Posts Tagged ‘technology’

The Answer Is Here! Solving Your Property’s Cellular Coverage Issues

April 12, 2013
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Ericsson reported in 2012 that from the third quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter of 2011, mobile data transmission increased by 600 percent. Projections by Cisco seem to indicate that the trend will continue, especially as more video is delivered over the internet.

Indoor cellular coverage is becoming increasingly more important- literally by the day. The Pew Research Center reports that smartphone ownership has increased dramatically over the course of 2011-2012, from 35% to 46% of US adults, totaling a 31% increase in less than one year. Add to this the research conducted by Ericsson reported in 2012, showing a 600% increase in mobile data transmissions between the third quarter of 2009 and fourth quarter of 2011 alone, and it becomes undeniably evident that we are knee deep in the wireless revolution. In fact, 80% of multifamily residents now use their mobile phones as their primary phone, as the land line slowly recedes into the night of technologies past. The disappearance of the corded phone is being solidified by new business models introduced by money hungry cell phone companies; these giants are privy to the fact that data usage far outweighs voice communications, and have incented consumers to do away with land lines, by offering unlimited talk time, while adding (not-so-unlimited) data usage fees.

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The Pew Research Center reports that smartphone ownership increased from 35 percent of U.S. adults in 2011 to more than 46 percent of U.S. adults in 2012, a 31 percent increase in less than one year.

All of these changes, quite rapid changes mind you, are creating unintended consequences for many multifamily building owners and residents alike. As the building industry shifts focus towards energy conservation and more sustainable building practices it has become evident that many of the new building materials are particular resistant to cellular service penetration. As you can imagine, this is posing a huge problem for building owners and residents, especially as people become increasingly reliant on wireless technologies. If residents don’t have cellular service inside their homes, how will they make calls to friends and family? More importantly, how will they call 911?? These questions are not to be ignored.

Over 20 times a week someone from the multifamily industry is contacting Spot On Networks for suggestions on how to deal with this difficult, time-consuming, and potentially very costly issue. At Spot On Networks we have dedicated an enormous amount of time to helping building owners combat their cellular dilemmas, and are happy to say, we have just the solution for you.

The right answer can vary from property to property, dependent on the exact circumstances, budget, and level of convenience necessary for residents. The first solution is the DAS System. DAS stands for Distributed Antenna System, and can be quite costly to implement, coupled with extensive installation. Spot On has configured a solution to not only eliminate poor cellular coverage, but to offset the cost of installing an extravagant DAS System: CellBOOST. CellBOOST typically costs about 1/5 of a DAS System, AND provides property wide WiFi.  CellBOOST boosts cellular signal within a building by strategically placing a number of bidirectional amplifiers within the building, and a donor antennae on the roof which receives the cellular service from outdoors. CellBOOST is non-carrier specific, and is Passpoint 2.0 ready for the up and coming technologies.

The second possible solution would be to use existing WiFi applications. If WiFi is available at a property, residents can use mobile VoIP applications, such as Skype as an alternative phone service to make all of their calls, including calls to emergency services- however the location of said caller is not as visible as otherwise. For texting, there is an app called WhatsApp, which enables texts to be sent via Wi-Fi.

Lastly, the lonely Femtocell. The Femtocell is a small, low-power cellular base station designed for in home use. Although each carrier dubs the device something different, all versions are similar operationally: Plug in an internet cable, and use cell service from a single carrier (hence the “lonely”) in an individual apartment (for a fee, of course).

All of these solutions have their own pros and cons, however, when we take a look at the future, it becomes clear that the more effective solution for the long term would be along the lines of CellBOOST. Within a few months, the WiFi Alliance and the Wireless Broadband Alliance will release a compatible set of protocols and procedures that make WiFi networks complementary to cell carrier networks. ImageThe service, called Hotspot 2.0, uses the WiFi Alliance’s Passpoint 2.0 certification procedure for product certification to promote secure, seamless roaming between cell services and WiFi networks. (Read more here.) The first Hotspot 2.0 solution is expected to be introduced during 2013. Some access points are already Passpoint 2.0 certified, such as those deployed by Spot On Networks, used in CellBOOST. It is imperative to take a look at your property’s cellular coverage issues with an eye on the future- the DAS System will not hold up to the Hotspot 2.0, and neither will Femtocell. With all of these solutions available, cellular coverage issues within a building are soon to be a thing of the past (much like the beloved land line…), however, the important thing is choosing the right solution for your needs, and one that will stand the test of time.

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WiFi and Tablets- Two Tech Tools to Leasing Freedom

March 20, 2013

Advances in technology have certainly improved various areas of our professional lives, and streamlined processes which otherwise require much time and resources. Many companies are making the decision to digitize more than ever before; and this is especially evident in the property management realm.

