fact that every real estate sector except for retail is experiencing historically low vacancy rates. But if this lessors market starts to shift and properties need to compete in order to stay profitable then we will hopefully see more of a priority put on user experience.

The market might be partially to blame, but the makeup of the industry certainly doesn’t help. One of the most emphasized findings in this survey was that 42% of commercial real estate companies rely on spreadsheets. This exemplifies an observation had by many: commercial real estate is stuck in its ways.

This narrative has been broadcast so many times by so many people that we try to steer away from it. Plus, after what we have seen with the rapid adoption of tech, we suspect that much of it is hyperbole. Even if we will see a more technological commercial real estate industry in the near future, studies like the one MRI just released do make it hard to argue that the technology that is being offered might not be what is being asked for by the market.



Article Source: View Original Article Source here

How Stratafy helps?

Stratafy is driving innovation forward by ensuring that the tenants are the number 1 focus for us. This in turn drives makes it a greater customer experience for the strata and building manager resulting in cost savings and business retention.

Book your obligation free demonstration today.

PropTech Today: ‘We’re no longer real estate’ says world’s largest real estate firm

PropTech Today: ‘We’re no longer real estate’ says world’s largest real estate firm

PropTech Today: 'We’re no longer real estate' says world’s largest real estate firm

Case Studies

PropTech Today: ‘We’re no longer real estate’ says world’s largest real estate firm

Co-Founder Gary Keller has declared that Keller Williams (KW) is, ‘no longer a real estate company…we are a technology company No. 1’. 

As one of the world’s largest firms makes a bold shift towards data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), it must surely be time for everyone to follow suit?

Keller was on stage, in front of KW agents, debuting the company’s new AI virtual assistant, Kelle, which can process data to answer questions and perform tasks, such as: ‘I want to make $100,000 this year’, ‘How many contracts per day do I need to make to achieve that?’, or, ‘What’s the status of my referral?’. 

“In the fourth industrial revolution,” Keller said, “the one with the most insights wins, and that means the one with the most data.”

The new virtual assistant improves as it’s fed more data. But Keller’s interest in data goes far beyond a highly capable chatbot. And what’s really interesting is how KW plans to gather the grand amount of data it’s craving. 

Data rich, insight poor

Keller Williams is America’s largest real estate firm in terms of number of agents and sales volume. It is all of those agents who create the data, and today the firm is funnelling that previously disconnected data into one main database. A place where it can then learn everything about the past, current, and future state of the property industry.

Knowledge is power, and Keller Williams has realised that nowadays, we call knowledge insight, and the only way to get it is through big data.

So now, with its vast amount of agents all across the US, it’s hoarding data on everything from offers and contracts to appraisals, inspections, and productivity.

There are no two ways about it, without solid data insight, property firms are shooting themselves in both feet and each elbow.

Are you mobile yet?

The new virtual assistant is “designed to allow agents to run their business from a mobile device, find KW’s training content and best practices quickly, check their progress against their business goals, grow their own agent-to-agent referral network, add and nurture their contract and create and manage a business schedule.”

The idea of ‘mobile’ still, to many agents, seems like an optional add-on, rather than a vital asset. But technology has the potential to provide a competitive edge, and mobile, cloud-based platforms have become a central part of this innovation. 

Keller Williams’ chief innovation officer, Josh Team, said: “Agents are data rich, but insight poor…Our core belief is that over the next 12-18 months, winners and losers are going to be chosen and agents, right now, are being caught in the middle of this larger game.” 

Team goes on to explain that everyone at KW is pooling their resources to create a fund to fuel technological revolution, a fund which they intend to reach ‘tens of millions of dollars annually’.  

The money will be spent on one single aim, to create a solution that ‘allows the tech-enable agent to win and outperform the technology platforms that want to disintermediate the agent’. 

My third-party disagreement

Keller does say one thing I disagree with, by suggesting that property firms should not look to use third-party solutions for gathering and analysing data,(note Stratafy is not a 3rd party data analysis firm but a technology partner) and should instead build their own. 

