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Adapting multifamily housing for the IoT revolution

Only 35% of millennials own homes. Millennials are also the ones most likely to adopt new IoT technologies. Still, the apartments in which they live aren’t equipped for this new wave of connectivity. As the on-demand and digital economies continue to boom, millennials will continue to demand greater services from their apartment communities, and to meet these demands, building designers need to change the way they approach multifamily housing.

When you tour a new apartment building, you see similar amenities: a gym, bike storage and maybe even a dog washing station, like many buildings here in Portland, Ore., have to attract canine-loving renters. While these are all great, they rarely meet the needs of renters’ other daily activities. Building developers need to look at what a millennial typically relies on, such as on-demand services like Amazon Prime or Seamless, and shared services like Lyft. With applications like these becoming more and more popular, renters will no longer be enticed by a gym as a selling point. They’ll be looking for an Amazon drop-off location or a designated ride-sharing zone.

To continue accommodating this new market of renters, building designs will need to change. Some of the biggest amenities impacted will be traditional mailrooms and parking garages. If, in the future, I’ll be receiving packages from Amazon Drones, does that mean an IoT-enabled dumbwaiter will bring my package to my door? Or, if ride-sharing companies truly are focusing on driverless fleets, how long will it be until my parking garage is filled with autonomous Lyft rides awaiting passengers?

The first adaptations for IoT we’re beginning to see may seem minor, but represent extensive projects for building developers. These come in the form of updated smart-enabled door locks, thermostats and light switches, as well as the installation of sensors. Each of these applications takes a major step in enabling the smart apartment.

Say you’re leaving on a business trip and realize you forgot to lock your door. With a simple command, you can quickly tell your smart lock to secure your apartment — anytime, anywhere. With the addition of sensors, your at-home experience changes dramatically. Lights will turn on and off as you move throughout your apartment, or the radio will turn on as you enter the kitchen. Over time, these sensors learn your habits and cater to your preferences and may even move furniture and appliances based on your mode. This creates some fantastic conveniences, including energy-savings benefits, eliminating electronics being left on when you’re not in the room, or managing a comfortable temperature for your pet while you’re away at work.

It may sound far-fetched, but it wasn’t all that long ago that the idea of controlling your thermostat from your smartphone seemed more like an episode of The Jetsons than reality. As IoT continues to make its way into our lives, multifamily housing developers need to have the infrastructure in place to meet the demand of renters. It’s only a matter of time before your leasing agent tells you the prospective renter was looking for her unit’s smart thermostat, instead of the building’s dog washing station.

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