Digital transformation of the property management industry has led to vast improvements in efficiency in just a short amount of time. It seems like only yesterday that condo managers were spending days trying to notify residents of an important issue, or weeks struggling to get to the bottom of a security problem that can now be resolved in an instant or completely avoided.
In fact, technology is revolutionizing the way condo buildings operate and supporting a stronger sense of community, ultimately building better relations among residents, condo managers and extended teams.
Condo managers are benefiting within their job, as well. Those who embrace technology are streamlining duties that just a few years ago may have upended their day. Technology has the power to eliminate problems, like flooding and extensive water damage altogether. This allows for more time to attend to more pressing matters, or even kick off exciting new projects while supporting a better work environment and more rewarding role.
Here are some ways emerging and evolving technology can create a sense of community, while bringing property management into the future.
Chatbots: Chatbots and virtual robot assistants can provide almost immediate answers to residents’ questions or complaints. This rapid response can also make for a better rapport between condo property managers and residents in general. Chatbots can be programmed to respond to common maintenance queries, thus reducing the number of requests the condo property manager has to field on any given day. Furthermore, as all requests are not created equal, the chatbot can prioritize complaints and segregate them from high, medium or low emergency situations.
Depending on the issue, the chatbot can even be trained to help the resident resolve minor issues that don’t require expert intervention on their own. The chatbot can also share helpful explanatory videos and links.
While chatbots promote efficiency, they shouldn’t, nor can they, replace a human touch. There’s also no need for them to sound robotic and boring. Artificial Intelligence allows them to be programmed to have a lively, fun and friendly persona.
Community forums: Transitioning from paper postings to digitized communications is being adopted at a rapid rate. However, to truly be effective in creating a sense of community within a condo building, a portal that allows property management to communicate with residents, as well as residents to communicate with each other, supports an enriched sense of community. For example, residents can seek out community suggestions, share information about a local event or post items for sale like furniture, workout gear or bicycles.
Parcel management: The spike in e-commerce has familiarized condo managers with how a deluge of parcels in a lobby can cause chaos within the condo community. To avoid headaches associated with missing and misplaced packages, a parcel management plan can mitigate issues and disputes among residents that can quickly take up much of a property manager’s day.
Many condos have chosen to designate a room for parcels. Some condos don’t have this luxury, so they have opted to build a cubby behind the concierge desk to keep parcels organized and from piling up.
A keypad system that allows couriers to insert packages into a locker that requires a code can also provide a solution. However, getting all couriers to adopt this system can be challenging. Posting signage at the front door and within the main entrance in the courier’s anticipated line of site can help ensure more couriers follow the process.
Keeping a parcel management system running smoothly is a two-way effort. Residents should also be reminded through the condo’s portal communication that they need to keep an eye out for email and text notifications advising of a delivery so they can pick up their packages as soon as possible. This reduces chances of packages going missing.
Smart security: Robotic security patrol is being used at some malls, developments and corporate facilities south of the border. These robots can scan licence plates, handle facial recognition and even apprehend criminals. Hiring one can range from $60,000 to $70,000 US per yearly lease.
Property management in Canada hasn’t yet gone as far. Smart security can’t match the value of a human security guard. However, technologies can provide greatly improved and enhanced monitoring and immediate communication in a way humans can’t because they just can’t be everywhere all at once.
Motion sensors paired with technology send condo property managers push notifications regarding suspicious movement in pool areas or on the grounds. Soon, smart security will be able to process this information through artificial intelligence and take next steps. Currently, smart security can do things like differentiate between a pet or person.
Resident controlled smart locks for main entry points are also being widely implemented to increase security and safety. Meanwhile, e-keys for maintenance and skilled tradespeople enable temporary entry and exit access and monitoring.
Smart sensors: Smart sensors are a way to save time while supporting sustainability. A smart sensor in an underground parking garage can trigger exhaust fans to turn on versus keeping them running continuously and unnecessarily wasting energy. Additionally, sensors play an important role in keeping costs down because they can monitor temperature swings and water usage to give managers and residents more control over their bills, while providing increased comfort.
Smart sensors can also prevent significant water damage that can cause major and costly inconveniences to residents. They can detect a leaky or broken pipe before it leads to tens of thousands of dollars in repairs and months to fix, which means residents could lose the use of common areas they once enjoyed.
Mo Killu is the vice president of communities and client services at GPM Property Management Inc. He is a revered expert within the condominium property management industry with over a decade of experience overseeing a portfolio of top condo buildings across Toronto. Killu currently oversees a diverse portfolio that includes special projects, process improvement initiatives and legislative updates. He is an active member of ACMO, CCI and CAI and currently involved in CCI Toronto Chapter Committees: The Volunteer Committee and the Condo Strength Committee. He also has hands-on experience as a condo board member as well as has successfully completed Tarion. www.gpmmanagement.com