This just isn’t viable for most agents. Keller’s words on data are correct, but I think he neglects to realise that self-builds are unattainable and wasteful for the majority of agents, at least those who don’t come close to matching KW’s scale. 

Data should also ultimately be an open platform, so I think that agents should be encouraged to work with data providers who can augment their systems to provide comprehensive insight. 

So, while I think the mentality over at KW is great and should be mirrored across the industry, I don’t think the recommended method of rollout is suitable for the general market place.

The time is now

These comments from Keller Williams are some of the most confident, bold, and aggressively innovative that I’ve heard regarding PropTech. I wouldn’t be surprised if this loud announcement creates a bit of a ripple across the industry. 

If the biggest firm in the land is going digital, relying 100% on data to succeed, it’s going to be hard for others to remain motionless. 

For all agents in the UK, it’s time to evolve with a data-driven and mobile first attitude towards technology; test quick, fail fast, but be obsessive in your search for opportunity and success. 

Technology and agents are destined to work together, it’s an unavoidable fate. Ours will never be an industry of technology without agents. But nor will there continue to be agents without  tech. The two working hand-in-hand is how we progress and it’s a philosophy that is becoming increasingly agreed upon with yesterday’s doom-mongering fading away.

If you haven’t started your journey with innovation yet, this should certainly inspire at least a first step. Something small, something simple, but something now! Go searching for technology you like, that you’re comfortable with and that you see real world value in. 

As Keller says, find the solutions which will help you outperform the online, no-agent competitors that keep rapping at the door. Everything else, you can just ignore.


Article Source: View Original Article Source here

How Stratafy helps?

Technology and agents are destined to work together, it’s an unavoidable fate. Ours will never be an industry of technology without agents. But nor will there continue to be agents without  tech. The two working hand-in-hand is how we progress and it’s a philosophy that is becoming increasingly agreed upon with yesterday’s doom-mongering fading away.

Get in touch to discuss your ecosystem technology partner

Smart cities must begin with citizens, not from above: Industry

Smart cities must begin with citizens, not from above: Industry

Smart cities must begin with citizens, not from above: Industry

Case Study

Smart cities must begin with citizens, not from above: Industry

MUMBAI: Calling for a bottom-up approach and not a top-down policy as of now, industry leaders have called for more and more engagement with citizens while designing and developing smart cities.

While underlining that each smart city is unique, L&T Construction chief marketing officer Joy Rajan Cheruvathoor argued that “each smart city is unique and a cookie cutter approach does not work to design them. The best way forward to achieve this is to engage the citizens better.”  ..

According to Subudhi, administrative accountability is another issue that is critical.

“While government spends hundreds of crores on infrastructure projects, there is no transparency in the way the money is deployed. Also, citizen-government dialogue is an essential element that can ensure that the right issues are tackled,” he said.

Speakers also cited cyber security as a pressing issue facing development of smart cities and called for fool-proofing the same.

Pointing out that there will be more than 500 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2030, Dina Tamimi, director of smart cities at


Honeywell India urged for swift adoption of technological changes.

According to her, the speed of technological change causes a potential threat for security breaches.

“Along with smart city development, it is important to develop tight security to keep up-to-date with the security challenges and changes,” she noted.

Abhishek Lodha, managing director of Lodha Group pointed out that Maharashtra has been in the forefront as far as urban development planning is concerned.”In the last five-seven years, Maharashtra has adopted several measures to speed up urban infrastructure development, like tweaking the urban township policy,” he said, adding while the city and the state is playing catch up, the rate of policy reforms is quick.


Article Source: View Original Article Source here

How Stratafy helps?

Stratafy is built to focus on the citizen at hand. Focusing on the problems they have to ensure technology helps solve those problems. We are supporting a drive to a new way of operating to make the experience number in a smart city and smart building ecosystem.

Click here to book a demo and learn more

Agents’ PropTech Toolshed: Who am I and recruiting PropTech

Agents’ PropTech Toolshed: Who am I and recruiting PropTech

Agents' PropTech Toolshed: Who am I and recruiting PropTech

Case Study

PropTech has been the industry soundbite for the last couple of years.

