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In addition to the current impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19), there have been generational technology changes and vendor fragmentation have created significant risks and opportunities for you as a real estate executive. Its critical to know the history of how you got here and to create a simple, manageable plan for mitigating these risks and creating success in the smart buildings era.

With the onset of digital building systems, such as HVAC, elevators, lighting, metering, and parking in the 1980s, the entire ecosystem of real estate was caught off guard by the new technology environment and has still not recovered nearly 40 years later. Now contractor pre-site visit health screening and remote access management adds new dimensions.

Architects, engineers, contractors, facility staff, and property services companies have all been slow to react to the information technology (IT) realities in our buildings systems, and traditional IT solutions providers are distantly unfamiliar with the culture and operational technology (OT) in commercial buildings.

With subsequent developments in middleware, big data, IoT, and AI, as well as coworking and overall increased emphasis on occupant experience, there is further confusion and operational risks such as cybersecurity. In addition, uncoordinated fragmentation of systems and vendors drives up overall capital and operational cost structure, on top of identified insurance gaps and the need to manage and restrict contractor access to buildings and areas of buildings. 

Due to this technology sea change, and the need to address public health in your buildings, data has become a utility requirement in real estate, much like electricity, water, and gas. As it is with the three original utilities, data also requires an infrastructure for building systems interoperability, analytics, visualization, AI and cybersecurity. We call this The Fourth Utility™ Approach.

You can use this approach for new standards in design and construction, updated policy for the portfolio and contractors and more effective departmental alignment that will spare you from major operational risks and allow for new levels of personal and organizational success.

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