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The worlds of technology and real estate are colliding at a rapid pace, fundamentally transforming the way we design, construct, operate and interact with buildings and workplaces.
As one of Australia’s leading property groups, we are investing heavily to ensure we are at the forefront of innovation to better connect us to our tenant customers, and to provide them with leading workplaces for today and the future.
Smart building technology is about enhancing the tenant customer experience and driving greater efficiency, says Craig Rodgers, our Office Innovation Lead.
“For tenants, a smart building is one that makes for frictionless experience and more productive / enjoyable workdays,’’ says Craig. “For landlords and investors, hopefully that translates into happier customers, higher retention rates and better asset returns.’’
Behind the scenes, the internet of things, sensors and big data are enabling more efficient and environmentally friendly buildings. At the ‘front of house’, digital innovation and smartphone apps are providing tenants with new levels of personalisation, flexibility and connectivity.
Together, these advances unite to provide a smart ecosystem that enhances the occupant experience through creating better community, access to information and services , mobile security access, innovation and intelligent building management such as personalised air conditioning and environments.
“Technology is setting us free from our desks and enabling us to choose workplace environments that we enjoy working in, whether that’s from home or in an activity-based working environment, and to do that more effectively and efficiently,’’ says Craig.
“Within the office, it is delivering a personalised, customised experience and community environment. For example, we are seeing a real trend for customer-facing apps that connect people to their environment and provide access to services and information as well as build a sense of community.’’
Our current technology stack includes apps such as Comfy which allows tenant customers to control aspects of their workplace environment such as temperatures. It learns their preferences and uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver environments that match users’ requirements.
Another key technology is our workplace customer experience app - Charli. It connects people to information and services within the workplace, putting a range of functions at the fingertips from ordering a coffee to booking a meeting room, joining a yoga class or flagging issues and feedback with their building manager.
“We see Charli as a tool for driving community, wellness and sustainability across our portfolio, and engaging people on a deeper level,’’ says Craig.
“In the future, these technologies will converge to provide a single, frictionless interface giving people all the information and functionality they require on their smartphone.
“For example, we have a security system enabled at one of our buildings, 333 George Street in Sydney, which allows users to use a digital credential on their smartphone to get in and out of the building. In the very near future this function and others will be integrated into the the Charli app for single interface and hopefully a better workday.’’
Looking ahead, Craig sees technology in this space continuing to evolve rapidly. He points to facial recognition as an innovation he expects to see more of, where it will potentially be used for security and access control in our open environments.
“Around the world people are still working through some very legitimate privacy concerns, but we will eventually find a happy medium.’’
Artificial intelligence and machine learning will also continue to provide better environments and better experiences.
“It's about learning user preferences and then making changes or suggestions to improve the experience for the end user and the efficiency of the workplace. Craig points to Amsterdam’s Edge Olympic building, sometimes referred to as ‘the smartest building in the world’, as an example of where the future may be headed.
Opened last year, Edge Olympic is described as ‘’one big open ecosystem’’, where users can easily interconnect with the building and each other.
A single cloud platform makes a user’s smartphone both the key and remote control for the building. Designed to maximise user comfort, productivity and creativity, it allows people to access and book spaces, locate colleagues, control variables such as light levels and air conditioning, and provides a wide range of data including on noise levels and air quality.
It is possible to envisage a future where such smart buildings as Edge Olympic will ultimately be interconnected in urban networks, creating a more sentient experience between humans and the built environment where each building acts as a component of a city’s ‘operating system’ in an optimised work-life environment
Such connected urban communities may one day be able to maximise resource efficiency at scale, delivering new levels of health and wellness, productivity, connectivity and mobility - and ultimately quality of life.