Proptech is in top gear thanks to the pandemic triggering a rapid acceleration. Most real estate firms had hired property technology experts and advisors prior to last year’s crisis. Now close to two thirds of Australia’s major industry players are reviewing or considering upgrading existing systems as property companies across the asset classes view technology solutions as key to driving a return to workplaces.

A proptech survey of 216 Australian property companies, many with asset portfolios valued above $1 billion, found the pandemic had sparked a far larger spend on new tech with 55 per cent channelling more funds toward existing systems. The inaugural Proptech Survey by Yardi software systems and The Property Council of Australia also found greater openness and a more “experimental mindset” toward “trialling, testing and tweaking to stay competitive and above all create a better customer experience.” Top solutions being favoured were track and trace (23 per cent), touchless access (22%) and social distancing technologies (15%).

Proptech a game changer

The rising uptake of proptech – defined as any innovative technology that reimagines property’s core processes and business models – saw the Property Funds Association hold a special seminar this week dedicated to exploring latest options available to CRE.

Four leading international proptech companies outlined their most recent solutions to the Creating Safer Workplaces seminar, the range of futuristic technologies including a lighting system that disinfects premises through its UV spectrum and another regarded as the world’s most advanced building sensor system.

Proptech solutions have become so sophisticated they are now significant game changers for commercial real estate said Property Funds Association CEO Paul Healy

“This is truly cutting-edge technology,” Mr Healy said. “These kinds of advanced technologies possess high levels of capability which could be ground-breaking in many areas.

“These solutions are giving landlords the opportunity to get their workers back to work which generates rental stability and impacts on values. Advanced proptech will make buildings more desirable and leasable by creating more hygienic environments which underpins rents. When tenants feel it’s safe to get back to work it will see rental demand grow and have positive effects on valuations.”

Companies and latest solutions presented to the conference were:

PointGrab: Providers of highly advanced building sensor systems for workspace optimisation. PointGrab technology, already in use by global firm Deloitte, delivers data on occupant behaviour and movements. The pandemic has resulted in PointGrab tech becoming a vital tool for providing information on social distancing, with capability to track such factors as density in specific spaces and accurately assess flow of occupants in, around and out of buildings.

 AuraAir: A filtration and disinfection system effective against pollutants, impurities as well as COVID-19. AuraAir’s systems can be integrated into smart office systems and programmed to perform such tasks as purify the air in a room 45 minutes before a meeting starts. AuraAir employs a multi-layered process to vigilantly monitor air quality. Users can control, define and modify filtration settings, allowing them to change their AuraAir systems’ functionality and tailor it to their business needs. Air quality levels can be varied between rooms and spaces. AuraAir is now in 45 countries and systems are available for both residential and commercial use.  

Juganu: Lighting specialists that have developed a range of products including a smart indoor lighting system specifically for disinfecting premises via a particular UV range. Juganu system J.Protect targets viruses including COVID-19, fungi and bacteria. It can replace existing light systems or installed new to provide smart lighting, dimming, colour and temperature control while continuously disinfecting. Juganu representative Dubi Lavi told the seminar the “ultra-wide spectrum is set at the safest part of the UV spectrum and attacks pathogens on multiple fronts with an increased germicidal effect”.

enVerid Systems: Providers of HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) energy-saving technologies to improve indoor air quality for a wide range of buildings. Buildings are responsible for around 40 per cent of carbon emissions globally – most of which is caused by their mechanisms for heating and cooling the outside air. Regular systems rely on using massive volumes of outside air to maintain indoor air quality, a process that requires sizeable equipment and can waste up to 50 per cent of HVAC energy consumption. enVerid differs from traditional air conditioning systems by cleaning indoor air at a molecular level. This allows enVerid to use far less air from outside and results in a smaller, less expensive HVAC system than a traditional unit with lower operating costs that produces premium air quality.