Internet of Things

The question is not if IoT – the Internet of Things – will change the landscape of the multi-family market, but how.


Consider this: According to recent studies, 69 percent of consumers plan to buy a smart device in the next five years. Even more, by 2020 it is projected that there will be around 25 billion connected devices, translating to approximately 26 smart objects per person.


While that can be overwhelming for multi-family property owners and managers, it’s also very exciting. The Internet 

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of Things (IoT) is becoming more accessible and easier to use, bringing new opportunities to properties which embrace evolving technologies and position themselves as providers of a more convenient and comfortable living experience.


What is IoT?


Understanding IoT is the beginning of being able to use it in your business.


“IoT is really pretty simple. It’s billions of pieces of equipment connected together,” says Allegion Futurist Rob Martens.


He says the phrase was actually coined way back in 1999. At that point, the Internet was dependent on people for information, but there was an understanding – a futuristic vision – that eventually smart devices would input data themselves and reveal previously unseen actions, such as shopping habits, usage, productivity, cost savings and more – just by recognizing patterns in the mass of data.


Martens says this vision has started to become a reality thanks to a few important developments over the past several years:

  • Decreasing cost of connectivity as sensors, bandwidth and cloud computing become more affordable
  • Improvement and sophistication of data analysis
  • Low cost or free Wi-Fi
  • Increase in smart devices, especially smartphones
  • Scalability with an unlimited number of IP addresses possible


All of this has combined to bring IoT into the forefront. The low cost of equipment and service combined with the high value has created greater productivity and, most importantly, new revenue streams.

What does IoT mean for multi-family properties?


A lot, according to Martens.


“IoT requires close collaboration with integrators,” he says. “A symphony without a conductor only produces dissonant noise. The same applies to IoT. The integrator is the conductor, the one who will put all the devices together to create the exact experience that you desire for your residents and staff.”


In fact, Martens says we’re already seeing some emerging IoT trends:

  • Connected homes: smart thermostats, security, lighting, entertainment
  • Connected cars: vehicle diagnostics, navigation, fleet management, etc.
  • Wearables: glasses and activity trackers
  • Industrial Internet: real-time analytics, robotics, supply chain efficiencies
  • Connected cities: smartgrids, meters, real-time monitoring


To benefit from these trends now, multi-family property owners and managers must understand that they are not just buying a current solution – they are making an investment in future technology using the embedded tools and infrastructure they have today.


How does IoT change customer expectations?

Martens says that the “Experience Economy” – a term first coined by B. Joseph Pine and James H. Gilmore in 1998 – accurately describes what the multi-family market can expect to see with IoT customers in the years



“People are increasingly choosing homes with the total experience in mind,” he explains. “It’s not about the functionality of the gadgets offered, but what they actually do to provide a complete experience, whether it’s security, entertainment, health or something else. It’s how technology and style fuse together to enable an experience that is intuitive and innovative at the same time.”


What can multi-family property owners and managers do to prepare?

“IoT shouldn’t be thought of as a grab bag,” says Martens. “It really requires property management to consider how solutions respond to residents and allow them to interact with their environment in a way that makes dayto- day life easier.”


For example, when it comes to building security, IoT is really about how a building responds to users, anticipates their life, and allows users and the environment to adjust to one another.


As a result, one of the first things that Martens believes property owners and managers will need to do is to allow integrators to gain access to parts of the building they’ve not had access to before.


“Integrators will need to monitor and be more familiar with how technology is used in a building than they have had to in the past,” he says. “That will likely require many to expand their scope of services.”


At the same time, with a wider platform, it’s an opportunity for multi-family properties to determine the technology areas in which they want to grow or develop deep expertise in order to offer a better experience for their unique resident population.


Not surprisingly, security and privacy will grow in importance. This growth, Martens says, requires property owners and managers to follow age-old parental advice: choose your friends carefully.


“You’re only as strong as your weakest link,” he says. “If you pair a high-quality device with something that’s not, you risk exposing your entire system.”


He advises multi-family professionals to do their due diligence by investigating the level of security provided. At the same time, they should evaluate:

  • Ease of installation
  • Paths for upgrades
  • Types and degrees of flexibility
  • Additional capabilities
  • Amount of ongoing service required


Finally, Martens says they also need to become well-versed in the multitude of technologies that are emerging in the market.


“It’s important to educate yourself on the differences between technologies,” Martens says. “By understanding the strength of the various solutions, you will be better able to work with integrators to develop a solution that uses the Internet of Things in the best way for your residents.”


About Rob Martens:

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As Allegion’s Futurist, Martens helps guide, inspire and challenge old ways of thinking. He has an in-depth knowledge of technology and how it works, but prefers looking at the big picture of how technology overall can benefit real people going about their day in the real world. Martens spends his days looking for patterns and associations in tech advancements, identifying trends and determining how they can be applied to make life easier for Schlage’s consumers. He has been fortunate enough to form lasting relationships with some of the most influential players in the tech industry, while retaining his own interests and passions for discovering the best possible user experience for keeping people safe where they live

and work. These relationships have allowed Martens to gain new, unexpected insights into the tech industry and apply them to the life safety industry that Schlage thrives in. This also allows him to influence those players and collaborate with them to expand the industry while creating solutions that make sense for consumers. Most recently, Martens has been featured as an expert panelist at the Oppenheimer Technology Conference, International CES, the Golden Seeds Annual Summit, the IoT Global Innovation Forum, Internet of Things World, and APPNATION IoT – among others.

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