A recent article published by Units Magazine in the March 2013 issue, outlines how management companies are becoming [even stronger] advocates of community-wide WiFi access, in conjunction with implementingImage wireless devices to aid in the leasing process. In the article, author Paul Bergeron III explains that these technological advances are not simply for the larger REITs or national firms, but work favorably for management companies and communities of all sizes. Bergeron follows two management companies in particular throughout his article, Pillar Properties of Seattle, Washington, and Roscoe Properties of Austin, Texas, and documents their experiences concerning the implementation of property-wide technological systems.

Vice President of Pillar Properties, Billy Pettit, explains why their management company decided to install property-wide WiFi access, and what advantages have come of that decision, “Our agents can connect from anywhere on the property: from the underground parking garage to where they are standing on the roof. With our system, they don’t have to ‘sign in’ every time they walk into another part of the property.” He continues to add, “We’re finding that there is a segment of the prospective resident base that would choose not to live with us if we didn’t deliver this kind of connection speed.” For Pillar Properties, technology has drastically helped them to lease and retain renters; Pettit states, regarding a recent 234-unit opening, “It leased in four months (November to February)– which happens to be traditionally four of the slowest leasing months of the year.” For Pillar, it is undeniable that community-wide WiFi and technology advances at the property on the management end have helped to expand and sustain their base of business.

And it is no different for the folks over at Roscoe Properties, either. Vice President of Administration for Roscoe Properties, Steven Rea, said, “From what I see, we are way ahead of most in the country when it comes to applying mobile strategy to our marketing. I see us as being a digital company in an analog business.” He continues on to add, “The tablet has helped improve the agents’ ability to close leases at a moment’s notice– and when the moment is right.” In addition to the ease and readiness of using tablets to streamline the leasing process, Rea firmly believes that using state of the art tablets and technology vs the standardized paper forms, shows residents that their management company is cutting edge and tech-savvy, innovative and ahead of the curve; “They like that”, he concludes.

It is undeniable that we are amidst a technological revolution, and certainly the implementation and use of such technologies is to the advantage for modern businesses. Property-wide WiFi access is becoming an absolute make or break deal for the majority of today’s renters; and certainly the property management sector is headed down a new and exciting technological path. For Rea, his company’s goal is to be 100% paperless by years’ end; for some, this has become common place. For others, this is only the beginning.

No Noise Is Good Noise

December 26, 2012

As internet usage and the increasing demand for immediacy expand, Internet Service Providers are quickly learning that unresolved glitches and errors in network functionality are creating much ‘noise’ on the social media front, ultimately translating into a bad rap- for property managers and providers alike.

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In an article written by David Daugherty for Broadband Communities magazine’s October 2012 Issue, he explains, “Noise is an indicator of how well a service provider performs day to day. If residents make noise in the front office about poor internet performance, rest assured they are voicing their discontent socially.”  This is especially a concern in the student housing sector, as students so widely rely on the internet and social media for many daily activities, such as schoolwork and entertainment. At student housing properties, this noise does not go long unheard, as social media sites are an optimal vehicle for the residents to ‘echo’ any issues they might be experiencing. Philip Emer, director of technology for Preiss Properties, states that in some cases, it has even proven helpful to use said social media thread to help diagnose and address certain problems networks may be experiencing. It is no secret that any problems with service not rapidly addressed, have a surprisingly efficient way of presenting themselves to not only fellow residents, but also property management, regional and corporate offices, and the service providers. In the long run, inadequate customer service definitely has the potential to create a poor reputation for all parties involved.

Luckily, there is a solution. It has taken some time, trial, and error, but the industry is now realizing that many former business models are in need of a total revamp, such as self-help and troubleshooting interfaces. It is important that any network used at a multi-unit facility, especially student housing, is fully managed and monitored to assure a seamless user experience. Subscribers are eagerly seeking swift, tech-savvy, easily attainable customer support representatives, and more service-oriented assistance, less reliant on the outdated do-it-yourself model. Daugherty says simply, “key stakeholders must understand that maintaining customer expectations is a never-ending task”.

Crossing the Bridge to Cellular, Energy, and Financial Efficiency

October 24, 2012

It is important for Property Owners to think ahead while building and/or renovating a property for any number of reasons, but as the green movement and the WiFi revolution advance simultaneously there become more obstacles to overcome, and with that, more solutions.
Richard J. Sherwin, CEO of Spot On Networks states, “The typical apartment owner needs to figure out how to solve the cellular wireless problem”, in an article written for Multifamilybiz.com on October 23, 2012. Sherwin continues, adding, “The signal does not penetrate buildings with energy preserving glass.”, which proves a huge hurdle for Property Owners, as they strive for energy efficiency and top notch technology to suit their tenants.


