Mantis Q

Drones have been increasingly popular in recent years, disrupting various industries with their aerial perspective. Until recently, the more professional models were prohibitively expensive, unless being purchased for a specific business venture. This summer saw the launch of a new drone that’s designed for the masses—Yuneec’s Mantis Q, a small, relatively powerful drone with a semi-reasonable price tag (about $500). Weighting a little over one pound, its in the sweet spot between budget drones like DJI’s Spark, and higher-end models like DJI’s Mavic Air. It holds in its 9 x 7 x 2 inch body (expanded) some of the features usually reserved for more sophisticated drones: 4K video recording, voice control, face detection, speed of up to 44 miles per hour and a lengthy 33-minute flight time. What’s more, it’s also equipped with infrared- and sonar-based stabilization and foldable arms that make it easy to shove in a backpack. The little drone has three automatic flight modes: journey mode—which flies on a straight, designated path; point of interest—which circles an assigned object; and return home—which automatically returns the drone near its takeoff area. In addition, sonar and infrared detection allow the drone to avoid obstacles and achieve stabilized flights indoors, without the aid of GPS. The face detection feature is said to recognize faces from up to 13 feet away and can take photos either through gesture control mode if the user waves their hand or through a voice command such as “Take a selfie.” Voice control can also be used to wake up the drone. We’re not sure how close one needs to be in order for the drone to hear the commands and how much environmental noise affects it. The range for video transmission is between 0.5 miles (800 meters) and 1...

Nissan Energy Solar

Some believe that solar panels require direct sunlight to work. Those same people may believe that the UK is the world’s most unsuitable place to harness the sun’s energy. Well, they are wrong. More than 880,000 people in the UK use solar panels and Nissan has taken note.   In mid-March, the car manufacturer joined the ranks of Mercedes-Benz, Renault and Tesla and launched their take on a complete home energy management system, which they named Nissan Energy Solar. For now, only UK residents can try it in their households.   This idea of utilizing the most valuable part of its electric vehicles—the batteries—after they’ve lived their first life in one of the vehicles (or have been declared terminated post some accident) is new and golden. Nissan is making a bullish push into the energy storage industry, and it does it on three fronts at once: using homes as powerhouses; off-grid power storage; electricity generator park.   The storage system Nissan proposes, the xStorage, is the result of a collaboration with Eaton Industries. The xStorage can have three power options: 3.6 kilowatts, 4.6 kW or 6kW. There are two battery options, 4.2 kW or 6kW. The average unit weighs nearly 300 pounds (135 kg).   Benefits of the system include:  Increased independence from the national grid and electricity providers  Cost reduction on your electricity bill of up to 66 percent  The ability to generate, store and manage energy for use overnight (despite cloudy weather) and charge Nissan electric vehicles.  A six-panel system costs about $5,383 including installation. Full solar and storage systems start at roughly $10,589. This solar plus electric vehicles is clearly a match made in heaven. According to CleanTechnica, about 32 percent of the electric driving respondents have also installed rooftop solar power. In addition, this type...

Reinventing Aluminum

Two of the world’s aluminum giants—Alcoa Corp. and Rio Tinto Aluminum—have announced a revolutionary process to make green aluminum, and we’re not talking colors here. Instead, the joint venture has come up with a new smelting method that produces oxygen instead of direct greenhouse gas emissions.  The project is called Elysis—a reference to the process at the center of aluminum smelting, the electrolysis of alumina. It will be based in Montreal and plans to make this revolutionary method commercially available by 2024. Aside from the environment friendly feature,, the technology is also expected to reduce costs by roughly 15 percent. Apple has partnered with the two companies, and the Governments of Canada and Quebec, to collectively invest a combined $147 million to future research and development. The research and development phase of the technology has spanned decades. Apple joined in 2015 when three of its engineers—Brian Lynch, Jim Yurko and Katie Sassaman—went in search of a cleaner, better way of mass producing aluminum. Aluminum, also known as solid electricity, has been mass produced the same way since 1886, having Alcoa’s founder, Charles Hall as a trail blazer. A strong electrical current is applied to alumina (refined from bauxite) which removes oxygen. In Hall’s experiments as in today’s largest smelters, there is a carbon material that burns during the process, producing greenhouse gases. The new method replaces that carbon with an advanced conducive material. Instead of carbon dioxide, it releases oxygen. This major discovery promised a huge environmental impact. To speed things up, Alcoa realized they needed a partner. Here Apple played a big role: David Tom, Maziar Brumand and Sean Camacho of Apple’s business development department introduced Rio Tinto to Alcoa. What follows that meeting is history unfolding. The future looks greener thanks to...

