Using Mobile Technology to Streamline Day-to-Day Building Operations

Using Mobile Technology to Streamline Day-to-Day Building Operations

Using Mobile Technology to Streamline Day-to-Day Building Operations

Case Study
There is no denying that mobile apps are having an impact in our lives and on our buildings. But there is a significant lag in the real estate industry around building operators and facilities managers actually adopting mobile applications. They buy the software and they spend money on it every year but most are not using it effectively.
Mobile is quickly becoming the foundation for every other technology currently being installed in buildings. It allows for faster response times, real time data collection, transparency and time savings. In fact without mobile, sensors and the Internet of Things cannot really work to their full potential. Aware Manager’s Courtney Porcella shared some insights with Propmodo about how mobile can help building managers streamline their day-to-day operations. 

Tracking vendor activity

Mobile can provide a great link between building operations staff and third party service providers. If a service provider is performing an inspection they can have access to the history of previous readings. This can be used to determine if current performance is an outlier or if the issue at-hand is consistent. A common problem with using outside vendors is tracking the information they collect. If a building manager relies solely on the vendor’s system then it can be very difficult to access the data. Building managers need to always know what each vendor is doing as it’s happening. Keep in mind that any report generated on the manager’s behalf by a vendor is a by product of the work order and belongs to the building. There is no reason why managers shouldn’t have direct access to that in real time via mobile phone technology.


Monitoring daily inspections

Every building manager says they have an inspection program but odds are it’s probably not being done consistently. Most building operations inspection data is probably living in a binder. Each person should have the ability to search on a mobile app for every work order needing to be completed each day. There’s no reason for people to be walking around a property with radios doing inspection rounds. With geolocation and mobile, managers can actually see where building operations staff are and what they’re doing in real time. They can also receive automatic notifications when inspections are complete and, perhaps most importantly, maintain an audit trail.


Integration existing systems

In most buildings, adding mobile capabilities is going to require some integration with other IT systems. Building managers shouldn’t fear it. Involving the IT department early on is an opportunity for collaboration. In addition to the IT department, building operations can take this opportunity to increase engagement with tenants. Most tenants will appreciate the increased transparency and the promise of improved response times. Today more than ever tenants are coming to expect on-demand service, easy monitoring and transparent processes. Mobile technology can facilitate that.

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How Stratafy helps?

At Stratafy we focus on building transparency and mobility. Our systems directly integrate without the high cost in I.T. as well a direct connection to contractors for the work that is being done, to ensure transparency to the end users all the way through.

Request a demo to see how we have innovated this space.

Crowdsourcing and Smart Cities: A Winning Combination

Crowdsourcing and Smart Cities: A Winning Combination

Crowdsourcing and Smart Cities: A Winning Combination

Importance of Proptech

The evolving trend of Smart Cities is one that governments should be wholeheartedly embracing, but as with many government initiatives, seems to be having a hard time getting off the ground. Embedding crowdsourcing and innovation management into the Smart Cities initiative could be what makes the difference.

At first glance, the term “smart government” appears to be oxymoronic. And no further explanation is needed. However, on a closer glance, when you read about and think about the deep changes business and industries have gone through, including digital transformation, you look back at the governments and think, “Aren’t they stuck? No wonder nothing much is achieved!” And when you look at the way things are progressing: from smart phones to smart watches to smart cars, smart offices, smart cities, etc., the natural evolution of the course should be smart, or digital, government that not only enables more efficient engagement between its personnel but also upgraded contact with the people, including value-generating services.

Is Your City Becoming Smarter?

In recent years, thanks in large to the Internet and proliferation of mobile devices, people have become accustomed to receive instant customer service. It logically follows that local administrations and governments should follow suit. Cities such as around the world are all adapting technological and digital tools to optimize services and the city infrastructure. In Amsterdam, for example, over 500,000 households are connected to smart meters. These digital gas and electric meters automatically send consumption information to the utilities provider. This also allows users to see their exact consumption and what steps they can take to save energy. In Barcelona, the transport tickets are embedded with chips which pass along data on public transportation times and usage, which can be used to make the system more efficient as well as keep commuters informed on travel times. Copenhagen’s smart city ambitions aim to harness technology and digital tools to make the city greener, healthier and attract more businesses. While these are an auspicious start to the Smart City trend, they are still the outlier, and not indicative of most cities.

