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IoT & the Future of Multi-Family (MDU) WiFiNovember 11, 2019
By John-Michael Jenkins
Director of Product Management & Marketing
Homes and businesses have fully embraced the internet of things (IoT), which is an ever-growing network of devices designed with IP addresses to connect to the internet. Everything from security systems to smart thermostats are making life easier for homeowners and business owners, while also maximizing resource efficiency. But what about multi-family/multi-dwelling units (MDUs) like apartments, student housing, and senior living facilities?
Today’s reality is that MDUs are chockfull of IoT-ready devices. In a survey of 1,000 U.S. renters, Schlage and Wakefield Research found that 86% of millennials and 65% of baby boomers would be willing to pay 20% more for a unit that comes with remote-controlled devices or automated features.
For renters, IoT equals convenient, secure living through the use of smart devices. For property owners and building managers, IoT means:
- Higher property values
- More revenue from rent
- Buildings that attract more residents
- Decreased operational expenses
But before you can achieve these benefits, you need a strategy. Embracing IoT starts with offering reliable, scalable property-wide WiFi. Otherwise, the high-tech devices and appliances that your residents are bringing with them or that you are offering won’t have the necessary bandwidth to work.
Below, we outline several essential resident needs that depend on a reliable, powerful WiFi network.
3 Examples of WiFi Network Capabilities in Use Today
At this point in the game, renters, students, retirees, and the like are expecting the following IoT capabilities when they are deciding where to hang their hat:
- Remote Work Capabilities
Working from home — or really anywhere besides the office — is becoming the norm. Forbes reports that 50% of the U.S. workforce will soon be remote, with freelancers projected to be the majority of our workforce by 2027. Even if workers aren’t going fully remote, CNBC found that 70% of people work from home at least once a week. And what do remote workers need to do their jobs? Reliable WiFi!
Offering a WiFi network on your property can be a huge sell for renters who have a home office on their apartment wish list. Remote workers need high-speed internet access so they have the ability to move around their unit while on a conference call without having to worry about a spotty connection. They need a network that won’t lag while they’re using their video conferencing platform. And they need a secure connection so their hard work and company data isn’t compromised.
- Always-On WiFi
It’s Monday night and the resident in apartment 103 is settling in to stream a live football game on their Roku TV. Right in the middle of the third quarter while the game is tied, she gets a push notification on her smartphone that reminds her about tomorrow morning’s trash pickup. Not wanting the garbage pile up, she knows she has to take out the trash but doesn’t want to miss a second of the game. What is she to do?
With a property-wide WiFi network that was designed to support multiple devices, she can easily transition from watching the game on her TV to her portable iPad. This way, she can take the game with her on the way to the dumpster and she won’t miss a moment of the action.
- Voice Assistant Connectivity
One of the biggest players in the connected home space is voice assistant speakers. It’s almost hard to find a home without an Amazon Alexa or a Google Home device. In fact, eMarketer estimates that 111.8 million people in the U.S. use a voice assistant at least monthly, which is a 9.5% increase from last year.
MDUs everywhere are using the popularity of voice assistant speakers to help residents connect with their property for maximum convenience. The devices can be used to notify residents of fire safety testing, snow plowing, late rent payments, upcoming community events, and more.
3 Examples of IoT That Enhance the Living Experience
There are even more IoT strategies on the horizon! Below are three that will most likely be highest in demand in the coming years:
Smart door locks are one of the most coveted technological advancements catching the eyes of property owners. For MDU applications, smart door locks can improve employee and resident safety through security alerts and the immediate disablement of lost or stolen key cards.
In addition, locks can be remotely monitored, locked, unlocked, and reprogrammed if necessary. Delivery, housekeeping, dog walking, and maintenance personnel can utilize time-gated user codes to gain access to a building or unit, giving residents peace of mind that their home is protected while ensuring the things they need done are taken care of.
- Utilities Monitoring
Deloitte found that IoT can reduce the cost of energy, building maintenance, and spatial management by up to 30%.
Using strategically placed sensors, an IoT-enabled property management system (PMS) can sense, analyze, communicate, and respond to situations, people, and other equipment.
The PMS will be able to track motion, temperature, water flow, air pressure, lighting, and more to maximize building efficiency and enhance resident life. This means that 24/7/365, your system will be able to autonomously:
- Control temperature and lighting
- Detect gas or water leaks
- Monitor communal appliances (like washers and dryers)
Residents will also benefit greatly. A week-long summer trip to Paris might normally cause a renter in Boston to worry about their air conditioner settings, open blinds, and lighting, but IoT devices can ease these concerns.
Using IoT devices, lighting fixtures, temperature controls, and other comfort settings can be set to “away” to preserve resources. The apartment will know that no one is in the unit and can schedule certain lights to come on at night or dim the blinds, so the summer sun doesn’t make the unit too warm. Upon the resident’s return from their adventure in France, the apartment can revert the lighting and temperature settings to their preference, so they come home to a comfortable apartment.
It’s incredible what high-tech appliances like smart ovens and smart refrigerators can do. LG’s smart refrigerator can scan your receipt from the grocery store to keep an inventory of your items and then let you know when something is close to its expiration date. It can also suggest recipes based on the contents of your refrigerator and help you order items online using its built-in LCD screen!
Appliances can also talk to each other. LG’s smart refrigerator easily connects to their smart oven to share recipes and cooking instructions. After a long day working late, a resident can check the contents of their refrigerator from an app on their phone before they drive home. From there, they can search recipes and preheat the oven so their dinner is ready to cook as soon as they step through the door.
How Your Property Can Benefit from IoT
IoT is only going to continue to expand. The only way to keep up is to have an infrastructure that’s designed to evolve as quickly as the trends.
Single Digits is ready to help you build the infrastructure your property needs to offer the benefits of IoT for today and tomorrow. Contact us to learn how we can help you boost business by future-proofing your property!
Smart technology is redefining “home” as we know it. It’s no longer just where the heart is; it’s a connected space that can be tailored to a person’s unique lifestyle, needs and preferences. Download our helpful (and brief) eBook 5 Ways to Create an Experience Your Tenants Love and step into the era of connected living.