UAE realty turns to tech solutions to address post-pandemic needs - GulfToday

UAE realty turns to tech solutions to address post-pandemic needs


A view of Dubai. COVID-19 interrupted the process of steadily building the sector. Kamal Kassim/ Gulftoday


The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced unique market pressures and challenges across industrial sectors. In the context of the real estate industry in the UAE, the crisis interrupted a process of steadily building renewed growth. For the industry to revive and leverage these underlying trends, in the aftermath of the pandemic, it will be crucial that building owners and the developer community are able to adapt to a new normal.

The industry will need to collectively implement a new model of facility management services, and continue to revive investor and tenant confidence.

While this list of pre-requisites presents a challenge, the industry is well placed to implement solutions that can – rapidly and effectively – deliver on these needs.

 Already one of the markets most enthusiastically adopting technology and digital transformation, the UAE real estate sector has an opportunity to emerge as a global benchmark, for the restarting of economic activity.

For their part, the administrative bodies in the UAE too have been proactively assisting the industry. In a recent move RERA, for instance, lowered service charges for properties in Dubai, to lower home ownership costs in the emirate. Digital technology, as a means to provide quick wins to kick start revival.

Health concerns have imposed limitations that will require a significant departure from previously established norms and practices. In deference to social distancing norms, the industry has had to pivot to deploying significantly fewer onsite staff than was previously the case. Frequently touched surfaces, such as elevator buttons, thermostats, lighting, access control, need to now be made compatible with touchless solutions. Considering that one of the challenges associated with pandemic is the high number of asymptomatic individuals, another major requirement is the ability to accurately monitor and track the movement of visitors to buildings.

Prabhu Ramachandran, CEO and Founder of Facilio Inc., a leading technology company in the facilities management space, brought to our attention some of the initiatives that technology partners to the real estate industry are rolling out, in response. “The need of the hour is for data-driven operational solutions that allow the industry to be responsive and agile, while making a seamless transition to the new normal”, says Prabhu. “To fast-track that process, Facilio has launched REbuild, a ready-to-deploy operations toolkit, designed to help real estate owners and facilities management providers comply with the new operational guidelines in restarting operations. The solution was developed by working closely with clients and industry experts, and quickly rolled out by leveraging the Facilio O&M platform”.

“Building data, from systems and workflows across an entire real estate portfolio, can now be unified on a central cloud platform. Combined with mobility and AI-generated predictive analytics, this data-driven model will create a basis for the industry to move forward. Centralized and real time command and control, as well as complete system-wide transparency are needed to make the transition, and the technologies already exist, for this to be achieved”.

Accurate, real time and unified digital solutions, at a portfolio scale.

For an industry that was already banking on technology to reconcile the complexities involved in managing its multiple vendor protocols, sustainability goals, heightened customer expectations, and distances across which its assets are spread, Covid-19 presents an additional list of variables. Fortunately, many of the same solutions developed to simplify legacy operations can be repurposed for these new requirements as well.

“IoT technology now allows us to instantly gather automation data across an entire building and even a portfolio, with ease”, says Prabhu. “AI-driven analytics can use this data to give building owners and managers instant insights that they can implement.  Add to this equation machine learning, cloud computing, mobility, and digital apps and interfaces, and you have the basic framework within which all stakeholders and functions can be empowered to respond to the scenario that has emerged in the wake of the pandemic”. A quick look at the functionality on offer, using a ready-to-deploy toolkit such as Facilio’s REbuild, includes:

Digitally automating the management of frequent deep cleaning and sanitization, in keeping with the stringent protocols required.

Adherence to upgraded HVAC guidelines and enabling live dashboards, for tenants to monitor compliance to HVAC protocols.

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