Taking a page from cities around the world who are adapting advanced technologies and digital tools to systematically upgrade the infrastructure and quality of life for the citizens, the government needs to adapt a similar approach to make its branches more accessible while more effective in its handling of statewide affairs. The most obvious example would be natural-disaster prone cities and states, where technologies can be used to prepare these places well in advance, as well as try and reduce potential damages as much as possible. 

Smart Cities Harnessing Digital Transformation 

Digital transformation has enabled direct, practically instant communication with citizens. Harnessing this ability has enabled local governments that have gone through the digital transformation process to keep up with citizen demands and provide instant feedback and support to citizen requirements. Even the cities that have embraced digital transformation, however, are lagging behind the private sector.

It’s no secret that most of the tech innovation and digital disruption takes place in the private sector. It’s also no secret that digitally mature organizations tend to rate much higher with customers than those who are still in the middle or start of the process, to say nothing of not digitally transforming at all. In order to become “smart”, governments need to “import” talents, ideas and innovations from that world and adapt them to the somber-looking world of clerks and seemingly never-ending cycle of bureaucracy. Because digital and technological transformation cut more deeply than a simple website or social media “paint job,” as it were, external innovators from the private sectors must be involved from the start.

Source: Deloitte

In order for a Smart City program to be successful, the government’s initiative should include:

Like all good things, everything starts with a strategy to implement the digital transformation and its core attributes – culture, leadership, staff, accompanied with a way to track and measure the department/body’s goals.

Internal Engagement
As a part of the launch of the initiative, as many different players and internal stakeholders should be engaged, establishing sustainable collaboration from within the government.

External Engagement
Once the internal component of the program has been launched and is running smoothly, it is time to complete the second stage of the rollout, engaging external stakeholders as well, from all sectors of the economy. One can and should only take a hard look at the drought in South Africa, where the embracement of technological solutions from external sources could have greatly alleviated, if not prevented, the water catastrophe. Shortsighted water management strategy, coupled with the resistance for collaboration with external groups to implement solutions such as desalination, helped dig South Africa into the serious drought hole in which it found itself.

Private Sector Participation
It’s been proven that companies with consumer-centric digital solutions have made the digital transformation far more successfully than companies that didn’t. While until now “government” and “quality, customer-centric” service seemed like a difficult combination, technology and digital transformation does make connecting with people easier. The question is, how can the government implement digital solutions to cater its citizens in the best possible manner?

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How Stratafy helps?

Stratafy embodies smart cities and smart buildings and everything you see in the image to the left we help drive within the eco-system.

Five Ways Technology Is Shaping CRE Property Management

Five Ways Technology Is Shaping CRE Property Management

Five Ways Technology Is Shaping CRE Property Management

Importance of Proptech

Here are several ways—both big and small—commercial real estate firms are using platforms, services and products to better manage and enhance the use of their assets.

The commercial real estate industry is not usually first thought of when it comes to technological advancements. But slowly, that is changing. Increasingly, technology is helping property management firms automate systems and processes, and improving tenants’ experiences.

“Cushman & Wakefield makes enhancements to its operating platform on a continuous basis,” says Edina Lemo, a managing director in the real estate services firm’s New York office, in an email. “Some of these enhancements serve to help us operate better internally (i.e. streamlining of HR processes) and some enhancements serve clients (i.e. quality of financial reporting).”

Several real estate experts we spoke with say ease of use and the ability to integrate into existing systems—as many say their firms partner with third parties to develop technologies—are key when weighing whether to incorporate new products.

While some technologies may provide straightforward solutions to systematize how buildings and tenants are managed, others seek to provide amenities and data to landlords and tenants—like the use of heat sensors to gather information on how workers move about an office and whether it’s the most efficient use of that space.

“I think there’s a coming seismic shift in the way that we use data and technology inside real estate,” says Eddy Wagoner, global CIO of corporate solutions at real estate services firm JLL.

Here are several ways—both big and small—commercial real estate firms are using platforms, services and products to better manage and enhance the use of their assets.

