Office Lobbies Are Going Contactless Because of Covid

After September. 11, many U.S. The lobby of the office building changed permanently as homeowners increased security, adding cameras, turnstiles, programmable elevators and other technical equipment. The identities of those who entered were required, and the guards noted who came and went.

Now, as epidemic controls loosen and workers begin to return to the office, the lobby is changing again, this time with an emphasis on health and safety. But the changes are subtle, and are primarily intended to ease the flow on the turnstile.

Most notably, building security or mobile applications connected to the operating system are changing the plastic ID badge for workers and the check-in process for visitors. The goal is to digitally connect anyone entering the building by reducing direct contact. Body scanners and air sensors are expected to become more popular in the future.

Unlike the world’s additional post-9/11 security measures, which were simple to look at, the recent changes are largely unnoticed, said Jગેrgen Tipperman, president of Carrier Global’s Fire and Security, a Palm-based building operating systems provider. Beach Gardens, Fla.

“With these applications, we have all the information a person needs before they can get into the building,” he said. “So the days when someone sits behind a desk with a big book and pen are over.”

Building apps allow users to upload identification and other credentials, such as their vaccine status, and give employees or visitors the flexibility to add functions such as a health questionnaire to be pre-screened before their arrival. Apps can also track users across the building, helping companies make more efficient use of space or close areas to reduce occupancy.

Vendors are as tight as the homeowners who have installed a building system when it comes to how much it costs. One problem, they say, is that the price varies depending on the size and layout of the building and the number of people on the system, sensors and functions.

Behind-the-scenes overhauls of security systems are also seen in office buildings and universities. Students and teachers at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Substate New York, for example, use the carrier system for mobile access to campus buildings.

New York-based developer Silverstein Properties has introduced a contactless entry system for tenants at the 7th World Trade Center in Manhattan that allows employees to badge the uses stored in Apple Wallet to gain access to office and convenience spaces. And in Deutsche Bank’s new offices at the former Time Warner Center, vaccination status is loaded on the employee badge for admission through its turnstile, he said.

In August, Rubenstein Partners unveiled HqO, a platform and app providing building operating systems, in a 500,000-square-foot office building called 25 Kent in Brooklyn, about 16 months after it opened. Rubenstein decided to use the technology in new developments before the epidemic, but the desire to create a contactless entry accelerated over time.

“In the past, when someone visited the office, you handed over your ID to a security person. But with Covid, distance has become a concern, “said Salvatore Drago, director of property management for Philadelphia-based Rubenstein. “Now you can pre-register and your phone opens the door to the turnstile or elevator. It gives us more control over who comes into the building. “

In addition to apps, permanent but discreet temperatures and body scanners and air sensors may become more common in the lobby and elsewhere, especially if other airborne viruses or more coronavirus variants come out.

As property managers continue to redesign the office lobby, tenants and visitors can also expect a “concier feel” in addition to basic security, Mr. Music, HVAC fragrance diffusers, art and other experimental elements have become more common, Drago said.

And those plexiglass dividers? “I don’t think they’re there for good,” he added. “We don’t want them to stay longer.

Technology continues to move to automate manual processes across industries. But in commercial real estate, borrowing ideas from hotel lobbies is also part of the trend to create a more hospitable and inviting environment, said Lenny Boudoin, who oversees workplace, design and occupancy for CBRE, such as seating lounges and seating areas. Commercial Real Estate Brokerage Firm. CBRE has also developed an application for hosts, tenants and landlords and other digital building operating solutions.

Sandeep Dave, CBRE’s chief digital and technology officer, said: “What the landlords are offering in the lobby is largely a response to what tenants want and ultimately a more connected experience.” “The focus now is on the conversion of functions on smartphones that will provide a contactless experience and encourage people to return to work and return safely.”

James Scott, lead researcher at the Real Estate Innovation Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the epidemic has increased interest in non-contact solutions.

“In the light of Covid, the adoption of new technology and its implementation became extremely important,” he said. “The adoption rate has accelerated from anywhere in three to five years.”

In a global survey of 2021, about two-thirds of the 250 IFS said they had adopted a mobile identity card to control building access or planned in the next two years, according to EC Global, the International Safety and Fire Safety News and the conference organization in London. .

Despite the urgency posed by the epidemic, some homeowners and property managers are still considering how to best strengthen the safety and security of their lobby.

Complex matters are the lack of a unified system. The field of creating software solutions remains fragmented, with many property technology companies competing. And the capabilities are still being explored. For example, applications have been developed to automatically call an elevator when a person enters a building, but technology providers have yet to roll out this feature significantly, Mr. Said Scott.

The same is true for the deployment of automatic temperature scanners, he added. In many cases, transient temperature-taking stations disappeared before the omicron variant of the coronavirus was caught in 2021.

“Once an epidemic loses its vapor, such temporary measures collect dust in the storage room unless it is integrated into the structure of the building management system,” Mr. Said Scott.

Costs are also a consideration, especially in older buildings, said WA Watts IV, president of the Institute of Real Estate Management, an international organization for property and asset managers.

For example, a project to retrofit an 18-year-old, 25,000-square-foot building in Birmingham, Ala., Costs about $ 5 per square foot just to install base infrastructure, Mr. said. Watts, which goes through the chip. He and other industry observers question whether even low-density suburban offices in smaller markets need to establish such intensive security and safety measures.

But technological innovation is on its way, says Don M., founder and broker of Donning Real Estate. Carpenter said those who operate about 5 million square feet of commercial real estate in New York.

In its 200,000-square-foot office building on Staten Island, security guards at the lobby desk still call tenants when visitors arrive, Ms. Said the carpenter. Guests then wait until an elevator takes them down to pick them up. After Omicron was hit, however, no visitors were allowed.

“Adding a building operating system is a big capital cost, and the owners have to buy into it,” she said. “There’s not one in this building yet, but it will come.”

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