Artificial Intelligence Gets Real

Artificial intelligence and machine learning for multifamily property owners and managers has arrived. Yardi recently launched Yardi Elevate for multifamily, a suite of asset management solutions that dives deep into operational data and goes beyond presentation with predictive insights and prescriptive recommendations designed to elevate portfolio performance by lowering costs, balancing risk and increasing revenue. Seattle-based Pillar Properties is an early adopter already discovering the benefits. Pillar is an award-winning developer, owner and manager of apartment residences in the Puget Sound area, and a developer of senior living communities through sister company Merrill Gardens. The company has always believed in taking advantage of the best available technology to improve business processes. Before Pillar started using Asset Intelligence, part of Yardi Elevate, relying on various tools including spreadsheets to aggregate and analyze portfolio data was a challenge. “With Asset Intelligence, we finally have a tool that incorporates all of our property and leasing data with historical traffic and RENTmaximizer pricing data. The system marries all that information together beautifully,” says Diana Norbury, senior vice president of multifamily operations at Pillar. The Lowdown on Elevate Comprised of Asset Intelligence, RENTmaximizer, Forecast Manager and Yardi Matrix and designed specifically for CEOs, COOs, asset managers and other operational executives, Yardi Elevate delivers unprecedented portfolio visibility and helps companies maintain data integrity to make better decisions faster to elevate asset performance. And, Yardi Elevate keeps getting smarter. All of the products within the suite work together and also leverage data from other Yardi solutions including Yardi Voyager for unit and lease-level data and the RENTCafé suite, which enables just-in-time marketing recommendations. With broader, cleaner and more accessible data sets, the system learns over time while connecting information and enabling decision-making across disciplines. Driving Performance with Better Data Asset Intelligence includes tools that help Pillar’s executives benchmark operating income and expenses against the competition, as well as reduce costs with prescriptive recommendations and just-in-time marketing. Billy Pettit, president of Pillar Properties, said that being able to see detailed information and metrics for the company’s entire portfolio in one location is exactly what he had been waiting for. The one-click filters in Asset Intelligence give Pettit the information he wants faster, and he doesn’t need to run as many reports as he used to. Asset Intelligence also pulls in and factors revenue management and rental pricing data from RENTmaximizer so Pillar can quickly review pricing and leasing and audit issues to identify trends and make better decisions for its properties. For marketing needs, Norbury can view leasing activity and goals for each property on the Asset Intelligence dashboard to guide her on the best course of action. Getting Ahead with Analytics With predictive performance insights across its portfolio and machine learning recommended actions, Pillar can be confident about unit pricing that increases revenue without sacrificing occupancy. “Asset Intelligence pulls in all the data that we used to hunt for manually between systems. Now all the portfolio and property performance information is in one place and I quickly get a clear picture. The Yardi Elevate suite enables us to make decisions much faster, speak on issues with confidence and identify problems with more ease,” says Norbury. Access to deep market data from Yardi Matrix through Asset Intelligence, including comps along with current and imminent market conditions, has sharpened Pillar’s competitive edge. Pillar recently used benchmarking data from Asset Intelligence to paint a picture, in Norbury’s words, for one of its investors regarding suggested rent drops to gain occupancy growth. “We were still ahead of the market and Elevate provided the data to demonstrate trends over the last two years along with what was presently occurring,” explains Norbury. Not only is Pillar’s executive team aided by Yardi Elevate to ask the right questions and gain insights to drive decision-making, but on-site team members also get valuable information that helps improve community performance. Tools for Moving Forward The marketing...

