Property Management Through A Digital Lens

By Nico van Dijk

Whether you are in commercial or corporate real estate, property and real estate managers have distinct needs when it comes to technology and software. The huge financial impact that is involved in corporate real estate for large organizations and multinationals combined with the increasing need for portfolio transparency, compliance, and business continuity, creates a need for specific technologies such as property management software.

But some companies are taking it one step further and preparing for a future where you—with a portable device like a tablet or Google Glasses—can project an extra layer of information over the physical world. We have already seen this in a few scenarios:

Scenario 1: Virtually exploring a building. 
Imagine that, before sending a maintenance technician out, the property manager can explore a location. For large locations, it’s often difficult to determine what keys or tools might be needed to reach and address the problem. However, this problem is resolved when you create a 3D environment using digital photos.

Schipol Airport in Amsterdam has already begun a pilot program using Google Glass data to support their employees when they are working in and around the airport. Their system offers an efficient way to access information and assists in the collection of data through location-determination and photos. And because Google Glass is hands-free and voice-controlled, Schipol’s technicians are able to easily access information while supporting the business. But they can also request information through the glasses, and let a specialist watch while resolving the problem. Collaboration becomes extremely easy.

They have also used the program to test how their customers perceive information and how easily they can navigate the airport, which presents interesting opportunities to other property managers interested in user testing for their facilities.

Scenario 2: Add an extra layer of information to reality
. There is a Planon customer that is taking digital images and placing an extra layer of information over these photos. As people virtually explore the building, they can also select assets and view the information on file about that asset.

Now imagine that someone—while walking through a building—can see information about the installations he or she is passing and whether they have a work order or not. This lets a technician work proactively to resolve problems, and increases the number of work orders resolved during an initial visit. For a large real estate portfolio, it then becomes possible for fewer people to carry out the same work more efficiently.

But there are also possibilities in space planning and workplace management. Just imagine that when wearing Google Glasses, all high performing workplaces are shown in green and low performing ones in red. All utilization data is available in real-time by sensors that know the workplaces’ status. Or when entering a meeting room, the actual and planned utilization is projected.

Scenario 3: Machines that think. 
Many systems already contain sensors that can indicate when there may be a problem. The classic example is the printer or soap dispenser that lets you know when supplies are low and need to be replaced. The Internet of Things—where everything is connected to and communicates with everything else—makes it possible for equipment to not only report a work order itself, but also indicate the solution. The next step will be when work orders can be reported and resolved by machines themselves.

When combining real estate and property management in one software solution, organizations can take advantage of these technologies. An Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) includes systems integration capabilities with geographical information systems (GIS) for visualizing portfolio mappings, Building Information Modeling (BIM) for maximizing the reuse of design and as-built information during the property lifecycle, and enterprise systems like SAP to integrate with core financial processes. All property data is registered only once in a single database and is used by many processes in real estate, maintenance, space, facility, and sustainability management. 

With this type of integration, what do you think will be the next advancement in property management technology?

Nico_van_DijkVan Dijk is a Product Manager at Planon, a global provider of Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) which helps organizations optimize their workplaces. While he has worked at Planon for a decade, he has more than 30 years of experience in IT and managed several large maintenance and real estate projects for Dutch Railways. His primary focus now is developing flexible maintenance management solutions in the Planon platform.