  1. Boosting Efficiencies: Karen Whitt, president of U.S. investor services and project management and real estate management at Colliers International, believes the real estate firm’s property management tools should work to improve at least one of three categories: productivity, end-users’ experiences and clients’ revenue-generating opportunities. The first category centers on tools that boost financial and operating efficiencies, such as reviewing equipment performance before problems occur, Whitt says. To boost the experiences of end users, such as a corporate tenants’ employees, Colliers focuses on technology that fosters convenience and community. For example, the firm is rolling out a new app called Ritual in Canada that allows individuals in a building to order food at local eateries to avoid waiting in lines, Whitt says. Finally, the firm also works to find ways clients can have opportunities to build revenue through real estate. For example, the firm is in conversations with a platform called Dark Store, which provides urban fulfillment in vacant or underutilized spaces, like an unused basement or garage. “It allows us to create an additional revenue source if it can be used that way,” Whitt says. Generally, Colliers—like many other firms—aims to partner with outside companies that have products that can interface with Colliers’ existing technology. The firm recently launched an accelerator program to mentor and invest in startups focused on real estate tech.
  2. Helping Tenants: To recruit top corporate clients, JLL is working on programs and applications that allow for more individualized customization of properties, Wagoner says. The goal is to boost employee productivity and satisfaction, which drives corporate tenants’ bottom lines. For example, JLL is utilizing technology such as heat sensors to determine where and how employees tend to utilize a space. In general, JLL tends to adhere to a build-buy model when it comes to technology—using outside companies to provide certain technology, such as the heat sensors, and building some of the integration platforms, if there are multiple providers in a building, Wagoner says. “We are working to deliver products and apps that will interact and will deliver that employee experience to our client and our clients’ occupants in a seamless fashion,” Wagoner says. This includes a smartphone app so employees in an office, for example, can order food from local eateries or book a conference room. “For your building to compete in the future, it will need to be enabled,” Wagoner adds.
  3. Data Visualization: “The amount of information is very overwhelming, and it’s not going to get reduced,” says Patrick McGrath, CIO and head of client technologies at real estate services firm Savills Studley. These constant streams of information have led the firm to focus on how to best visualize all of it. For example, Savills Studley’s Knowledge^3 platform, using artificial intelligence technology from Leverton, creates data visualizations and analytics from end users’ imported real estate documents, such as leases. Another emerging product the firm utilizes to help it visualize data is called Matterport, which allows people to virtually walk around the interior of an existing space using 3-D renderings, McGrath says.
  4. Document Management: Practicality matters when it comes to property management technology at Avison Young, a real estate services firm. “It’s all about practical solutions. No one’s impressed by fluff,” says Michael Vullis, a principal at the real estate services firm’s Fort Lauderdale, Fla. office. “We are a business that is not fluff-oriented.” For example, about six months ago, the firm partnered with an outside company—which Vullis declined to name—to help Avison Young manage tenants’ certificates of insurance. Previously, individual employees were constantly following up with tenants to provide the documentation—a lease requirement—but the third party has automated the process, including follow-up responses, saving time and resources. “The advantage of having a third party is there’s no discussion,” Vullis notes. “It just gets done.”
  5. Organizing Data: Data is a huge demand now, and VEREIT is in the process of transitioning to a new cloud-based structure through Microsoft to house VEREIT’s information, says Jeff Keen, vice president of real estate operations. “It will definitely be a significant step up from our current data structure,” Keen says, adding, “This is going to be really a game changer.” The goal of the change is to help ensure that data is accurate, eliminate redundancies and customize the services VEREIT needs. For example, if there are some retailers struggling and filing for bankruptcy, the firm can quickly scan through its data to determine its level of exposure, Keen says. VEREIT also works with robotic process automation—essentially using robots to overtake manual, tedious tasks. For example, instead of having someone go through tenants’ websites for their quarterly earnings reports, the firm eventually could teach a robot to take over that task. “It allows us to more proactively manage our portfolios because we’re not spending time doing menial tasks,” Keen says.



How Stratafy helps?

Stratafy plays in all 5 area’s creating an ecosystem of experience, services, optimisation, automation. We have a proven model that is easy to utilise and changes the game forever.

Top 5 IoT “Quick Wins” for Smart Buildings

Top 5 IoT “Quick Wins” for Smart Buildings

Top 5 IoT “Quick Wins” for Smart Buildings

Importance of Proptech

There isn’t one distinct thing a building can change to become “smart.” Each building and its occupants are unique and require a unique approach. However, many times occupants and owners can feel the difference intuitively when working in a smart building.

The benefit of having a smart building is hard to value, and sometimes the best way to understand that value is to make the leap and implement low-capital cost, non-invasive projects that provide small yet potent improvements. Gathering these quick wins can help sell and lead into bigger endeavors. I’ll list my top 5 IoT projects to give your building a higher education.


1. Analytics: Find things you never knew before!

The quickest way to jump into IoT for Smart Buildings is to use data that is already being captured by your building’s automation systems. The systems that control the HVAC and energy-using systems are great places to start. Installing analytics software can identify new insights into the operation of your building which can lead to more informed decision-making and eventually a more efficient and reliable building.