20 Years of Tech

Celebrating 20 years, Yardi Canada has come a long way. As a leading innovator that delivers technology solutions to move the Canadian real estate industry forward, Yardi Canada focuses on helping clients thrive through every change. We caught up with a few of Yardi Canada’s leaders to learn more about the company’s evolution. From DOS to Windows to Internet based web apps to mobile apps and now on to artificial intelligence, Yardi has always been there with a solution for its clients. Here are a few technological highlights from the past two decades. A Unique Market Mobility and the cloud might reign now, but it all began with DOS. Introducing real estate companies to new technologies to improve business operations has never been an easy task. As Canadians, we tend to be a little more conservative when it comes to change. However, Peter Altobelli, general manager and vice president of sales for Yardi Canada, found it was easy to bring Yardi’s three DOS products to market: Yardi Basic, Yardi Deluxe and Yardi Premier. “DOS was a great product to implement since it was reliable, simple and easy to use. It was a technology that property managers understood. Plus, it had all these great shortcuts, because we didn’t have a mouse back then,” recalls Altobelli. Altobelli set up Yardi’s first office in Canada in 1998, which started with four people and now has grown to a staff of over 200. Today’s multitasking generation, accustomed to multiple windows and screens, would feel restricted with a DOS platform. But back then, users could accomplish single functions at a time quickly and efficiently. It was exactly what the industry needed as a catalyst towards more technology and innovation. Moving to the Internet At every innovative milestone, Yardi Canada...

Drones that Map

Last year was the most significant year for commercial drones yet. More than 66,000 remote drone pilots were certified by the FAA in 2017 in the U.S. alone. Drones made their way into a diverse range of industries, from archaeology to construction, insurance to agriculture. Of course, millions of dollars have been invested in drone services, but Goldman Sachs estimates that the commercial drone market industry will surpass $20 billion by 2021. One of the hottest drone products of the moment is the mapping service. DroneDeploy, a company founded in 2013, recently launched Live Map—the world’s first software able to generate drone maps in real time. Usually, creating a drone map takes time—first you have to plan a mission, fly, capture imagery, go back to your desk to upload the data on your computer (it must be a suitably powerful computer) and then play the waiting game. For hours. With the new service, those hours of waiting disappear—even without a laptop or even internet connection, you get the data you need immediately. The steps are simple: plan a flight, take off, look at maps render on-screen during flight. That’s it. Hundreds of acres of land can easily become consumable maps, shareable to collaborators via instant cloud-syncing across devices. Thus, if more in-depth analysis is required, users can also create higher-resolution 2D maps from the same flight data. Live Map is the next-generation product of Fieldscanner, but it’s five times faster, which makes it capable of keeping up with the real-time challenges of the real world. “Hours of waiting for crop imagery are over. We can capture real-time data in seconds without an internet connection, and begin making smarter crop management decisions before the drone hits the ground,” says Justin Metz, technology integration specialist at...

Autumn Crop

At Apple’s September product unveiling, three new iPhones grabbed the spotlight. Tim Cook’s presentation also showcased the new Apple Watch, called “an intelligent guardian for your health.” To introduce the new Apple Watch to the world, Apple turned to American Heart Association president Ivor Benjamin, who applauded the company’s innovation and commitment towards health issues. The most prominent new feature of the Apple Watch Series 4 is that the device is now able to detect a low heart rate and atrial fibrillation. This advances its health detection capabilities far beyond simple exercise tracking. The watch is now able to measure the electrical activity of the heart, enabling the user to take an electrocardiogram simply by putting their finger on the digital crown. The feature, as well as irregular heart rate detection, has received FDA clearance. There is also a next-generation accelerometer gyroscope, which enables the device to detect a fall by the wearer —when a fall is detected, the watch will send an alert prompting you to call emergency services. If the device senses that the user is immobile for more than one minute, the call will be started automatically. This may be ideal for those aging but hip grandparents who don’t want to admit a life alert device might be a wise wearable. Design-wise, Apple Watch Series 4 flaunts a 30 percent larger display—which gives enough real estate for up to eight shortcuts for apps—as well as a thinner body, which make it less bulky on small wrists. The speakers are 50 percent louder and its new S4 chip will have the watch perform twice as fast. The battery life should last for 18 hours and outdoor workout time has increased to six hours. Pricing starts at $399 for the GPS model and...

