Chicago BuildingTech: Technologies Serving The Built Environment

DisruptCRE hosted a panel of experts in Chicago who discussed how technology and physical environments were integrating within their sectors of the commercial real estate industry.

The panelists included:

  • Moderator: Tom Williams, Vice President – Boingo
  • Kevin Bredeson, CTO – Skender
  • Dawn Riegel, Director, Interior Architecture & Design – Ware Malcomb
  • DeJeana Chappell, Senior Managing Director, Central Regional Workplace Strategy Lead – Savills Studley

How is the digital world being blended into the built environment? What are the implications for both the occupiers and for the landlords?

Williams starts by giving a shout out to Aaron Meyerson from WiredScore who participated on an earlier panel for emphasizing the overarching trend blending our digital world into the built environments where we live and work which is connectivity. Connectivity proved to be a central theme throughout the duration of the conference at large.

Chappell discussed how lagging elements of work environments created opportunities for infrastructure improvement.

“A lot of times I feel like you’re walking into the dark ages,” Chappell said. “Because it’s just really not to the same degree of interactivity and integration with our smart devices that we see in the non-working world. So I think a lot of the conversations that I’m having with clients that I’m working with, both tenants and landlords, is how can you utilize infrastructure of the building and how can you create more machine learning and more predictive analytics. What I do is the combination of the people science as I say and the building science and how can you align the two together and what tools can you utilize in order to help provide information of where your employees are working, how they’re working, how satisfied they are.”

Riegel focused on how data could be used to find the balance between time, money and efficiency.

“The data and technology are really bridging the gap between costs, efficiency and saving time so if you can kind of get that trifecta you’ve won the game and if it’s a corporation or if it’s a building landlord or multiple platforms for developers across the country they’re all looking to go ahead and win that race,” Riegel said.

For Bredeson, the key was figuring out when in the process to begin a conversation about implementing new technology

“How do we engage in these conversations early enough…because we can supply all of these devices we can start to shape and conform the systems to give us the experiences and the spaces that we’re all looking for but a lot of the times I spend my time thinking about we should have engaged in this conversation at some certain phase whether it’s in the design phase or the early construction phase,” Bredeson said. “Because these systems…and the influence they can have is pretty monumental when you think about it but again not having that, it almost comes into a retrofit conversation that we’re thinking about the end of a construction project.”

With constant connectivity, how are you meeting the needs of tenants today, and what expectations do you have for needs in the future?

Riegel spoke about how flexibility was important, given the ever-evolving world of technical necessities.

“As far as design goes in the physical built environment we’re just trying to be as flexible as we can…I think that any technology tools that helped us to get there really greatly improve the tenant…landlord….[and] client…experience.”

Meanwhile, Bredeson looked to potential benefits in terms of workload. “Hopefully someday all of this machine learning and ultimately the artificial intelligence, and machines learning from machines…that’s going to decrease some of this load that we’re all putting on ourselves and the expectation to constantly be connected,” he said.