We Have A Wi-Fi And Digital Infrastructure Problem: What Do We Do?

Digital infrastructure and Wi-Fi at most apartment communities aren’t built to withstand the connectivity and cyber security needs necessary

Digital infrastructure and Wi-Fi at most apartment communities aren’t built to withstand the connectivity and cyber security needs necessary to support the influx of new technologies that are now the core of modern multifamily operations.

By Andrew Ruhland

 The multifamily industry is becoming increasingly digitized, and operators have no choice but to get on board. The resident experience depends on it. We’ve seen the emergence of tech-centric features such as centralized leasing, smart access controls, self-guided tours and the internet of things (IoT), all of which have completely modernized the apartment leasing and living experience.

However, a number of operators are still missing one critical element – a reliable foundation.

Simply put, many apartment communities can’t modernize the living and leasing experience because they don’t have a connectivity foundation to do so. This means that IT infrastructures at most apartment communities aren’t built to withstand the connectivity and cyber security needs necessary to support the influx of new technologies that are now the core of modern operations.

Residents and associates alike are inconvenienced when their Wi-Fi connection drops. In addition to the normal annoyances of losing a signal – dropped calls or paused streaming – it causes the inability to use crucial smart-home features that keep apartment life humming.

Even operational tools like mobile maintenance and virtual leasing count on a strong foundation. When vital amenities or software lose connection due to inadequate Wi-Fi access, satisfaction tanks for everybody living and working at a property. In an era of instant communication and the need to be connected, operators are having to reimagine their IT infrastructure from the ground up.

In order to help operators better understand the connectivity foundation and how it resolves connectivity issues, it’s best to go back to the basics.

Laying the groundwork

Akin to constructing a home and ensuring the right foundation to build upon is in place, apartment communities must lay the proper groundwork to support seamless, community-wide Wi-Fi connectivity.

If the foundation is shaky, it’ll only be a matter of time before Wi-Fi issues disrupt operations and affect both resident and associate satisfaction.

Opposed to traditional internet service connections, a connectivity foundation seamlessly integrates into an infrastructure and offers connectivity support that reaches the entire community. Fiber-based mesh networking technology, like DPSK, delivers a secure Wi-Fi connection via dedicated fiber connectivity that spans every inch of a property.

In order for any Wi-Fi-dependent components of a community to properly function, the digital framework is the most integral piece of the puzzle. From proptech tools supporting operational tasks to the countless smart-home features appearing at communities across the country, uninterrupted connectivity depends on a sturdy foundation.

“Across our portfolio, nearly every aspect of a community’s daily functions, smart building and home management, prospect and customer experience, as well as community amenities rely on having a stable/reliable Wi-Fi connection,” said Amy Chien, director of strategic innovations at BH Management.

“Prospective residents are looking for cellular strength and internet reliability among their top features needed in their home. Residents were regularly complaining about poor cell-phone connectivity and dropped Wi-Fi signals before we brought on a managed Wi-Fi provider. Our onsite teams were experiencing difficulty executing things like work orders and effective communication. After trying various ways to remedy the problem, we realized it wasn’t a technology or user-error issue, we needed a stronger foundation to achieve end-to-end connectivity.”

Wi-Fi isn’t enough

Although Wi-Fi services do offer connectivity benefits for many properties, a foundation is a physical hard-wired component of the Wi-Fi experience that truly enhances a community’s tech stack.

Due to its forward-thinking mechanics and ability to evolve with new technology and adapt to each community’s individual needs, a strong digital infrastructure adds tremendous value to a property.

“Offering property-wide Wi-Fi enhances the prospect and resident experience, and fast, reliable internet connection through a managed IP is a fundamental need due to the use and demand of the residents we serve,” Chien said. “It ensures that all our proptech, from mobile maintenance to automation, functions efficiently and effectively. Just like the innovations and tools it keeps running, community-wide connectivity adds immense value to our communities.”

Asset Value

From the perspective of the resident, a strong connectivity foundation is of great value. They gain the ability to be on their network no matter where they’re located in the community – in the hallways, parking garages, the gym and all of the common spaces on a property.

Looking at it from an investor and operator perspective, renters want to live in communities that can guarantee a reliable Wi-Fi connection; by delivering a foundation that supports that, residents are more likely to renew their lease agreement when the time comes.

“A strong foundation for connectivity is the basis for all operations,” said Jeffrey Kok, CEO of Aerwave. “It is the enabling technology that lets you do all of the initiatives that drive value for communities. It supports modern amenities and countless operational tools. Once you have it in place, the improvement is immediate and evident in both resident-associate satisfaction and NOI.”

As an extension of smart amenities modern communities encompass in day-to-day operations, a connectivity foundation streamlines the Wi-Fi experience for both owners and residents. Technology is getting increasingly sophisticated and it is more important than ever for operators to ensure community networks are operating optimally.

“Modern residents and onsite teams crave connectivity that they can depend on, and we aim to deliver that,” Chien said. “To build a great community, you need solid infrastructure, which begins with your connectivity foundation. It supports the modern community and will future-proof our investments in technology. This service is not only a vital part of our operations but provides the necessary support to fully thrive and keep all features in our ecosystem up and running.”

About the author:

Andrew Ruhland is an account executive and content writer for LinnellTaylor Marketing, which focuses exclusively on the rental housing industry, its trends and technology innovations.

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