Forbes Cloud 100

Yardi has been named for the third time to the Forbes Cloud 100, the definitive list of the top 100 private cloud companies in the world. Yardi was a member of the inaugural Cloud 100 in 2016, moved up to the #26 spot on the list in 2017, and came in at #22 this year. The timing of this significant honor was special as Yardi executives and staff are welcomed the largest group of clients ever to the biannual Yardi Advanced Solutions Conference in San Diego this week. In Wednesday’s welcoming remarks, president and founder Anant Yardi noted that about 98 percent of clients now make sure of the company’s secure and reliable cloud. “We’re honored that Forbes recognized us again for our efforts to provide industry-leading cloud solutions,” said Jay Shobe, vice president of cloud services at Yardi. “To continue to rank high on this list is a testament to the efforts of our employees and invaluable support and feedback from our clients.” Published by Forbes in collaboration with Bessemer Venture Partners, the list will appear in the Sept. issue of Forbes magazine and is available at forbes.com/cloud100. The evaluation process involved four factors: market leadership (35%), estimated valuation (30%), operating metrics (20%), people & culture (15%), which the judge panel then weighed to select, score and rank the winners. With that data, the Forbes Cloud 100 judge panel, which includes major public cloud company CEOs, was then responsible for selecting and ranking the top 100 companies worldwide. “For the past three years, the Cloud 100 list has identified the top cloud companies that are reshaping their respective industries,” said Alex Konrad, Forbes editor of The Cloud 100. “I am consistently impressed by the caliber of companies honored on the Cloud 100 list. It is an exciting time to a be a cloud company and founder.” “All of the twenty-five cloud IPOs and major cloud acquisitions over the past three years have been prior members of the Cloud 100, and we absolutely expect that the dominant public cloud companies of the future will also come from this list,” said Byron Deeter, a top cloud investor and partner at Bessemer Venture Partners. “The 2018 Cloud 100 represents well over $135B in private shareholder value–an astonishing figure that reminds us yet again of the power of the cloud. The way we do business will be dramatically different as a result of these companies and I am honored to celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of the founders and teams behind each company on the 2018 Cloud 100.” “The business opportunity for cloud companies is tremendous today as capital investment, customer demand and rate of adoption continues to grow,” said Matt Garratt, managing partner, Salesforce Ventures. “We’re excited to see the potential of these companies and look forward to seeing what innovative technology they deliver around the world.” Yardi was among the companies celebrated last night in San Francisco at the Cloud 100 Celebration, an exclusive event hosted by Bessemer Venture Partners, Forbes and Salesforce Ventures. The celebration is attended by the CEOs of the public cloud companies and the CEOs named to the Cloud 100 and the 20 Rising Stars...

Asset Tech Upgrades

Until fairly recently, enterprise software platforms for real estate largely focused on accounting, finance and other back office operations. The advanced programming languages, mobile reach and internet capacity that enable automated workflows and remote access available for the back office hadn’t reached the front office. Things are different today—for the better. In an article originally published in Journal of Property Management, Todd Huebsch, Yardi vice president of commercial sales, explains why.   New software applications squarely target the front office, lending new dynamism to leasing, customer services, facility management, development and other operations. What does the evolution of technology dedicated to the front office mean in practical terms? For one, it means that property management technology has reached the point where remote access is both affordable and effective for managers involved in leasing, construction and facilities management. It also means leasing and asset management can work a deal together with a previously unattainable degree of collaboration. Development vice presidents can evaluate risk with instant access to project status, instead of waiting for a weekly report. They can leverage ERP data such as lease comps, revenue trends, contractor and job analysis, to make better decisions. Consider, for example, construction managers working to correct a problem with a building’s foundation. In an earlier era, they would call or email the back office, or even leave the site altogether to calculate the change order and negotiate the amount and cost code. Today, using apps designed specifically for their role, construction managers can enter the work order with just a few taps on a mobile device. The change order automatically flows to the back office and is recorded in the core property management and accounting platform. The adjustment is fully visible to all parties and the construction manager...