For many of my fellow agents, I think it’s one that, more often than not, has a negative perception. For me, PropTech for agents right now is about four simple, essential benefits:

1. Streamlining your in-house procedures

2. Automating repetitive & unpleasant tasks

3. Delivering a ‘better’ digital consumer experience (I use consumer very intentionally)

4. Boosting profitability (yes- I used the dirty ‘p’ word)

Before I start spouting my thoughts on PropTech and its value in today’s evolving (residential) agency landscape, I think it’s vital that I tell those of you who don’t know me (which will no doubt be the majority of you) a little bit about who I am so here we go…

Who am I?

My name is Kristjan and back in 2004, aged 24 and with about 18 months’ experience in the industry, I launched my London agency ‘base property specialists’. 

base was a ‘bootstrap start-up’, with my partner and I putting in just £10k each to launch the company. The company back then was just me, An, our laptops and a mission. We’ve never borrowed, never been in debt and never made a loss – we have grown slowly and steadily, re-investing what we could when we could back in to the business.

Nearly 14 years later and we are still a small agency – and that is fine by us. We have a tight-knit, effective team, but PropTech has been vital in us achieving the following to date:

  • We fully manage around 70% of our lettings portfolio
  • We achieve fees of 10% Let Only and 15% Let & Fully Managed (or 12% & 18% in consumer ‘VAT included’ speak)
  • We generate revenue of more than £100k per head
  • We currently operate at around 25-30% profit
  • We have won around 15 industry awards to date

I say this purely because PropTech has made this possible- and I believe every agent can use it to:

  • Delight and exceed the expectations of your consumers
  • Deliver a digital agency experience that leverages the personalities and expertise sat in your offices
  • Achieve great fee levels- maintaining or even increasing them
  • Have an office that is infinitely more efficient
  • Have happier staff

With over 80% of our industry being made up of independent agents, I personally think one of the greatest misconceptions that I keep hearing is ‘tech is for the corporates – it’s not for us’. 

I couldn’t disagree with this more. In fact, I think smaller independent agents are actually the best placed to quickly adopt tech and evolve as an agency. 

Just think, is it easier to get a team of 5-10 to start doing something differently or a team of 100s or even 1000s? Exactly!

‘Recruiting’ PropTech

One of the biggest factors that will decide whether the adoption of PropTech actually benefits your agency is how you go about adopting it. 

For that reason, you need to treat each new PropTech product as a new member of staff taking up a new role in your company. By that I mean:

1. Each and every member of staff must know who the new recruit is, what their role is and how this impacts them directly and the company as a whole.

2. You have to invest time training and embedding them in to the business – invest time and effort at the start configuring them properly, revising and enforcing new office/company procedures and monitoring uptake and performance.

3. Talk to them – just like a member of staff, no product will be perfect. However, like staff, good PropTech is constantly evolving so make sure you and your staff provide regular feedback on what you do and don’t like, what could work better, what’s missing and what would be a great addition. They want the product to be as great as it can be.

4. Do they fit? Not every staff or role will work out in your company and the same can be said for PropTech. Make sure you understand what you want from a product and how to measure that and monitor this. You wouldn’t keep a member of staff that doesn’t add any value so the same should apply with PropTech.

5. Are they a different fit? Sometimes people work out in a different role than they were hired for. Likewise, you may adopt a product in the hope that it increases new deal volume but find that it boosts your renewals pipeline, or that it makes you more efficient but it winds up justifying a higher fee. Don’t let you (or the company pitching a product to you) limit how that can be applied to your business.

6. No two staff are the same – each and every person you hire will have different strengths and weaknesses and varying impacts on your business. PropTech is the same, just because one product from a company doesn’t work out, doesn’t mean all their products are bad. Just because one PropTech solution doesn’t work, doesn’t mean none of them will. Never stop exploring and seeking out new products that are right for your business.

7. Success is worth shouting about – you wouldn’t hide a star member of staff, or a big name exec, in a back room, so don’t hide your tech either. When you adopt tech, shout about it from the rooftops – feature it on your website, share it in your social media, get users to post reviews about it, share videos of it…make it part of your marketing.

