Today, we expect to be connected wherever we go, whether accessing high-speed internet at home, cellular data during our commutes or free in-flight WiFi — our reliance on connectivity has never been greater. Rapid advancements in technology, such as improved wireless connectivity, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT), are creating unprecedented opportunities to gather, collect and analyze the mountains of data we are uncovering in real time. Around the world, real estate developers and urban planners are building out the digital infrastructure necessary to support smart cities that will allow us to leverage big data and technology and revolutionize our daily lives.
While I care passionately about redundant fiber loops, 5G test sites and telecommunications infrastructure that are at the heart of smart cities, digital connectivity is only important because of what it lets peopledo: work more productively by using the cloud, envision new environments through augmented reality, gain remote access to healthcare with telemedicine and customize our homes and offices to our preferences with the click of a button.
The DFW Metroplex has experienced significant population and business growth in recent years and remains a hotbed for innovation with initiatives like the first vertiports for Uber Elevate and drive.ai’s first autonomous vehicle program to operate on public streets. North Texas communities such as Dallas, Frisco, Plano, Richardson, Arlington and Fort Worth are now laying the groundwork to become smart cities.
To deliver the full potential of smart cities in North Texas, “smart” experiences from public spaces must extend into the places where we spend most of our time, at home and at the office, to create immersive digital hubs. The adoption of smart tech in the home has skyrocketed in recent years, with time-saving devices like Amazon’s Alexa that allows us to order groceries and household necessities without pushing a button. Nest’s popular Learning Thermostat and Hello Doorbell provide remote access that makes our homes more comfortable, safe and convenient.
While the implementation of smart tech in the home has proliferated because it is relatively low-cost and driven by personal choice, commercial real estate applications have been slower to come online. Given the rapid adoption of smart tech in the home and the value it can provide to everyday users, it is clear that the demand for more business applications of IoT will increase in coming years, fueled by the cost-saving and efficiency-driving benefits this technology can provide.
Designing smart office buildings – the type that are outfitted with state-of-the-art technology and best-in-class digital infrastructure –provides businesses with the flexibility to establish workspaces that improve productivity, drive employee happiness and promote wellness. However, the responsibility for designing smart offices shouldn’t lay solely in the hands of innovative companies like EY or Google; commercial landlords and developers must provide spaces capable of supporting smart technology implementation within tenant office suites and communal spaces.
As smart buildings evolve and adoption increases, standard on-site amenities like parking, health and wellness services, and conference centers are now powered by tenant apps and IoT devices that can inform users if there are available treadmills at the gym, instantly book shared meeting facilities or help you find a parking space faster. It is worth noting, though, that a critical prerequisite to implementing the technology to support these experiences is careful planning for digital infrastructure.
Forward-thinking developers and landlords across North Texas including Hillwood, KBS, Bright Realty and Hartman Income REIT are retrofitting existing buildings – and developing new office complexes – with the ability to support what were once seen as futuristic technologies.
The DFW Metroplex will move closer to fully realizing the potential of smart city environments and improving quality of life if greater attention is paid to embedding technology into office properties from the ground up. The commercial real estate community will play a major role in creating truly immersive smart cities and benefit by attracting the attention of major corporate tenants, whether it’s Amazon HQ2 or an up-and-coming entrepreneurial business poised to disrupt an industry.
Technology is at the heart of any smart city and the commercial real estate community has the power to elevate Dallas and the greater Metroplex as a world-class smart city.
Arie Barendrecht is founder and CEO of WiredScore. In 2013, WiredScore was founded in New York by leaders in real estate, technology, and telecommunications to improve a city’s technology infrastructure and support entrepreneurs who were driving technological advances.