Flexible Workspace

Editor’s note: The following interview originally appeared in GCUC UK and is reprinted with permission here. Tony Freeth has seen the evolution of the office space industry firsthand. Co-founder of Phoenix Broadband and creator of Medusa, a product that handles premises infrastructure, Freeth has played a pioneering role in bandwidth management and workspace wifi solutions since the late-1990s. Recently, Medusa was acquired by global real estate technology company Yardi. Freeth, who was at the first Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) in Austin, Texas in 2012, has now taken the role of Director of Coworking Europe at Yardi. With two decades of experience, Freeth provides a unique and valuable perspective on the now-booming workspace industry. We spoke with Freeth about the evolution of the industry, Yardi’s acquisition of Medusa, and how commercial real estate has now adopted coworking as an asset class. Here are the highlights of our conversation. What’s your coworking story, Tony? How were you introduced to what was then a small movement? Tony Freeth: In 2010, I was talking to someone at Steelcase who told me I needed to go to Coworking Europe. While there, I came across a bunch of people who had a very different idea of how people could work in a space, based on collaboration and community. We tried to sell that message to our conventional customers for many years, and for a long time their response was, “No that’s not what we do. Everyone wants a door.” We told them when you put millennials behind doors, it’s like depriving a plant of light—they just wilt. I met [GCUC producer] Liz Elam at Coworking Europe and she invited me to Austin for GCUC. It became clear that U.S. coworking seemed extremely vibrant and extremely well-organized. I imagine your...

People Flow

Developers, property owners and architects have a new tool available for building design. The Virtual Building Service, an innovation from Budapest-headquartered EIT Digital, creates digital simulations to test and optimize people flow and building occupancy. IBM and KONE, a company that specializes in the elevator and escalator industry, have partnered in the initiative, with KONE acting as business owner and activity leader. The service is designed to make it easier for real estate professionals to design buildings that are financially attractive, while maximizing shared spaces. Simulation data will be collected in real time by sensors, while new facilities will have to rely on input from previous studies. “Our simulation capability is much improved. We can, for example, simulate people flow in the lobby of an office building; understand how that might look along with the waiting times for the elevators,” said KONE’s head of People Flow Optimization Juha-Matti Kuusinen. “Not only can we calculate a building’s efficiency, but we can also benchmark it with similar buildings and conclude if the building is performing very well or if there’s room for improvement.” KONE had focused its efforts on vertical efficiency, such as people moving from floor to floor. In tall buildings, elevator group control systems select which elevator to dispatch to each request, aiming to minimize waiting times. These systems could be upgraded by forecasting future traffic based on historical statistics. “We realized, however, that if you don’t design end-to-end people flow, including the horizontal people flow, it is difficult for our customers to judge whether their buildings are really efficient. This is why we started to explore the optimization of the total people flow, combining both the horizontal and vertical dimensions,” added Kuusinen. Tarmo Kekki, executive partner at IBM, said the simulator is a...

CA’s New Solar Panel Law ...

Not long ago, California became the first state to require that all new homes have solar power: single-family and multifamily properties alike. The rule is part of the state’s commitment to cut greenhouse gases. It will go into effect in the next two years.  Under the new law, developers must either equip individual homes with solar panels or build a shared solar-power system serving a group of homes. The rooftop panels can either be owned or made available for lease on a monthly basis. But are they covered by an insurance policy?  Insuring the Vision Here’s what the folks at the Insurance Information Institute have put together:  Most solar panels are considered a permanent attachment (like a deck) and thus are protected by a homeowner’s policy. However, check with your insurance company to know for sure. Another thing  to consider is the coverage amount—your insurance policy’s coverage limit is the maximum amount that will be paid toward covering a loss. Ensure you have the adequate coverage limit, because despite the significant contraction in the cost of solar panels, it’s still not negligible.   Your premiums will suffer. Some carriers allow solar energy systems owners to purchase an optional endorsement just for the panels. Others include the coverage in the dwelling coverage (coverage A) if the panels are on the roof of the home or under coverage B if the panels are on the ground or on the roof of a detached structure.   Leasing the solar panels can make a big difference in your policy: if you install a system with a lease or power purchase agreement (PPA), you are not the owner of the system. In this case, the company with whom you have the agreement owns the panels and is responsible for their maintenance....

Alexa and the Elderly...