Take this approach and you can be sure to have an agency that evolves, and pivots, quickly and effectively, improving immensely along the way. 


Article Source: View Original Article Source here

How Stratafy helps?

As the article suggests we do support your business to do the following:

1. Streamlining your in-house procedures

2. Automating repetitive & unpleasant tasks

3. Delivering a ‘better’ digital consumer experience (I use consumer very intentionally)

4. Boosting profitability (yes- I used the dirty ‘p’ word)


Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and the Changing Role of Building Managers

Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and the Changing Role of Building Managers

Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and the Changing Role of Building Managers

Case Study

Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and the Changing Role of Building Managers

A follow-up to the question: Will increasing automation destroy jobs in facilities management?

Building automation systems have been common for decades, providing comfort and achieving energy efficiency by managing HVAC, lighting and other systems. These on-premise technologies have made facility management a more productive, effective and enjoyable job.

Moreover, automation in buildings provides capabilities that aren’t feasible for a human to perform effectively. This was true when Warren Johnson (founder of Johnson Controls) patented the thermostat in 1883. Johnson didn’t like the disruptions in his classroom when janitors and other staff came in to check the temperature.

Across the broader economy, there continues to be concern that advanced automation technologies will destroy jobs. Among other key trends, many point to the “great decoupling,” a term coined by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT, which refers to the deviation of productivity and wage growth. Until the 1980s, these two metrics grew hand in hand. Now, productivity continues to rise while wages are stagnant. Many believe technology and automation are to blame. 

First, research and advisory firm Gartner highlighted the significant benefits of AI augmentation — humans working with technology. Gartner notes that the impact is nonlinear: “Many significant innovations in the past have been associated with a transition period of temporary job loss, followed by recovery, then business transformation, and AI will likely follow this route.”

Deloitte published a white paper that analyzed job changes in England and Wales over the past 144 years (since 1871) and the impact of technology. Deloitte’s high-level findings are that technology has created many more jobs than it destroyed, saved Britons from “dull, repetitive, and dangerous work,” and “lowered the cost of essentials, raising disposable incomes and creating new demand and jobs.”

 Are these wider economic trends relevant to the building and real estate industry? What does a similar analysis of job growth indicate?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes detailed employment data by job category. Recent editions of the Energy Information Administration’s Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) include penetration rates for building automation systems (and other technologies). One can draw some conclusions by comparing these data sets, much as the Deloitte researchers did. (Note: BLS states that due to its collection methodology, year-over-year comparisons are not precise. That said, directionally they are indicative of changes in employment.)

A few BLS occupations were selected for this brief analysis: Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers (49-9021), Engineering Managers (11-9041), Security and Fire System Installers (49-2098), Elevator Installers and Repairers (47-4021), and Construction and Building Inspectors (47-4011). These are not the only roles within building management, but they are specific enough to buildings that some insights and conclusions can be made. BLS combines other key building and facility roles within larger employment buckets, making it difficult to identify trends within this industry.

Three of these positions have shown healthy growth in employment over the past 15 years. The number of HVAC mechanics and installers has increased from 197,930 in 2000 to 294,730 in 2016, a growth rate of 2.5 percent per year. Security and fire installation employment, a much smaller employment group, has grown more significantly, from 38,810 in 2000 to 67,700 in 2016 (a growth rate of 3.5 percent per year). Employment in construction and building inspection also has grown over this time, from 68,690 to 94,960 (a growth rate of 2 percent per year).

There are two relevant employment categories that have seen reductions in employment numbers. Architectural and Engineering Managers, which include occupations like Mechanical Engineering Director and Global Engineering Manager, have dropped from 242,280 in 2000 to 178,390 in 2016. The Elevator Installers and Repairers role has seen a slight decline from 25,100 jobs to 22,240. These are declines of 1.9 percent and .75 percent each year, respectively.

Architectural and engineering manager employment could be declining due to more outsourcing of facility management to roles like HVAC mechanics. Or, broader economic trends like the great recession could have impacted the total job count as corporations shed some auxiliary and support roles. The slight decline in elevator installation and repair may be due to increasingly reliable equipment that needs less maintenance and lasts longer.

