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edition 10 (214)
October 2016
Office & mixed-use development

The whole world in an app

The latest mobile applications for the managers and tenants of office buildings

Anna Pakulniewicz

The whole world in an app
The app for Skanska’s Corso Court building in Prague contains an almost unimaginable amount of information

The developers and owners of office buildings are increasingly utilising smart-phone apps to support their tenant service and their work, including the guest service. These apps may also help to attract potential tenants

According to its owner, the Warsaw Financial Center is the first Polish office building with a mobile application dedicated to its tenants. The application has been operating since mid-2013. It serves as a communication channel between the tenants and the owner and management of the building, while those working in or visiting the WFC can use it to obtain information about the building. It includes an up-to-date list of tenants, the most important phone numbers and the addresses of retailers and services operating nearby. Selected restaurants and cafés located nearby can offer discounts to WFC tenants if they produce the downloaded application. “Last year we carried out a promotional campaign in which those who took part received a code hidden in news feeds appearing in the app, enabling the download of a free audio-book from the Audioteka.pl website,” reveals Artur Lis, who is responsible for portfolio and asset management at Tristan Capital Partners, the group that owns the building.

The modernisation and rebranding of Warsaw Trade Tower was followed by the launch of the WTT app. “The app enables you to book a conference hall on the 35th floor and to check the menu in the canteen, and so on,” says Sebastian Świstak, a senior associate in the office department at Colliers International. “This is an extra on top of the whole package of services available in the building. Currently, in this so called tenant market you have to offer all kinds of facilities and novelties to enhance a building’s attractiveness,” explains Sebastian Świstak.

All you need to know just swipe away

“We are trying to meet the expectations of younger employees, who use a variety of such applications on a daily basis. This is not accompanied by higher rents or additional charges. We are committed to making the workplace functional to the maximum, both in terms of ergonomics and well-designed space, and additional modern tools to make employees’ lives easier,” explains Ewelina Kałużna, the leasing and asset management director of Skanska Property Poland. “We are already working on a concierge-based service. The service will enable employees to perform small errands, such as laundry collection or concert ticket collection, while still at work,” Ewelina Kałużna. The app in the Corso Court office building built by Skanska in Prague contains information about the building and the number of available parking spaces. You can also order a meal from the MyFood restaurant located in Corso Court, book an electric car as part of the car sharing service or hire a bike from the bike station located under the building. The app is also connected to the external company’s newsfeed providing current information on all cultural events in Prague. An event can be added to your calendar or you can order the tickets immediately. The app also searches for services in the neighbourhood, such as restaurants, cafés, bars, etc. More mundane functions involve communication with the management of the building. If something problematic occurs, you can send the picture of the problem to the management. The app is to be given additional functions and soon will allow you to book space in the patio for a company even. Now you can book a table-tennis table or a chess table and find someone to play with. The app also displays the building’s energy and water consumption, in comparison to other, traditional buildings. Corso Court has lockers where dirty laundry can be dropped and this service can also be ordered via the app. On top of all that, it can provide you with some entertainment: you can play online game with other app users. The best players win for instance, discounts in the canteen in the building. The app is also available in a limited version to local people for finding amenities and events nearby.

Around the building and the world...

One day Nanovo, a Polish company specialising in digital signage systems, came up with the idea for an application integrating all the functions of an office building. The idea was eventually implemented in the Eurocentrum building in Warsaw. The system is based on their own Signio software and can navigate you to any given place in the building (a conference room, an office, etc.), among other features. The investor wanted to make it easy for users, mainly the tenants’ visitors, to get around the complex. “Now we are in talks with the developers of other buildings, that are to be built about integrating all the systems of the office building and many additional services. For us, what is integrated in an app does not matter; we can custom it according to whatever the client needs. This could be information from external suppliers, or on the car sharing or bike hire systems,” explains Dariusz Sobczak, the president of Nanovo. The app available in Eurocentrum has benefits for both the tenants and the owners. On the way to their destination the app user can receive information about the food and retail outlets in the building. Special offers from advertisers can be displayed on the app user’s smart-phone – and the owner of the building can take a share of such advertisers’ profits. The tenants, in turn, are happy to receive information provided by the system. In another building where Nanovo’s system has been implemented, in Bolero Office Point, a user can check if there is traffic jam around the building as well as rail timetables. The system also makes it easy to order a taxi. A system of monitors – digital signage – has been installed in both projects to support the use of the application, to make visitors to the building feel almost as thought they are being led by the hand.

