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Better Together: IoT & Big Data

Big Data and the Internet of Things are growing quickly. They will revolutionise how we do business. There is a natural synergy between the two. This makes them more compelling, and executives should make the most of this.

As I write this article, Microsoft Word is scrutinising my writing. This is far progressed from the spelling and grammar checks which we have all used before. Now, Word is scanning every line for clunky comparisons and potential plagiarism. But how? How does software know what constitutes good writing? Welcome to the age of Big Data. For the past decade, Microsoft has been hoarding data and putting it to good use. By feeding this data to machine learning algorithms, Microsoft has been teaching software how to write well.

This example is not specific to Microsoft. Tech behemoths have all been making use of Big Data. This includes Gmail’s “Smart Compose” writing emails for us, or Amazon predicting what we would like to buy. Data is the new commodity for all businesses, and Big Data is the art of refining it.

Luckily, Big Data is not limited to Silicon Valley technology giants. Big Data can benefit any industry, including real estate. There is one caveat however: we need sufficient data.

I have written about this issue before. Real estate companies are limited in adopting data analytics, because of a fundamental lack of data. PropTechs are a good source of data as they digitise traditional business processes. The data from PropTechs may not be accessible. An alternative method of getting data is through the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things (IoT) needs no further introduction. IoT on its own has the potential to revolutionise the property management sector. Besides their direct benefits, IoT devices generate and collect huge volumes of data. This can form a foundation upon which companies can position their Big Data strategies. By providing access to Big Data, IoT adoption becomes more compelling. Property managers can install IoT devices and benefit directly from the device. They can also analyse the data collected by the device to improve their services further.

At Gridizen, we have one guiding North Star. This is to use technology to make renting better for property managers and tenants. This has driven the development and design of our property management solution. We are also proponents of IoT and Big Data and believe it will have a profound impact on the sector. Our market research has found that property managers feel the same way.

We spoke to property management executives from several London local authorities. These authorities manage over 200,000 units. 80% of these executives are familiar or highly familiar with IoT, and 70% use or plan to use IoT in their portfolios. The main areas of interest are reducing maintenance costs and ensuring tenant well-being. Data collection and analysis is another benefit, and we are working to prove this.

Our property management platform integrates with IoT devices. This gives property managers an easy system to monitor devices inside their properties. It also provides access to the data, and we are exploring this in one of our pilots. We have installed leak detectors into a trial portfolio. These detectors notify the property manager and the resident when they find a leak. By spotting the leak immediately, it can be fixed before it causes more damage. This is cheaper and simpler to resolve. There are other benefits to this.

These devices regularly collect temperature and humidity data, and this data is useful. For example, we are using the temperature data to safeguard vulnerable residents. Some tenants are at risk of falling into fuel poverty. By analysing the temperature data, we can automatically spot when a house becomes too cold. The property manager is alerted, and they can speak to the resident and assist if needed. Humidity data can predict the risk of mould or mildew appearing. Again, the property manager is notified, and they can speak to the resident. These are two examples which we are trialling today. However, more complex Big Data techniques are available.

A sophisticated use of Big Data which we are exploring is our predictive analytics tool. This tool will try to predict maintenance issues and warn the property manager before they occur. This is a significant advantage, and it would not be possible without IoT and Big Data.

The combination of IoT and Big Data is more powerful than the sum of its parts. When used in conjunction, there are significant benefits for property managers. This includes decreased costs, new efficiencies, and better service delivery for residents. This technology is still developing, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please email me at bp@gridizen.co.uk.

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