Remote Technology
Makes Waves in the Office Space

Ken Robertson

Cushman & Wakefield’s Che Kit Ho recently posted a fascinating article about Singapore’s Smart Nation program—a high-tech initiative that will employ better technology and smarter apps and data aimed to improve day-to-day city life.  Think self-driving vehicles, assistive technologies and robotics, and even digital public service. Driving this initiative is an incredibly sophisticated data-rich map, which the Wall Street Journal likens to a “superpowered, X-ray version of Google maps”. This resource will capture and analyze property data, including facility management of so-called next generation office buildings to optimize Singapore’s Smart Nation program.

While smart cities and nations are still in their infancy, next generation buildings are already here. Here in the U.S. the industrial sector is ahead in its use of disruptive technologies compared to other sectors. The office sector is in its second inning, already having made significant strides in smart technology solutions ranging from communication to data management. A hot button topic among office innovators is remote property management that focuses on four stages: monitoring, control, optimization, and autonomy.

KBS carefully navigates the technology maze and collaborates with property managers at each location—the experts in the local market—on the most economical and productive technology solutions. It’s 500 West Madison building, an iconic 40-story, 1.46-million square-foot tower located in Chicago’s West Loop is a prime example.

500 West Madison currently employs various remote/mobile technologies to facilitate better management and communication between KBS, the management team, tenants, engineers, janitorial leadership and security supervisors. The most utilized is a mobile work order system that automatically dispatches the work order to the appropriate technician. This allows for much quicker response times and flexibility with the management team.  Additionally, both management and tenants can use mobile and remote technology to register tenants’ guests and manage employee access to the building as well.

While smart technology certainly benefits nearly any building, the economics of remote technology can sometimes be cost prohibitive depending on the operations and budget at a property. Additionally, there are some technologies out there that provide a substantial payback initially, but over time the cost to maintain the system becomes more than the savings that were originally associated with the implementation.

As applications become more economical, more plentiful and more robust, it will only help managers and operational teams be more mobile and productive, which equates to a better tenant experience. Bringing real-time data and actionable items to the hands of the operational team allows for managers and supporting teams to do their jobs better. Additionally, for those teams that are not in a condensed central business district such as Chicago, it will help with the ability to oversee portfolio/multi asset activity without having to be at each property physically on a daily basis.

A portion of this article appeared on Cushman and Wakefield’s corporate blog.


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Ken Robertson oversees a team responsible for all acquisition, disposition, and asset management activities for his region on behalf of KBS REIT, pension fund and sovereign wealth fund clients. His portfolio consists of 32 assets containing 12M SF.