When you take a quick look at the real estate industry, technology isn’t the first attribute that comes to mind. Scratching the surface, however, will reveal that Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly changing how things are done in this industry.
In the past, when one talked about upgrades to buildings and properties, they would typically think about remodelling the kitchen or getting a new set for the dining room. Nowadays, however, these upgrades come in the form of smaller, powerful gadgets, such as smart lights, smart thermostats and cameras.
These add value to the home and can go to the extent of creating a futuristic feel. That has been made possible through the IoT — which simply refers to everyday objects that are connected to the internet for the purpose of monitoring, managing and gathering data from them.
Disruptive innovations in the digital divide are already fuelling the growth of smart real estate products and processes. This is making buildings to be more intelligent. Smart home solutions and providers, as well, are on the rise. Buildings and the surrounding environment generate data every second, everyday.
Through IoT, this data can be processed to provide value-added insights that can be used to provide real estate product consumers with automated solutions that will simplify their day-to-day activities and allow them to enjoy life. By detecting your habits, IoT will create a better living experience.
For example, a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system can be used in such a way that it senses the ambient temperature and the homeowner’s schedule and, in turn, makes adjustments before the occupant enters the house. You can control temperature, lighting and security, and more conveniently, from your smartphone.
A smart security system can improve the safety of the house by sensing and analysing regular activities in the house and thereby notifying the owner of any irregularities. With the current system, when there is a break-in, the alarm goes off and notifies the external surveillance to attend to this.
That is not a bad thing. However, with IoT, it can be better. A notification can be immediately sent to you and the nearest firefighting station, making the response more efficient.
IoT can actively ‘learn’ about a customer’s behaviour pattern — where they spend their time and their preferences for houses based on search and house visits. With this actionable information, real estate firms can, in turn, streamline their operations and have design layouts that meet consumers’ tastes and preferences.
Home buying need not be complicated. With IoT, developers and buyers can adopt beacon technology, whereby houses on sale are equipped with ‘beacons’ that send push notifications to potential buyers with specifications about the property.
With several properties under the mandate, it can be difficult to have a top-down real-time view of the property. But IoT can simplify this to enhance decision making. From the point of view of developers, homeowners and potential customers, it can assist in making better decisions, and faster too.
You don’t have to call someone to have them switch off lights that you left on by mistake. You also probably want to get a heads-up before or as soon as a light bulb or lift is not operational.
IoT, coupled with analytics, can record patterns of operation, initiate predictive and preventive maintenance and capture energy consumption patterns. It can then come up with a plan to enforce better and more efficient energy consumption.
For example, it can automatically turn off electronics that the owner left on and turn them back on when the owner is at the entrance of the house.
In this age of innovation, buildings and properties need to have the capacity to work in alignment with your business and personal objectives. What if your building had the capability to work with you and understand your trends so as to optimise your environment? This is the IoT real estate promise.
Disruption is coming to the real estate industry. Firms need to align their processes and products to factor in IoT into them. There are some bumps in the road before the disruptions happen, such as the privacy of data collected and lack of interoperability of devices, but it is worth noting that the physical and digital worlds are merging.
IoT is going to propel the real estate industry in a technology-based operation. Whether you are on the real estate side or the technology side, there is a need to start investing in IoT.
Mr Memusi is an IT support engineer at Cytonn Investments. [email protected]