When conversation shifts to home automation, references to Millennials are rarely far behind. While it’s true that the emerging generation of homeowners loves their tech toys, they aren’t the only ones harnessing the power of smart home technology. Senior living providers have joined other industry leaders in the pursuit of more automated options for residents as well. Amazon + Senior Housing Amazon has made huge strides as a provider of integrated automation and voice control for major home builders across the industry, including prominent developers Lennar and Shea Homes. Communities created by these companies are part of a growing “Wi-Fi Certified” trend, offering housing with built-in automation and voice control. For seniors, that means controlling features within their homes and interacting with the outside world is simplified, thanks to voice commands. Enabling the integration is Amazon’s Alexa, a cloud-based virtual assistant, which appears in various forms throughout the homes. She’s most often takes shape as a sleek, tabletop pillar in the Echo line of products. Through Alexa, seniors can set reminders for appointments and medications; control music and home ambiance; check weather; get news and sports updates; and order just about anything fathomable on Amazon.com. Amazon Echo Dot speakers permit seniors to access Alexa anywhere in their home. They also serve as Bluetooth speakers that are capable of connecting to a myriad of seniors’ personal devices. With so many ways to integrate, Amazon’s variations on Wi-Fi centric homes are quickly becoming the new standard for incoming baby boomers, but the tech toys come with a few caveats. Too Smart for Its Own Good? As technology develops at a rapid pace, home builders are left wondering just how quickly their newly installed gadgets will become obsolete. Alternatively, what are the costs associated with staying up-to-date...

Samsung Unpacked

Samsung’s annual product conference gathered a big crowd in Brooklyn last week. The main focus was on productivity and performance upgrades across Samsung’s entire collection of devices. The most anticipated gadget was the company’s phablet, Galaxy Note 9. On the exterior, not much has changed, but under the hood some upgrades took place, including a bigger battery, an even bigger screen (6.4-inch) and a more potent S Pen. Additionally, Samsung’s DeX software is now built into the phone, which means that the phone now can be plugged into any external display for a desktop-like experience. Available in two configurations—a 128GB/6GB RAM model for $999, and a 512GB/8GB RAM for $1,250, the phone will start shipping later this month. Design wise, the rear fingerprint sensor was relocated below the camera, but everything else is still in its place: water resistance is still a feature, as is fast wireless charging, expandable microSD storage, the Bixby button and the mighty headphone jack. What’s most baffling about this device is the storage capacity—add a 512GB microSD card into a 512GB Note 9 and you’ll have 1TB of storage and that is pretty insane. Galaxy Note 9 will run on Android 8.1 Oreo without any changes from the user experience on previous phone versions. The battery, a hot topic in Samsung’s world, has been increased to 4,000mAh, the largest so far in a Note. To keep their customers’ cool related to battery safety, Samsung has validated and certified its new batch of batteries through outside companies as well as in house. The heart of the Note 9 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with new optimization to the GPU. A pretty cool feature we still don’t know too much about is the Water Carbon Cooling system, but it sounds...

Making Life Easier

It’s 6:30pm. Your senior resident’s daughter has made it through traffic just in time to pick up her son from band practice. Now she’s got to rush to the pharmacy to pick up your resident’s refill and make it to the community in time for her father’s evening application. But before she does that, she has to visit your leasing office to pay the rent and remind the agent about the leak in the bathroom–all before the office closes at 7pm. While she is driving, exhausted and stressed, she gets a call from her friend. Her friend’s mother is in a comparable senior living community that offers rent payments, maintenance requests, and an ability to communicate with clinicians through an easy-to-use online portal. That portal can be accessed on any mobile device. Your resident’s daughter is suddenly having second thoughts about your property—and rightly so! Our busy lives benefit from the modern conveniences of digital and mobile services. Senior care is no different. The RENTCafé Senior Living portal helps users achieve greater work-life balance through improved daily efficiencies and conveniences. For Families RENTCafé Senior Living offers time savings and ease-of-use for family members. Users can manage payments, make maintenance service requests. and even track progress on maintenance orders. They will know when the issue is resolved and their loved one is living comfortably again without making a dozen calls to your office. RENTCafé Senior Living connects seamlessly with CRM, EHR and mobile tools. Families can effortlessly request updates from the community regarding prescription refills, review health information and communicate with care providers on their loved one’s progress. With these tools, site visits are for time with loved ones, not resolving issues and running errands. Through the online portal, family members can even check out...

