Community IoT – Connected Residents for Peace of Mind

by Parks Associates | Oct. 26, 2017

Content by Thomas Rockmann, VP Connected Home at Deutsche Telekom 

The future looks bright for the connected home, with considerable innovation just around the corner. A new concept called Community IoT illustrates this potential market opportunity perfectly, especially as it is predicted that the expanding IoT ecosystem will have a $1.7 trillion annual economic impact in cities by 2025.

Currently, 50% of the world's population lives in cities, and by 2050 the figure will rise to 70%. Fascinatingly though, this city-dwelling majority must contend with the fact that 99% of apartment buildings worldwide have no digital infrastructure, which presents a major opportunity for social innovators, telcos and enterprise alike.

One example where these smart home technologies are being brought together in a win-win situation is a social community service that was rolled out in Germany in May 2017, which exemplifies the benefits of wider smart home connectivity for apartment block tenants, and highlights the business opportunities available from future smart home innovations.

The smart home community concept

In this German example, in approximately five minutes and without any technical skills, any resident can start a private social platform for their building. By fusing together smart home technology, IoT and social network, inhabitants of apartment blocks can enhance traditional smart home offerings by extending them beyond their own homes, creating a vibrant new community - and in doing so creating a new business opportunity that underscores a wider future impetus.

The resulting fusion of smart home technology, IoT and social network, will see community IoT connect homeowners in building blocks or gated communities, then linking them with facilities management and property managers.

Whether via shared smart sensors or by manual reporting, building faults and breakdowns could be easily logged and reported to the relevant authorities. For example, a broken lift or non-functioning communal light may be reported by one resident, logged, and a repair technician allocated.

Other members of the community could follow the progress of the repair, rather than logging duplicate requests. Where apartments are non-serviced, a premium service with a home emergency repairs provider could be connected – or offered as an option instead.

Community IoT as a business proposition

Once connected to smart meters, any community IoT platform will be able to monitor irregular usage and pre-empt damaging leaks, for example, by use of an energy measurement service. While receiving a community alert that an intruder alarm has been triggered enables fast response as well as enhancing security for the community as a whole.

This new social community business model offers added value to the smart home proposition, and also a whole new set of opportunities to property developers and maintenance technicians in the future. Building managers and contractors will benefit from smoother workflows, aggregating specialist jobs across sites, and also gaining the trust of tenants through regular interaction and clear communication as well as rapid response.

Meanwhile, property developers stand to benefit by smoothing the commissioning and snagging of new apartment buildings, as building managers will be able to log and track user-reported requests, and additionally significant savings across larger portfolios by aggregating issues and fixing them in bulk.

Marketing and service opportunities

Once a community IoT platform is established, the potential for high traction cross-selling and upselling among peer groups is particularly strong. According to research, marketing-inspired word-of-mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid-for advertising, and these customers have a 37% higher retention rate - a fact that has led to today’s burgeoning influencer marketing budgets.

In terms of services, there is huge potential in the future. Not only enhanced premium services - such as professional alarm response services, but also installation and maintenance offerings. Telcos with in-home experience and downstream data provision are particularly well-placed to take advantage of this new market.

Then there are the data aggregator services, for example third-party energy measurement tools that offer tailored energy packages to suit usage and environmental tastes, sharing economy services for transport or storage. In short, the opportunities are almost limitless. Seems like it’s time to start planning today for a more connected and social tomorrow…

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