Analytics software can immediately crunch large amounts of existing data and identify things that are typically hard or impossible for a building technician to find, such as:

  • Identifying spaces where the temperature is out of control (large swings over the course of the day)
  • Mechanical/Electrical equipment that is broken, but hard to identify
  • Equipment that is using more energy than typical/ideal

Knowledge is power, and by more quickly and reliably identifying issues where the building operators can take positive corrective action makes for a healthy, smarter building.

2. Engage your occupants: Treat the occupants of your building like the customers they are.

Typically, building managers consult often with their tenant’s management staff. However, usually there is no direct line of feedback from occupants to the building management or operations team. There are several commercially available applications that make it easier to get consistent occupant feedback that can be analyzed in a consistent and statistical way to track occupant satisfaction.

The most important part of operating a Smart Building is not changing technology, it’s changing the operational mindset. By closing the feedback loop between the users of the building and the operators and systems that serve them, the building can be improved in a methodically way.

Each change to a building (i.e. renovations, mechanical upgrades, sustainability projects, etc) can be rigorously tested to determine if they improve the occupant experience or not. By receiving consistent and quantifiable occupant feedback, the true value of building improvement projects can be measured.

3. Upgrade your automation firepower!

Many buildings have outdated systems (think Windows 2000) that control the HVAC, lighting, and other functions of the building. Automation technology is the foundation of a Smart Building, and if this technology is too old to support more modern add-ons, then IoT projects can be dead on arrival.

Sometimes the most important projects are foundational ones that can lead to bigger and better things. Smart Building projects/programs start with an investigation into what exists in the building in the first place. A single line diagram of all the controls systems is created (controllers, communication protocols, rough understanding of connected sensors and data quality and flow) and from there, a plan can be engineered to best suit to goals of the building.

4. View your building through a single pane of glass: Centralize the operation of your buildings functions and integrate them together.

Another foundation to Smart Buildings is to bring previously separate systems together. Most buildings, even today, are built with separate controls systems to operate different functions of the buildings (HVAC, lighting, security, elevators, etc) and they do not communicate with each other. When these systems are run on separate servers, with separate user interfaces, its can be complicated to operate a building, like using a phone with too many apps.

There are many commercially available solutions to integrate separate systems together, which usually requires the help of a specialized contractor, such as a controls systems integrator. However, the effort can be well worth it, and the building operators will forever thank you for providing an easier system to help them run the building.


5. Batten down the hatches: Make your facility cyber secure

And last but not least, the elephant in the room: Cybersecurity. A building can’t be smart unless its secure. Building systems are too critical (think hospitals, data centers, etc.) and are becoming too interconnected with other functions to not have a cyber security plan in place. This work should be completed alongside other automation upgrades projects, where the first step is a complete investigation and identification of all controls systems interconnection. Usually, the building’s control systems (“OT” – operational technology) are maintained by one group and the building’s IT systems (other networks, servers, switches, routers) are maintained by a separate group.

Bringing these folks together, who typically rarely work with one another, to talk security is an important mindset change and is not easy.

Smart buildings rely equally on smart technology and smart people. Remember, the actions people take to improve the occupant experience is more valuable than the tech used to help them along the way. These 5 projects for Smart Buildings can help building operational and management teams improve occupant satisfaction, comfort, and cyber security.

How Stratafy helps?

5 Quick wins is what stratafy does at its core. It can be costly, hard to get your head around and daunting. But Stratafy has made it more plug and play then ever before.




Importance of Proptech
  • Technology enables flexibility to match the uncertain future for many businesses.
  • A cultural shift is taking place where CRE is evolving into a service-based industry.
  • Strong brand recognition and adaptability are key for landlords and operators to survive.

Advanced digitisation is sweeping across every sector and the property industry has not escaped its grasp, especially when we look at the rise of PropTech products and services.

But what exactly is PropTech?

It’s another catchphrase that simple describes the technology being tailored to the property industry. It’s the ubiquitous wifi connectivity, smart access systemsadvanced software systems and robot receptionists designed to make your experience in a building as seamless as possible.

Consequently, PropTech is changing the face of our offices and forcing landlords to embrace a service-based culture. One New York City-real estate expert even predicts the rise of real estate as a service-based industry where landlords will own no assets, tenants will not take leases, and the concept of office-as-a-building will no longer exist.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Marcus Moufarrige, COO at serviced office provider Servcorp. Moufarrige believes technology is at the heart of this change, “there are two changes that happen with technology: fundamental and peripheral changes. While there are not many fundamental changes that take place in technology, there have been thousands of peripheral changes that have happened around these fundamental changes that interconnect their capability.”