Yardi Elevate

A group of real estate industry thought leaders, including Yardi’s Brian Sutherland, exchanged thoughts on emerging real estate technologies in a recent Realcomm-hosted webinar. With the “explosion” of solutions to choose from, “it’s challenging to know which one will help operationally, increase the bottom line, reduce costs and serve customers,” said Sutherland, industry principal for Yardi Elevate. Some of them, such as coworking, didn’t exist only a few years ago. While buyers benefit from a number of innovative options, he noted, rapid obsolescence and change management challenges present potential pitfalls. Sutherland also addressed technology innovations that support facility and construction managers, leasing agents and property-level users in new and meaningful ways. “They want a solution that’s designed for them and which connects them to the central data system with mobile applications and dashboards. That’s why we created a connected ecosystem for the operations side [with Yardi Elevate},” he said. Expanding data access to the back office is tied to the larger issue of data management, Sutherland said. “The challenge is dissecting data and making it actionable for informed decisions. That’s the importance of role-based dashboards that remove guesswork for building operations people who need to control costs and work more efficiently.” Other participants in the webinar included Chip Pierpont, director of innovation, performance and technologies for the U.S. General Services Administration, which manages property for the federal government. GSA sees energy consumption analytics as a “pristine opportunity to engage in a new way to operate” to meet federal government energy reduction targets,” Pierpont said. GSA continues to seek ways to use energy analytics, retrofit equipment and incorporate additional sensing capabilities in its buildings. Pierpont also emphasized the importance of managing data, not just collecting it: “No matter how much data you have, if it’s...

Electronic Payments

It’s 2018 and there are still plenty of multifamily properties that are missing out on the benefits of electronic payments. If you’re still not sure if electronic payment processing is worth it, below are five great reasons to make the switch. Show prospects that you are not a dinosaur. Today’s renters expect electronic payments. A study by the NMHC/Kingsley reports that 92 percent of respondents consider online rent payment an important resident portal feature. If you’re operating under an outdated paper system, you’re making your neighboring competitors more appealing. Vendors will dig your modern ways, too. Vendors want to know that they will receive prompt payments for their services. Electronic payments eliminate the “check is in the mail” delay which can improve your relationship and promote faster service in the future. Make it easier for residents to give you their money. Electronic payments offer convenience, versatility and instant confirmation. That’s why 78% of renters prefer to pay electronically! You can also eliminate lost check disputes. All electronic payment transaction can be easily tracked. Automatic record keeping benefits you and your residents. Receive more payments on time. When residents can pay by ACH, debit or credit card, text, and WIPS they are more likely to pay on time. (Who wants to pay late fees?) Yardi client Roscoe Properties’ Mariana Estrada, Vice President, Operations explains, “We collected 95 percent of payments due — on time and electronically — thanks to Yardi Payment Processing. In the first week of the month we collected $9 million across our portfolio. That’s money in the bank without staff intervention.” Make bookkeeping easier. Automated payments save time and improve accuracy. Each transaction is organized and automatically entered into Yardi Voyager. There are no bank runs or batches to mail to corporate....

Easier Leasing

Pinnacle Property Management Services (Pinnacle) manages a vast portfolio of residential, commercial and mixed use properties. Many of these are affordable housing units, developed under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. The many types of residential properties under management, including senior, student, affordable, luxury, market rate, etc., can present a challenge for leasing agents who must be well-versed in each vertical of the rental property industry. Affordable housing can be particularly challenging given the complexity of requirements necessary to comply with program requirements. Of course, the most basic of those requirements is that residents must qualify based on criteria such as income and assets. Documenting resident eligibility is the most important piece of a successful affordable housing program. Moving from paper-based applicant and resident files to electronic records is one of the ways the affordable housing industry is evolving to work more efficiently. Pinnacle is part of that evolution as it implements RENTCafé Affordable Housing. With RENTCafé Affordable Housing, Pinnacle saves time for leasing agents and ensures compliance with Low Income Housing Tax Credit program requirements. Those benefits result directly from changing to online housing applications and certification processes. “RENTCafé Affordable Housing is such an amazing system when it’s used properly. If you haven’t used it, you’ll be surprised at how much time you can save and efficiency you can gain with it,” says Nick Strzelec. One of the biggest challenges of reviewing affordable housing applications is missing information. Using traditional paper forms, applicants can skip over questions they don’t have immediate answers to and forget to go back and fill in the missing data. Reviewers are stuck with an incomplete application and must reach out to the applicant to correct the omission. RENTCafé eliminates incomplete applications, which saves time for Pinnacle staff. “RENTCafé...

