JPM recently spoke with Aaron Short, CEO of B-Line, a workplace management and health optimization platform. B-Line integrates with existing building systems to automate access control, resource booking, space optimization, indoor air quality monitoring, and contact tracing in an all-in-one platform.
B-Line was one of only nine companies selected for the 2022 REACH Commercial program, a technology accelerator created by Second Century Ventures, the most active global fund in real estate technology and backed by the National Association of REALTORS®. The REACH program helps technology companies scale across the real estate vertical and adjacent markets through education, mentorship, and market exposure.
JPM talked with Short about the Proptech revolution, how data can transform space planning and optimization, and technology’s role in everything from contact tracing to the transition to hybrid work.
First, can you talk about the moment Proptech is currently having in real estate management? How big is the disruption?
When compared to other industries, real estate has been slow to leverage new technology, with many decisions based on instinct and experience, rather than being data-driven. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this quickly changed. Owners and operators turned to digitization to reduce analog processes and address incomplete data sets to effectively manage real estate transactions and operations remotely.
Property owners and operators now have an ongoing need for automated and highly accurate health and safety procedures. They’re turning to technology to implement hybrid workflows and tools to continually assess how best to manage their assets in the future. A convergence of these factors, and many others, has pushed property technology to the point it’s at today. This has introduced an increasing number of dynamic and diverse Proptech solutions to the market.
When we hear about what Proptech can do for the industry, we often hear about taking the tenant experience to a whole new level. How does Proptech accomplish this new level of tenant engagement?
Owners of commercial real estate portfolios are finding that leveraging the capabilities of Proptech adds value to their portfolios and operations, and it helps to differentiate their properties in the market. This benefits tenants, investors, employees, and the wider community.
Whether in the context of hybrid work or residential spaces, utilizing data from Proptech solutions helps to create more positive tenant experiences simply by automating everyday processes and logistical challenges such as parking, access management, or booking a workspace. By automating these processes in an all-in-one platform, managers are able to right-size spaces for their tenants and proactively plan and design workspaces. This generates new value propositions for their occupants while increasing productivity and overall satisfaction.
What advantages are there to managing buildings’ health and wellness attributes with Proptech?
A good Proptech solution helps to upgrade existing workspaces by automating systems and processes so that when emergencies happen, they can be managed effectively. At the beginning of the pandemic, organizations relied on analog processes—pen-and-paper sign-in sheets and resource allocation—that didn’t help them gauge capacity or ensure safety. All of this was being done manually by administrative staff. People were getting tired of it on all fronts while still having to prepare for challenging times ahead.
In 2020, the federal government of Canada released a COVID-19 contact-tracing app, but it wasn’t widely adopted, so the government put out a call for innovators to automate this process. The solution needed to be built on privacy, security, and seamless integration. We were one of a select group of companies chosen to develop a solution that addressed COVID fatigue but could also be used indefinitely once the pandemic was under control. Now we’re working with a variety of building owners and operators to ensure health and safety issues can be addressed in minutes and that their properties are prepared for such challenges in the future.
How can managers determine if their property is a good candidate for a Proptech solution?
If you want to be proactive and understand how to manage your assets more effectively and efficiently, you would be a great candidate for Proptech. The insights Proptech can provide will help you increase security, health, and safety, and improve tenant communication and engagement.
While certain advancements in how Proptech can support and optimize both management and operations are still very much ahead of us, we’re excited to be a part of this period of innovation.