What does this mean for the real estate industry? It means that the impact of PropTech will be steady and continuous, with the following highlights:

  1. Flexibility is key

The way operators and landlords run their buildings is undergoing continuous, incremental change, according to Moufarrige, who explained that “there is a lot of volatility in the market, so business owners do not know where their businesses will be in the future.

“So we need to structure the [real estate] business so it’s flexible, which means we need more coworking spaces and increased efficiencies. As a result, technologies including artificial intelligence and robotics, coupled with data analytics, could now affect your head count as a landlord as they allow you to meet these new flexibility demands and, ultimately, offer a better customer experience.”

This demand for smart buildings and smarter landlords was prevalent at the recent Disrupt CRE conference in New York City. From machine learning to big data, the key message was, “If you’re in the CRE business, you’re in the technology business” – and creating a human-centric workplace or building experience is key in moving forward.

  1. No more tenants, only customers

This new emphasis on the customer experience is a change of direction for the real estate industry. “It comes down to the customer experience, which has not been a priority for landlords. But there are a lot of opportunities for landlords to improve the customer experience through automation and, for example, allowing tenants to securely access a building space,” Moufarrige added.

The change from running a property company to running a hospitality-minded business is not an easy transition and this will, initially, need to be outsourced to specialist companies. Moufarrige said: “A quick fix is to operate a flexible workspace and bring a service culture into your portfolio.”

 To build that capability and expertise “takes time and knowledge”, according to Moufarrige, and landlords should outsource to specialist companies to help them learn how to operate in this new, flexible world of work.

For example, Chinese coworking brand Ucommune recently launched a bespoke IT and design service. Known as “U Bespoke”, this made-to-order consultancy service integrates interior and IT system design for landlords and corporate members, as part of the company’s evolution into a total workplace solution provider.

  1. Attitudes will need to change

It’s not just the technology that needs upgrading, a cultural shift is also required in the real estate business, according to Moufarrige, who said: “The [real estate] industry is the only industry where we do not have customers; we have tenants. There is a mentality where the landlord truly is the ‘lord’ and the tenant is the ‘minion’, and that should not exist in the modern world.”

But attitudes are changing. “Phenomena such as working from home has had an impact where tenants need to use a space more effectively. Many landlords are embracing change to get a better return.”

Again, this change comes back to flexibility where companies and individuals can hotdesk and use coworking spaces or office space on an adhoc basis. It’s also a prevalent trend as the number of corporate or enterprise customers (those with 1,000 or more employees) using WeWork has doubled from last year to more than 1,000 businesses and 25% of WeWork’s annual revenue now comes from such companies.

  1. Brand recognition means a better bottom line

Landlords who take a service-based approach and use technology to improve the customer experience will realise a range of benefits. For example, if you can move between the floors of a building without losing your VPN or wifi connection, you’ve just resolved a major headache for many office workers.

This positive experience will improve your brand recognition. “This seamless portfolio experience is important going forward. We’re seeing this already in New York where tenants are looking for a better customer experience – and this trend is starting to spread around the world.”

Speaking at the Disrupt CRE conference one speaker said: “The tenant experience is important to us because that’s what attracts people to our buildings.”

To create that experience, owners are taking older buildings off the market, and they are adding amenities and technology to be more competitive. “Landlords want to be able to take the technology innovation they’ve built into their building and say to a prospective tenant, ‘Hey, you should come to our building because your employees are going to be X more productive and efficient than the guy next door,’” they added.

  1. There is a limit to growth

Such change is not without its challenges, however. “Property is not an easy business [and] it is difficult to achieve hypergrowth. However, there is real change coming driven by the ambitions of people like WeWork and flexibility enabled by technology is a driver for making that happen,” he added.

However, Frank Cottle, chairman of the Alliance Business Center group of companies, feels “that the limits are not really in sight, and that the Future of Work, will include new PropTech elements such as virtual reality, AI and a host of new products that will totally disrupt our existing concepts of the workplace.”

So, we appear to be at a tipping point. And, while PropTech won’t enable world domination for any one operator, it will help landlords and operators to focus on and improve the customer experience to give them a recognisable and trusted brand in the years ahead.

How Stratafy helps?

As a mobile first focus, Stratafy becomes the key to ensuring the owners and tenants are front of mind.

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. 


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 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.