Pandemic prompts proptech to the fore

Pandemic prompts proptech to the fore

Growing digitisation in real estate will remain a key driver in the long term, says JLL

Property technology or proptech has developed rapidly in recent years, primarily in response to the constant need to enhance efficiency and human experience in the real estate sector. Its influence is now rising at an accelerated rate as the property industry has called for a greater emphasis on health and well-being in face of the pandemic, according to JLL.

The property consultant expects this momentum to continue into the post-Covid era as the way real estate is operated and managed is becoming more digitised.

"While all of the key real estate sectors have embraced technologies that automate processes and therefore enhance efficiencies and human experience, the pandemic is speeding up the ongoing adoption of these technologies and the development of new tech solutions," says Dexter Norville, head of property and asset management at JLL Thailand.

"A wide introduction of contactless technologies exemplifies the case well, as users expect higher standards of hygiene and minimum in-person interactions in properties or precincts where they live, work or visit."

For example, The Parq, a mixed-use development that is a joint venture between TCC Assets and Frasers Property Holdings, has introduced an ultraviolet-C germicide robot and installed UV-C emitters in its air-cooling system to help eliminate bacteria and fungus and reduce the spread of airborne germs.

Similarly, the residential property development firm Ananda Development launched its "Covid-Free Zone" initiative including UV-C technology that it claims provides 99.9% protection against Covid-19, as well as to filter PM2.5 fine dust particles.

Robots are used at CentralWorld and Siam Paragon for temperature checks. The ones at Siam Paragon trail shoppers, reminding them to wear masks.

Though some of these anti-pandemic technologies will fade out in the post-Covid era, others will stay on for the long term. After all, as the real estate industry moves towards digitisation, proptech will continue to be one of the most important drivers in reimagining its future.

"We are shifting towards a more digitised way of property and facility management and this is an exciting journey in which proptech has played a big part," says Mr Norville.

Aside from health and safety, JLL has seen proptech play an increasing role in mitigating potential risks and maximising long-term asset value in many other areas. For instance, achieving operational excellence requires nimbleness in a rapidly evolving environment, while embracing technological advancements such as the Internet of Things, big data and artificial intelligence.

Developers and operators have, in some cases, succeeded in creating an agile working strategy that coordinates applications, application program interfaces and management systems. Operational excellence can be realised to mitigate risks, save energy and improve workflow efficiency and flexibility.

To enhance occupiers' experience, some landlords or property managers, through centralised command centres, will use a wide range of sensors and computer visualisation to capture human behaviour as it takes place on the property. Data analytics or machine learning can be used to provide instant support and customised service.

Among a few prime examples is One Bangkok, which is under construction. The capital's largest mixed-use development with 104 rai of land and 1.8 million square metres of floor area will have a smart centralised infrastructure system. Its features are to include central utility plants, centralised security and engineering hubs, and water and energy management smart grids overseen by a command centre. The site projects to have more than 250,000 smart sensors for efficient facility management and preventive maintenance.

The Makkasan project, which is in the design stage, is another major mixed-use project that aims to have smart technologies and data-driven management solutions at its core. Upon completion, both One Bangkok and the Makkasan project are expected to become digital assets that will set new standards in Asia-Pacific.

"In Thailand, although proptech is still in relative infancy, its adoption is becoming exponential," said Mr Norville. "In response to rising expectations from end users, key real estate stakeholders have begun to emphasise new value drivers beyond the common real estate mantra of 'location, location, location'. These will collectively drive innovation forward to reshape the future of real estate."


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