Using Smart Technology for Remote Monitoring of Vacant Properties During a Pandemic
Many commercial real estate owners and property managers are adapting to a new reality during the COVID-19 pandemic. Retail properties may experience increased vacancies as businesses struggle to stay open. Commercial office space occupancy may be threatened both short and long term as nearly 30% of the workforce is expected to work from home multiple days per week by the end of 2021.1 This unprecedented era brings new challenges to managing buildings that are no longer routinely occupied. With the possible reduction or absence of onsite maintenance staff and limited oversight into a building’s functionality and safety, properties may be more susceptible to loss or damage.
Smart technology can be a powerful tool for remote monitoring of vacant spaces by reducing time, effort and costs associated with property oversight. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and devices can provide notification of potential issues before they become severe. Many sensors and devices can send alerts to management via text or e-mail, can be managed on mobile devices and include the ability to monitor multiple properties in real time within a single dashboard. They may be able to be interconnected with other devices or sensors, even if purchased from unrelated manufacturers.
Below are examples of IoT solutions that can help monitor vacant properties remotely.
HVAC System Monitors
Properly functioning HVAC systems are vital to your property, but depending on their age, they may not be equipped with remote monitoring capabilities. The installation of wireless AC current meters can help to monitor system activity and health. This can include predictive maintenance alerts to indicate how machines are running to assess the need for service. Smart technology can also optimize power consumption based on changing occupancy trends.
If your property is vacant or has reduced occupancy, it’s at a higher risk for burglary and vandalism. Building accents made from metals, like copper, are increasingly susceptible to criminal opportunists because of their material resale values.
Wireless solutions are available to enhance your security with easier implementation than traditional wired solutions. Wireless infrared motion sensors can track movement within a building, while wireless magnetic detection sensors can detect intrusion through doors and windows. Wireless surveillance cameras can capture and record video any time day or night, as well as notify you instantly if someone or something is detected on the property.
Fire and smoke damage, whether intentionally or unintentionally set, are among the most common causes of loss in vacant buildings. Fire and smoke alarms are often integrated with security monitoring platforms. Many IoT devices can not only identify fire and smoke, but also provide instant alerts, notify emergency responders, and even collect and log data on fire system testing.
A broken valve, burst pipe, or malfunctioning sprinkler head, for example, can cause water damage in any building. In a vacant building, the extent of the damage can be severe without occupants to observe and readily correct the problem.
Water or leak sensors can detect the presence of water flow. These may be part of a standalone platform or integrated into a security monitoring platform. Some connect to shutoff devices that either automatically turn off the water or provide access to management through an app to trigger the shutoff.
Temperature, Humidity and Environmental Monitors
The sudden rise or drop in the temperature or humidity of a building can be an indication of a present or impending loss. Prolonged heat and humidity can also cause damage to building systems and materials if left unaddressed, and can cause adverse indoor environmental concerns. Wireless temperature sensors monitor temperature and humidity changes within facilities and enable on-site or remote adjustments to HVAC controls.
Integrating IoT devices and sensors into your property management process can also provide peace of mind when occupants are absent. Consult professional vendors of sensor and control devices for optimal solutions in managing the risks associated with vacant buildings.
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