By Denver Hollingsworth
The past 10 years have seen a boom in apartment living, with more and more people – especially millennials – choosing to live in upscale, luxurious apartment communities. These new residents are driving a demand for communities equipped with state-of-the-art, high-tech amenities that only the 21st century can offer.
At the forefront of these high-tech amenities is Smart Home technology (or the “Internet of Things”), which gives everyday household items the ability to be wirelessly controlled through your smartphone. With the tap of a finger, one can turn off a light, unlock a door or set a thermostat – from anywhere and at any time.
Bringing that Smart Home technology into the apartment space certainly appeals to owners and developers, who see the potential amenity as a way to increase ancillary income (by offering it for an additional monthly charge), increase energy savings and gain a competitive edge in a crowded market.
But even as the demand for ‘Smart Apartments’ increases, very few industry vendors have been able to provide a comprehensive solution to owners.
One of the first obstacles is scalability. Smart Home technology was originally designed for single-family homes. Apartment communities are multi-family homes, with hundreds of residents moving in and out each month as leases expire and renew. Building a solution that can be scaled to operate across any community, regardless of size, is vital. Managing that solution by providing property management with easy access and controls on a community-wide level is vital, as well.
Scaling a Smart Apartment solution also requires a strong network infrastructure to be in place. All Smart products rely on some sort of wireless network infrastructure to operate. Weak, unreliable networks can cause enormous headaches for owners and even compromise the service’s security.
Another obstacle for apartment owners is the overwhelming number of Smart products available. How to choose the best products to use?
Centralization is key to overcoming this obstacle. Owners don’t want residents to have to download multiple different smartphone Apps to control their apartment’s Smart products. Finding a solution that brings all those products together with the ability to be controlled under one easy-to-use smartphone App simplifies the user’s experience and creates a service any resident can use.
At Epproach, our experience in the industry gives us a unique perspective on these obstacles. For more than 10 years, we’ve provided Managed WiFi networks and customizable smartphone Apps to apartment communities. We manage and monitor more than 350 WiFi networks across the country, ensuring fast and reliable connections for residents 24-7, 365 days a year. We’ve provided branded smartphone Apps to over 150 communities as well, each outfitted with a comprehensive back-end management system.
By capitalizing on the lessons we learned as a managed technology provider, we have been able to transition a Smart Apartment service from theory to reality. In May, we partnered with Burns Management to open New York’s first fully-outfitted Smart Apartment complex, Excelsior Park, located in Saratoga Springs. Each unit is equipped with Smart door locks and thermostats, controlled via our smartphone App.
One of the biggest surprises we’ve had at Excelsior Park is the demand from residents for the Smart Apartment solution. An incredible 97 percent of incoming residents opted-in to the new service, thereby providing the community’s owner with a substantial increase in revenue each month.
Although there are challenges to overcome, Smart Apartments are certainly in demand and on the brink of an exploding technology trend. The service is heralding the arrival of a new, high-tech living experience for the apartment resident.
Denver Hollingsworth currently serves as Epproach Communication’s Director of Marketing. After graduating from East Carolina University with a BS in Communication and a concentration in Journalism, Denver relocated to Wilmington, NC, to join the Epproach team. As Epproach has transitioned from a Managed WiFi vendor to a full-scale technology provider for the apartment industry, Denver has been responsible for all aspects of the company’s marketing, from nationwide ad campaigns and industry tradeshows to innovative social media engagement.