Realcomm Recap

Yardi’s Rob Teel, senior vice president of global solutions, and Todd Huebsch, vice president of commercial sales, discussed key trends in the commercial real estate industry in interviews at the recent Realcomm and IBCon conferences. Excerpts follow. Q: What are some key shifts that you’re seeing in commercial property management? Huebsch: From an enterprise platform standpoint, software products historically have been developed for people in back office operations such as accounting and property management. Now we see the emphasis rapidly changing to the front office—people in the field who are managing leases, construction projects and facilities. Enabling that move is a series of mobile apps and role-based tools that simplify tasks and help front office people do their jobs faster, easier and more efficiently while seamlessly connecting to the back office. These new capabilities speak to reducing risk and increasing asset value Q: What is Yardi’s primary focus area at present? Teel: There are three. One is Yardi Elevate, which, in contrast to the traditional chief financial officer focus of property management software, is tailored to a chief operating officer whose direct reports might include the leaders of leasing, asset management, construction and facilities management. Another key focus is energy management, which addresses the needs of COOs and chief engineers who are looking to reduce consumption and expenditures and boost sustainability. Yardi has made five acquisitions in three years in this area and it’s one of our leading long-term strategic visions. And coworking has gone through a revolution in the last two years. Today about 1% of commercial offices in the U.S. are tagged as coworking space but we think it might go to 5-10% in the U.S. and globally within a few years. We made two acquisitions that brought us the Yardi KUBE...

Software is Eating the World

(Ed. note: The following article from Yardi Energy vice president Matt Eggers originally appeared in the Realcomm Advisory and can be read here. Reprinted with permission.) Software is undoubtedly changing the way that we interact with the world around us. We are no longer restricted to pizza and Chinese food delivery; DoorDash and others bring a diverse range of fine dining to our doorsteps. Kroger ClickList offers curbside grocery pickup, allowing us to bypass lines at the grocery store. Waze gathers traffic history to let us know how to skip the traffic jams. Yet commercial real estate is one area where the efficiency and power of software is not evolved to its fullest. When it comes to technology, commercial real estate is sometimes the last real estate sector to the table and the slowest to adopt. But the excuses are getting fewer and the value has become harder to ignore. Anant Yardi, founder and owner of Santa Barbara-based Yardi Systems, Inc., explained in a recent general session presentation, “For me, change is incremental. It’s not always disruptive. Change is something we have to count on. If you are successful in making small steps over the course of time, you will be successful.” The proof is in the pudding. Companies like Kilroy Realty Corporation, with Sara Neff as its Senior Vice President, Sustainability, have grabbed on to new innovative technologies and used them to their benefit: in just four years, she took Kilroy from having no sustainability program to winning awards, reducing their carbon footprint and saving money. But not everyone has the foresight or risk-tolerance to be early adopters of technology that runs on artificial intelligence, smart IoT components, and other new innovations. The technology is sometimes hard to understand, so building operators and engineers may be reluctant to trust these new systems. Of course, these professionals bring their intelligence, experience and personalized knowledge to bear on the challenges they face. But as in any industry, when it comes to tasks like computing and analyzing data, software wins. Yardi Pulse, for example, uses artificial intelligence to analyze and automatically reset some HVAC setpoints every 30 seconds. A diligent building engineer may make similar adjustments once per day, once per season or even less often. Daily adjustments can make their building run well, but Pulse Active EE can crunch more data faster, continuously responding to real-time conditions to make the building even more efficient, substantially improving the owner’s bottom line and the comfort of building occupants. Similarly, Yardi Elevate delivers in-depth operational data and predictive insights with recommended actions to elevate asset performance. Property owners and managers can stop wasting time worrying about the health or value of their properties and instead gain unprecedented portfolio visibility, maintain data integrity, and reduce risk to close deals faster, complete projects on time, and hit forecasted returns. Easy access to data and some level of automated control works in the favor of building managers and just makes sense, so why aren’t all building engineers and asset managers embracing the software that can make their jobs easier? There may be three very human reasons for this resistance. Resist the Resistance There may be an underlying fear that better and smarter software threatens job security. But don’t forget, that while software is able to crunch numbers and analyze data faster than humans, only humans can implement and use these software tools. With more information at their fingertips, employees can perform their jobs better, establishing themselves as irreplaceable assets for their organization. Chess computers have been able to beat the best human players for decades, but a computer teamed with a chess expert are to this day able to beat the computers! Pride is another factor. Engineers excel at what they do because they take pride in their intimate knowledge of the structure and its systems. Introducing artificial intelligence software may feel like handing over part...