It’s become axiomatic that over time, technology gets smaller, more efficient, and more capable of multiple increasingly sophisticated and specialized tasks. Think about your mobile phone. There was a time in the not-so-distant past that its predecessor, the car phone, was tethered to the inside of your vehicle, and its sole task was to make voice telephone calls. Now consider your current smartphone. It’s everything from a multi-option means of communication to a pocket-size encyclopedia, placing pretty much the whole of accumulated human knowledge in the palm of your hand.
Technologies developed for use in the real estate industry have gotten smaller, more efficient, and more multifaceted with each successive generation, too. And now with the coronavirus being a looming presence over nearly every aspect of multifamily life, developing technology may also offer tremendous unexpected benefits to mitigate COVID’s unexpected consequences.
The Intersection of COVID & Tech
When developers—both real estate and software—initially devised technologies as refinements for residential buildings and their occupants, chances are they weren’t anticipating that those innovations would one day be used to combat and control a public health crisis like COVID; emergencies like fires and power interruptions, sure. Keeping residents and their property safe from intruders and other threats, certainly. But a highly infectious, potentially deadly microbe sweeping the globe and bringing the business of everyday life to a crawl, or even a grinding halt? Not so much.
Zachary Kestenbaum is the CEO of BuildingLink, a national provider of multifamily building technology located in New York. “We know that in property management, being prepared for the unexpected and establishing clear and proactive communication is essential, and that’s been especially true during this pandemic. Communities that came into the pandemic with electronic systems already in place and having already switched their administrative processes over to digital and automated methods were able to adapt as rapidly as the facts on the ground did.”
This was especially helpful during the depths of the first wave back in the spring, says Kestenbaum. “Think of a property manager who may be quarantined off-site,” he says. “Instead of flying blind, they can log in, see everything that’s going on at their client buildings, leave instructions for staff, review photos and service notes of a broken fixture—that is really empowering.”