The concept of smart home technology is not new. In fact, many of the technologies we take for granted today like voice control and machine-learning thermostats were actually dreamt up more than 50 years ago in cartoons like, “The Jetsons” and “Lost in Space.” From video chatting to smart watches, what once seemed futuristic and impossible is now part of our everyday lives.
Though the smart home market has been exploding in the SFR/consumer space for years, multifamily property owners and managers are just now realizing that residents in their communities are looking for these same technologies in their apartments.
As an owner or manager of a multifamily property, smart technology can be a great way to differentiate your property from others in the area, helping you to secure residents faster and minimize vacancies. And if you do it correctly, it can also make your operations smoother and more efficient.
So how do you know which technologies are right for your portfolio?
Let’s take a closer look at some of the things to consider when choosing smart home technology for your apartments…
For many people who are familiar with smart home technology, the first thing they think about is the control interface - or, how you interact with the devices. Typically this is a touch screen panel built into the wall, a mobile app, or some form of voice control interface (e.g., Alexa, Siri, etc).
The reason this is an important thing to consider is that if the interface itself isn’t intuitive to use, or if it can’t easily and seamlessly integrate new functionality and technology, then the smart connected home will quickly become “dumb” and outdated, no matter how fancy and cutting-edge the devices themselves are. Eventually you’ll be left with a mess of smart appliances and security systems that are all isolated and unable to communicate with one another. This leaves your residents and on-site staff jumping between three or four different platforms or apps to control each device.
Apartment managers need to make sure the devices are accessible from some type of enterprise “portal” for controlling an entire portfolio of devices. Nearly all existing smart home consumer products, such as Nest or Wink, are designed for single family homes or condos and do not have this functionality.
Zego, on the other hand, has a web app portal for property managers and a native iOS and Android mobile app for residents. Managers are able to control all of the devices from one administrative account, and there is one single app for residents’ use.
It’s a mistake to ask residents to manage multiple apps for different features throughout their home (e.g., one app for the lock, another for the door, yet another app for the thermostat, etc). This is sure to lead to a bad user experience and customer support headaches for property staff.
Putting all of the controls in one place leads to happy residents -- which makes for a happy manager.
The installation process also plays a big role in choosing a smart home technology strategy. For instance:
- How is the hardware installed?
- Do the devices require any specialized training to install?
- Can you deploy one unit at a time, or do you have to do the entire property at once?
Zego’s product was carefully designed to easily be self installed, allowing deployments at your own pace. This allows you to slowly upgrade your units individually, over time. And the best part? Once the hardware is installed, it only takes a mobile phone and a few minutes to set up each unit, no local network connections or property-wide wifi networks needed.
Another thing to consider is the internet connectivity of the system. Is the system based in the cloud? Does it rely solely on WiFi or ethernet, or does it offer a cellular connection as well? Cellular connectivity is almost always required in apartments so hubs can be connected even when there is no internet connection (ie. vacant units).
The Zego hub runs on both Ethernet and cellular for internet -- offering 24/7/365 connectivity. You’ll have uninterrupted control and access to all devices across your portfolio regardless of the unit occupancy status.
The device protocol is also important -- in other words, how do the devices communicate with each other (through z-wave, zigbee, thread, Bluetooth, etc)? Z-wave is the safest and most widely supported protocol. They are not only the best devices, they are the most secure and future proof. Z-wave has been around for almost a decade and is utilized by 1000’s of products, all of which are certified by a centralized authority for security and interoperability. This is why we chose Z-wave when building the Zego platform.
Smart home technology isn’t going anywhere and, as it grows in popularity, more and more residents will be demanding these features in their home. Managers are wise to stay ahead of the curve by offering residents a smart home amenity package. Contact us to get started today.