CBECS does not align directly with these employment categories, but it does indicate that more buildings are being automated and equipped with technology. For example, the survey notes an increase in the penetration of “Energy Management and Control Systems,” an analogue for a building automation system (BAS), from 9.9 percent of all commercial buildings in 1999, to 14.1 percent of buildings in 2012 (the most recent year of CBECS data).

At the same time, there has been a slight decline in HVAC maintenance, from 59.8 percent to 57.2 percent. With around 5.5 million commercial buildings in the U.S., a 2.6 percent decline means that many buildings no longer conduct routine maintenance. That alone should lead to a reduction in total HVAC employment, because it is a very manual service- and human-driven job. However, the exact opposite is happening: There are many more HVAC installers and maintainers.

At the same time, CBECS also reports that more buildings are cooling their floor space: The percentage of space that is not cooled has dropped from 23.6 percent in 1999 to 19.7 percent in 2012. And, the percentage of space that has 100 percent of the floor cooled has increased from 38.6 percent to 43 percent. Overall, it seems that the increase in HVAC penetration and the increase in BAS penetration are driving higher employment, while the reduction in HVAC maintenance may be due to more reliable equipment that requires less ongoing service.

Based on these reliable data sources, it appears that buildings are being automated and employment in the industry is growing. Moreover, beyond raw employment numbers, other key trends are starting to impact building operations. First, the roles themselves are changing.

In its Future of Work report, the World Economic Forum investigates the skills that will be required in the future for many different jobs. When looking at installation and maintenance jobs, the researchers note that the role “will see great productivity enhancements and strong growth in green jobs such as the installation, retrofitting, repair and maintenance of smart meters and renewable energy technologies in residential and office buildings, but — at an aggregate level — will also come face-to-face with the efficiency-saving and labour-substituting aspect of the Internet of Things.”

The report also notes that while some tasks will be automated, others will simply become more analytical or change in other ways. It’s safe to assume that with the substantial increase in data from buildings, many of the roles operating and maintaining them will become more data-driven.

Moreover, the International Facility Management Association and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors released last year the third edition of a report focusing on the talent gap in facility management. The high-level findings are that the industry needs an influx of young, new talent (more RICS members are over 70 than under 30).

In general, the role as practiced continues to be too tactical. Based on a survey of 2,500 facility managers, the report notes that the head of facility management role still spends almost 50 percent of his/her time on day-to-day tasks and only 30 percent on strategic planning. The report notes that occupant demands of the office are rising, a war for talent continues, and concerns like health and well-being are becoming top of mind.

Facilities management leaders (and their teams) will need to adapt to these expectations, which will change the role and responsibilities. The survey also notes that many respondents suggested that facilities management should be focused on “helping people to do work rather than managing service provision.“ It seems that more automation may help facility managers and their teams become more strategic and adapt to the changing expectations of the role.

Second, there is an emerging talent gap in facility management. Siemens recently said that it is having trouble filling factory maintenance jobs, which entail diagnosing problems in industrial machinery. Siemens representatives profiled in the article note that in the past, a technician could listen to a machine and quickly diagnose the problem. These days, it’s rare to find employees with such a skill set, so automation and artificial intelligence could fill the gap while continuing to employ workers to make repairs and cultivate relationships with clients.

Facility management employment continues to grow, as does demand for advanced technology in buildings. A recent study commissioned by Dell and Intel found that 44 percent of employees think their office is not smart enough, and 57 percent believe that within five years, they will be working in a smart office. Dell and Intel include an IOT-enabled workplace in their definition of a smart office.

For now, it does not appear that automation will lead to significant job losses in the industry. However, facility and building managers need to address other, more critical issues, such as training employees to be prepared to use rapidly advancing technology and attracting more talent to the industry.

Article Source: View Original Article Source here

How Stratafy helps?

Stratafy has been built in a way to support Building and Facility Managers change their roles to be supporting buildings to easy and effectively manage their business. To make it simple easy and all at their fingertips.

Book in a demo today to see how facility and building management maximise operations.