An aid for the imagination

An app for planned Mennica Legacy Tower in Warsaw has been created by Workroom Group. This tool is designed to support the leasing process for in the project, by providing an almost life-like image of the complex. “The 3D layout of the floors allows potential tenants to confirm their choice of premises or after to this to choose the interior layout of the offices at an initial stage,” claims Paweł Kłosiński, the leasing director of Golub GetHouse, the investor and developer of Mennica Legacy Tower. The mobile app contains key information about the building, as well as a virtual version of it with panoramic views of the communal areas and facilities available. All of this can be experienced through VR goggles, a mobile app for phones and tablets or by viewing the large 80” screen in the showroom of the project. Workroomhas produced another app for Golub GetHouse, apart from the already mentioned one, which shares the project’s name. They have also created Mennica Legacy Tower 360°, featuring virtual panoramas with a narrator, using cardboard smartphone head-mounts. When moving through the panoramas, the viewer can learn about the building, the lobby and the offices and see the view from the terraces and the street. They can listen to the guide describing every section in detail through the headphones. The company claims that this is the first combination of virtual reality and virtual sound in Poland available to the public in an app for the real estate market. The Mennica Legacy Tower and Mennica Legacy Tower 360° apps are available from App Store and Google Play – as is the app for the nearby Proximo building developed by Hines. This has been designed to improve the presentation of the building, which opened in June 2016, for the market. The app is available in two language versions, one including a presentation of the most important parameters of the building: its technical data, projections, visualisations, information about the architects and Hines’ portfolio, among other things. It also contains a 360° solid of revolution for viewing the building from all sides. In addition to this, the app has employee-related functions, such as a multi-media map of the infrastructure and services in the neighbourhood and an augmented reality (AR) view of the building, displaying its distance from other buildings, the roundabout, the entrance to the underground, and so on.

Workroom Group has also prepared a mobile app for the planned Soul office building in Lublin. “You can go for a virtual walk using the app for phones, tablets or laptops using special glasses. This technology will make us feel as if we are visiting the ready office in real time, with real views from the windows,” explains Andrzej Horoch, the president of Workroom Group. “The investor chose our application mainly to speed up the sale of the space in the building. The app supports the work of people responsible for the lease of space and marketing. It was used to display the building during the project’s presentation ceremony, which took place in a theatre in Lublin,” relates Darek Stachowiak, a partner and development director at Workroom Group. He admits, however, that Workroom’s apps are mainly designed for professional use.

Big Brother is watching you

Applications also enable us to monitor offices via remote control, both in terms of energy consumption and security (a function for management), and to control their functions, for instance, during a conference, when a few systems have to be synchronised (a function for tenants). “Wireless automation allows the remote monitoring, for instance, smoke, fume, movement and flood detectors, a smart switch for electrical appliances with power consumption meters, and a sensor for monitoring the opening and closing of windows and doors. The system also gives you control of the blinds, lighting, audio systems and air-conditioning; and you can also check the view from monitoring cameras using the application. The option to create ready scenarios comes in handy during conferences, avoiding the need to adjust every device separately,” explains Rafał Ciszewski, the business customer service and developer market manager at Poznań-based smart building systems company Fibaro. The ‘smart offices’ that Fibaro creates are both implemented and monitored via a mobile app, and so can be a solution for already existing buildings or the existing premises of a specific tenant.

Let there be the light

An app may also be designed for a specific function. LiveLink, a lighting management system by Trilux, is one such product for building managers. Draftel-eko, which finances eco-friendly solutions for companies and public administration, had this system installed for its design studio. LiveLink is an application which for light automation, optimised lamp management and the maximum advantages resulting from replacing them with a simple, graphic interface. LiveLink contains functions for various rooms, making it possible to choose the optimised light parameters for a given space with a few clicks. According to its producer, LiveLink can perform 80 pct of the tasks of light control systems. As far as other cases are concerned, it is possible to create, individually or in cooperation with Trilux Polska, individual systems for a specific building. Its configuration and addition to specific groups linked to the Dali lighting control system is done by dragging their icons across the tablet or smart-phone screen. Once set, the parameters can be freely modified later, for instance, when a specific room is used in a different way than before. “LiveLink is the result of cooperation between experts at Trilux Group and specialists at Steinel, which provides technology for LMS sensors. The system enables the optimal adjustment of light parameters to the situation in the room, based on completely new principles. The key is the maximum simplification of light management and making it possible for it to be optimised for everyone, regardless of whether they are IT literate,” claims Maciej Gronert, a lighting designer at Trilux Polska. “All the parts of the system are perfectly compatible and its servicing does not require specialist knowledge or additional equipment. A tablet or a smart-phone with the LiveLink app installed is enough,” he adds.

24/7

A growing number of customers are now requiring management systems that can be operated in an instant, at any time, and not necessarily during working hours. This applies to every possible activity carried out in the building. And the latest research shows that the majority of people prefer virtual reality to contact with a human being. Since these applications are designed as a single service that makes life easier for tenants, and could potentially be used to do much more than controlling the lighting, such as hiring a bike from a bike station, (e.g. Bike2Box in Hines building’), or using the car pooling service offered by Adgar, among others. We can only look forward to the future benefits they bring.

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