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When an IP address is as important as a street address

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Once a vision for the future, intelligent buildings are now a reality. Buildings that offer next generation technologies have a competitive edge in today's leasing market. More and more, tenants are shopping around to see if the building next door might offer technology that their current office space does not. In order to retain and attract tenants, owners and managers of commercial high-rises are working to integrate an array of new and innovative technologies into their building infrastructure.

"Sentre Partners' objective is to add technology and purpose to real estate," said Rob Jones, building manager of One America Plaza. "This ultimately adds value for both the building owners and tenants. Bandwidth, which measures the amount of data that can be transmitted over a network at any given time, is a utility in today's business environment. As with other utilities, such as electricity and water, it is hard to imagine conducting business today without the free flow of data via the Internet."

One America Plaza

According to Jones, One America Plaza was the first office building in the country to install a wireless network from top to bottom. The building received Centrino certification through Intel for enabling occupants to become truly mobile. This amenity gives all tenants, clients and visitors the ability to access their e-mail or virtual private network, otherwise known as a VPN, from anywhere in the building. This provides tenants with unlimited flexibility and greatly enhances productivity.

Wireless systems can also be used to enhance the ability to provide services to tenants. Building engineers can take advantage of wireless technology by carrying tablet PCs and PDAs with them while they work. Work orders from the Web-based tenant services system are instantly dispatched to the tablet PCs and PDAs devices.

"Not only does using wireless technology improve response time for service requests, but it also gives engineers the ability to close out work orders while they are waiting for an elevator," Jones said. "This enables staff to spend more time completing tasks and less time completing paperwork. Security personnel are also able to use the wireless system to pull up remote cameras or visitor lists on PDAs while making rounds."

Southwest Value Partners is preparing to launch and test TSRPlus, a new system for receiving and processing service requests, at Golden Eagle Plaza. TSRPlus is an automated office system, which sends tenant work orders to an engineer or technician via wireless handheld devices or e-mail. The program automatically sorts tenant requests into predetermined categories and routes the request to the appropriate service technician or engineer.

"With the launch of TSRPlus, tenants will enjoy faster, more efficient turnaround time for requests," said Ed Muna of Southwest Value Partners. "If the test program is a success, we look forward to bringing it to Comerica Bank Building and Emerald Plaza."

With a standardized broadband infrastructure in place, property managers are able to reduce costs by aggregating bandwidth, automating IT, integrating building systems and providing WiFi to all their tenants. A common building network can reduce the amount of servers and phone systems to just one for the entire building, all the while maintaining the privacy of each company's information and minimizing both burden and cost on the property manager and tenants. Soon companies are going to expect these amenities and property owners may miss out on leasing opportunities because of technologically outdated buildings.

Next generation building technology is not a question of if, but when. As quickly as the Internet has changed our lives, new technologies will evolve and preparing buildings to be compatible with the new technologies is of the utmost importance. The only way to keep up with evolving technology is to stay one step ahead.

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