UKPA Roundtable: How PropTech can enable integrated communities

UKPA Roundtable: How PropTech can enable integrated communities


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How can PropTech enable an integrated community?

We hosted a Roundtable event alongside Good Relations on the 28th May with a fantastic list of attendees. Insights came from The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, property, PropTech & technology industries and a range of start-ups.

Attendee List:
Rupert Parker, Avison Young
Freddie Walls, Build ID
Phil Brady, Good Relations
Linda Chandler, Hyperlocal Cities
Kembi Coakelin, Holtby Turner
Jack Downey, Infabode
Adam Hurst, Log My Care
Richard Böckel, Myo
Theo Sowunmi, Project Etopia
Sammy Pahal, UK PropTech Ass.
Frankie Wright, UK PropTech Ass.
Nick Donnelly, WorkClub

Introduction

The benefits of PropTech goes beyond reducing costs, increasing efficiency and increasing profits as we’ve seen in the property industry. PropTech can have positive impacts at a national level on the economy, environment and in society. During this roundtable session, we invited representatives from PropTech companies, property owners/occupiers and central government, to explore how PropTech can bring together communities and the economic and social benefits this can bring.

Special thanks to Jo Tasker, Tasker Consulting for chairing the session and our Partners, Good Relations for hosting.

We’ve seen a number of new services and solutions aimed at various asset classes and sectors, which result in better communication between occupiers/tenants/residents within a building and the building owner/manager, more seamless experiences and more collaboration.  So, what if we could use this technology for good, to create better integrated communities and to ultimately help with social inclusion, loneliness and well-being?
 
What does an integrated community look like?

Linda Chandler from Hyperlocal Cities presents her vision of an integrated community as “pillars; government, health care, education, real estate, energy; all of them combined. In terms of the future of the high street, it isn’t just about retail, it’s about health, education, co-working – all of these assets that will help contribute to an vibrant integrated community.”
 
How PropTech enables integrated communities:

     

  • Through seamless integration of community services. Technology has the ability to underpin everything we do and facilitate our lives – from smart technology in the home being used to wake us up in the morning, to wearable technology monitoring our health and sending reports to our GP surgery’s, dental practices and hospitals, to ordering our weekly shop straight to our homes. Step out of the home, and PropTech can be used to facilitate access to buildings, and to help us move within towns and cities from property to property. But how do we get there? We need to unite PropTech, property and tech and overcome barriers to adoption. Whilst newer properties are able to integrate tech during the design and build stages, the majority of properties are much older and do not have the tech built in. In order for tech to be more easily adopted, property companies need to work closely with PropTech’s.  Avison Young are currently supporting Myo, a start-up, through the use of market experts and real estate advisors. Richard Böckel, CEO of Myo explains how Myo have built an app to transform the way the care sector communicates between families, care homes and residents themselves. The app can help carer’s or children stay more connected to the families of those unable to use technology.
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  • By helping local businesses and keeping people in the communities for longer. ‘We bring the communities to them’ – Nick Donnelly, CEO/Founder of WorkClub discussed how their app is a network of hybrid workspaces for individuals to discover and access close by and more easily. Nick works with local businesses to make use of empty space during the day, and to provide local entrepreneurs or lone workers with a flexible place to work. PropTech also has the potential to be used to prolong independent living. PropTech apps can be used to purposefully bring together people of all ages and create co-generational living. This could provide support for the elderly, and have positive impacts on their well-being.

 

  • By improving the use of community spaces. Freddie Walls from Build ID explains that “the real value is using technology to bring individuals together, it’s the value that happens when the individuals are together and what they can create”. Build ID is an online platform and professional community that connects real estate developers with consultants and transformative tools for their schemes.

 

  • By improving the quality of community services. Technology can provide transparency and help demonstrate, or in some cases may improve, the quality of services. Adam Hurst from Log My Care shared how they are helping to support carers in care homes using technology. Log My Care has developed a free planning software to provide better care in care homes by allowing carers easily plan, record and coordinate care on the go through an app. In an industry which has recently received a lot of press, apps such as Log My Care can help to provide reassurance to families of individuals within care homes, and improve the reputation of the industry.

 
Key challenges for citizens in a technologically advanced community:
 
Mental and physical health. As telecoms progress such as 5G, it is concerning what physical health problems will develop from this as well. Moreover, individuals are becoming more dependent and reliant on their phones, this can lead to absent social skills. Discussed above by Freddie Walls, Built ID, it is important that although we use Tech to facilitate good, we must still have a balance between online & offline.
 
Inclusivity. Whether it be by factors of location or housing infrastructure developing in rural areas for affordability. It is important to not forget those that are unable to access technology such as vulnerable individuals and the elderly, which can leave them excluded from a tech enabled community. Companies such as WorkClub, Log My Care and Myo are focused addressing this issue in a tech enabled community.
 
Cyber Security. The more data and personal information becomes online, the higher the risk for data exploitation and cyber security threats thus individuals may start to become risk adverse in their day-to-day life. As technology advances organisations adopting technology must take cyber security and data protection seriously. Adam Hurst from Log My Care explained that they have adopted an easy to read, one page Terms and Conditions approach for their customers to avoid any surprises in the small print.
 
How we can achieve the vision of a truly integrated community?
 

  • By encouraging the debate and working together to drive digital transformation. The UK PropTech Association aims to support the industry alongside advocates for PropTech that are encouraging digital transformation through internal education, such as Rupert Parker from Avison Young. “If employees can speak knowledgeably to clients about technology that impacts relevant aspects of their clients’ sector, the service delivered will be enhanced and clients will fundamentally be happier”.
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  • Encouraging consumer demand and competition. Organisations that identify their competitor utilizing technology, are more likely to adopt the technology that is driving the change. PR expert, Phil brady says “Create a situation that is inconsumable without technology and provides significant benefits to the individual. Sell the benefits of organisations; care homes, co-working spaces, via technology.”

 
Tech can facilitate great things. The value in using apps and technology to help integrate communities, avoid inclusion and become more accessible has dramatically increased. However, whilst Tech can be used for good, we need to manage the possible negative impacts of technology and maintain an equilibrium.
 
 

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