Transforming Real Estate Management with IBM TRIRIGA & Kontakt.io

25 October 2021

Publications around the globe have run headline after headline predicting that the office will never return to the way it was before COVID-19. While some businesses were learning the benefits of working from home before the pandemic, the mandatory lockdowns forced many others to embrace the change and see the benefits for themselves.

One of the biggest items on any company's budget is capital that is tied into real estate, or expenses that are tied into a lease. Companies that can release those assets or downsize the amount of space they lease stand to free up a lot of money.

How space is managed in the new normal is more important than ever. This new way of doing things should be treated not just as a trend or a buzz in the market, but as a complete realignment of the way business is conducted. This will allow companies to let connectivity drive workflows.

Transforming Real Estate Management

Fueled by pandemic-related changes, the real estate management world is beginning to realize the power that AI and the Internet of Things can unlock for them in terms of operational efficiency. Smarter buildings, powered by cutting-edge IoT devices, empower forward-thinking leaders to invest in these technologies at scale and, in so doing, help to future-proof their business.

Beyond COVID, other pressures make these changes more of a necessity than a wish. Carbon emissions from buildings make up 30% of global emissions and greenhouse effects. New regulations aimed at curbing those emissions bring financial incentives to companies to reduce their footprint and do their part for the environment.

IoT powered by near real time location data allows leaders to see how people are using spaces and make informed decisions about how to repurpose or eliminate those spaces. Of course, not all spaces can be eliminated. People working at home may allow for downsizing, but according to IBV Study ‘Covid-10 Consumer Survey’ 66 percent of employees would prefer to be in the office for at least a portion of the week. That means plenty of opportunities to use IoT technologies to make the most out of less space. 

Introducing IBM TRIRIGA

There are, broadly speaking, three spheres that make up a workplace:

  1. The Social sphere - Interactions employees have with other people in their work setting.
  2. The Work sphere - Interactions employees have with assigned tasks.
  3. The Physical sphere - Interactions employees have with the tangible environment.

The management of these three spheres combines to make up the company strategy. In real estate management, there are typically several stakeholders who play a role in making the decisions for this strategy. IBM TRIRIGA is an integrated workplace management system that brings together the tools that all of those stakeholders need to access the information they necessary to make informed decisions and manage their areas of responsibility. It does this through five key pillars:

real estate management transformation
  1. Sustainability - Tools here allow companies to measure, manage, and act on data related to the sustainability of their company.
  2. Space - Strategic supply and demand analysis gives management planning tools for space utilization. These include occupancy measurements and tools for booking rooms or desks.
  3. Lease - This pillar is all about real estate contracts and transaction management
  4. Projects - Proper project management needs tools for capital planning, investment, and project execution.
  5. Maintenance - These tools are aimed at operational efficiencies and resource planning.

Together, these pillars combine with IoT data to get a holistic view of the real estate portfolio and show where opportunities align so organizations can be more operationally efficient. The system provides more than any one stakeholder would need. Instead, it's a place for all of them to get the information relevant to their role and work together to find the best path forward.

Kontakt.io's Contribution

Kontakt.io offers the most scalable IoT tech stack. Open API, room sensors, employee badges, environmental sensors, and access control devices all communicate with industry-standard enterprise BLE. For companies that lack modern infrastructure, the network can be powered by Bluetooth LE gateways. More modern infrastructure with access points, such as Cisco's WiFi 6 architecture, allows IoT devices to connect to the cloud right from those access points. 

With those modern setups, the cloud consumes millions of transactions. Some of these are generated every second. It then takes this enormous amount of data, processes it, places it into a data lake, and issues updates that are location-aware, occupancy-aware, and environmentally aware. These updates are piped through IBM Watson, which is integrated with IBM TRIRIGA. All of this happens in near real-time, so within seconds of something happening on the floor, TRIRIGA gets the data and can make it available to whoever needs to see it. 