It is no secret that cell service is huge must for today’s renters; Mike Smith, director or Building Technology Services Group for Forest City Enterprises, knows this firsthand. “As residents tour our properties, they’re looking to see if their phones will work,” says Smith in that same article. Smith continues, “We have projects in Washington D.C. and we go out beforehand and have great cell coverage. Then you put the building up and it’s sustainable and LEED-certified and it kills the reception.”
There are a few solutions available today to combat this issue; however, most are extremely expensive and simply out of reach for many Property Owners. One cost efficient solution is to implement a property-wide wireless internet network, which also offers cell phone data transmission. This affords residents seamless cellular connectivity, even if a building is posing as gate-keeper for cell service. Not only that, but your residents will be thrilled with the adjunct of property wide wireless internet.

Millenial Maddness

September 12, 2012

Satiating Gen Y’s technological tastes

 

 

It’s amazing how time changes things—what was once a commodious place to unwind and slow down from a busy day is morphing into a space efficient, Wi-Fi enabled hang-out, with unparalleled connectivity speeds to the outside world.

 

The fact is that today’s “Gen Y” renters are changing the game for today’s residential multifamily and student housing property owners. In an article written by Jennifer Chan of Zillow’s RentJuice on August 2, 2012, she states that the new wave of renters, many of which are college students or recent graduates, have a seemingly updated list of important factors when searching for a rental property—among these are energy efficiency and lax pet policy, but even more importantly, Wi-Fi connectivity.

There is no denying the technological transformation across the board, and that certainly includes the housing sector. Today’s renters are changing not only the way residential multifamily property owners market their properties, but how they outfit them, as well. Sites such as Craig’s List have made online advertising of available properties a must, and are slowly eliminating the need for more outdated ways of searching, such as the newspaper (I know, I didn’t realize this was still in print, either!). Social media is a force to be reckoned with, sweeping the rental market by storm. In an article by Sarah Gabot of RentJuice from February 8, 2012, she states that, “This generation, also known as ‘Millennials,’ consists of 70 million people born between 1982 and the early 2000’s.” She is referring to Generation Y, as I mentioned earlier, and I think it’s fair to say they, well, we, are a bunch of social media idealists. Many property managers are looking to reach this group on their terms, which of course requires having a solid social media presence. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all proving instrumental in transforming vacancies into occupancies.

But it doesn’t stop there; filling a space is only half the battle- retaining the renter is arguably more important. The market is taking a turn in desired amenities; in an article published in Good Magazine on February 7, 2012, Nona Willis Aronowitz writes, “Six in 10 people said they would sacrifice a bigger house to live in a neighborhood that featured a mix of houses, stores, and businesses within an easy walk.” While this statistic exemplifies one of the movements in the wants and needs of a modern renter, a property manager might be hard pressed in certain situations to make this a possibility—which makes including any accessible amenities even more important.

WiFi internet has become the most requested amenity anwhere—restaurants, gyms, offices, almost any and everywhere is WiFi enabled, even town greens are going wireless– and the residential multifamily industry is no exception! Trying to rent an apartment with no internet access would probably be harder than renting one without running water this day in age. In another article posted by RentJuice on February 7, 2012, Jennifer Chan includes a few enlightening facts from a J Turner Research study, sharing that 89% of students are doing their schoolwork online. She continues on, adding that from a survey of 10,000 college students, 64% would consider relocating due to low satisfaction concerning internet speed; 87% of those students are using the internet to maintain their social network accounts, while 56% are online for between 3 and 5 hours a day. When you consider these numbers it helps to put the importance of internet in perspective. Students, who are doing the majority of their work online, do not want to be restricted to their bedroom or dorm to do their work– they want WiFi connectivity throughout their entire property, and they want it seamless.

It’s incredible, the changes our society has undergone over the last thirty, even 10 years! Who would have thought we would be taking our tablets out for a walk in the Wi-Fi enabled park, along with our dogs? The internet certainly is a necessity, and it is undisputable that a property with high speed Wi-Fi access would rent faster than the same property without that amenity available, especially to today’s ever changing market of tech-savvy renters. Just some food for thought.

 

 

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2012/08/08/apartment-trends-what-renters-want/

http://www.zillow.com/blog/2012-07-13/how-to-reach-generation-y-renters/

http://www.zillow.com/blog/2012-08-02/apartment-trends-what-renters-want/

http://blog.rentjuice.com/marketing-rentals-towards-students-connectivity-matters/

http://www.good.is/post/most-americans-want-a-walkable-neighborhood-not-a-big-house/

http://blog.rentjuice.com/how-to-market-rentals-to-generation-y-our-4-week-social-media-regimen/

http://blog.rentjuice.com/how-to-attract-generation-y-renters/

IMAGE- http://www.dumblittleman.com/2008/12/21-excellent-web-apps-for-college.html