Environmental Monitoring

Environmental Monitoring

A typical commercial building has a large number of various devices on the ceilings or on the walls. A PIR occupancy sensor detects when someone comes through the door. Smoke detectors, light sensors that turn the lights on and off depending on occupancy, wayfinding beacons, air quality sensors, and sensors for temperature and humidity are all common things to find on any given ceiling. 

With all of these devices using several different connection types, competition for wireless space can create collisions and introduce inefficiencies. Even worse, it results in a siloed system. Many devices may talk to their manufacturers, but none of them are talking to each other. There's no centralized location for the data. These data silos make an additional challenge on top of the inefficiency created by having so many devices in the first place.  

Kontakt.io's 9-in-1 sensor platform - Portal Beam combines all of these devices into a single, compact unit that uses Bluetooth Low Energy to gather the same data, pool it, and send it off to a single data lake. When it comes to environmental monitoring, this single-device monitoring system is able to track:

  • Air Quality - The level of particles in the air. These particles impact allergies and can be used to track vaping.
  • Light - Lights left on after work hours result in needlessly high utility costs.
  • Air Pressure - This sensor will tell you whether a room is pulling or pushing air. This has an impact on the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Humidity - Also important for containing infectious disease. An optimal humidity will kill viruses on a tabletop in 45 minutes, whereas a room that's too dry will allow the virus to linger for seven hours or more.

Location Tracking and Indoor Navigation

Location Tracking and Indoor Navigation

BLE-enabled badge holders allow employees and visitors to slide their ID badge into the device. These devices can then track the wearer down to the room level. This allows for efficiency increases, such as automated time management. The employee distress button also makes it easy for staff members to get help quickly should an emergency arise.

The IoT devices are also used for indoor navigation. By downloading a mobile app to their smartphone, visitors will be able to more quickly find their way around your facility and employees can be easily guided to areas of the property they may not be familiar with. 

Live Occupancy

Beginning with the building itself, the live occupancy Portal Beam & API from Kontakt.io give a detailed occupancy view. From the building as a whole, the data becomes increasingly granular, moving to individual floors, rooms, and even to specific desks and cubicles. This makes space planning easier, makes it quicker for employees to see which rooms are available for a meeting, and more. 

Live Occupancy is powered by thermal cameras, which depict individuals as blobs of heat rather than identifiable staff members. This is useful in the protection of privacy in the workplace while still enabling the monitoring of critical information like staff location and numbers. 

How TRIRIGA and Kontakt.io Work Together

The collaboration between Kontakt.io and TRIRIGA takes place mainly in the space occupancy monitoring and space utilization sphere. TRIRIGA Building Insights takes data from all the Kontakt.io IoT devices and provides density heat mapping and other features. Building managers will be able to see at a glance where there is available space, check if there's any occupancy overages, and quickly find people for emergency planning when needed. 

In addition to the real time heatmaps, the system applies analytics to the data. This means that managers can see which spaces are used the most, which are underutilized, and which need to be resized. It isn't just taking the data and spitting it back out, but actually contextualizing it, so space planners are able to use it as an input into their own processes. 

An employee services app allows employees to book a room or a desk easily and is able to quickly find available meeting rooms. It's able to understand when rooms are reserved but no one shows up by monitoring the occupancy. The room can then be released back into the system so space utilization is maximized. The availability of any room can be displayed on a panel right outside the room, and the panel can even be used to reserve the room.

Getting Started

How companies make use of their space is going to become increasingly important as we adapt to the new normal that mainstreaming of working at home has brought us. Technologies such as those by Kontakt.io and IBM TRIRIGA are going to be a big part of how enterprises manage the large space they currently own or lease, and determine how much of that is still needed. To learn more about how Kontakt.io and IBM TRIRIGA can go to work for your business, contact us today. 

Aneta Ciurkot

Director, Product Marketing

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    [Updated for 2020]
    [Updated for 2020]