Fifth Gen Media’s flagship publication, Connected Real Estate Magazine kicked off the Connected Real Estate Summit (CRES) as part of the 2020 ITEXPO in Fort Lauderdale, FL yesterday. The summit comprised four panels throughout the day that discussed topics of interest to any one in the CRE, wireless or technology verticals.
Digital Colony Managing Director Steven Sonnenstein opened the CRES with a keynote presentation, “The Future of Digital Assets in the 20s.” Sonnenstein’s talk covered Internet of Things (IoT), the emergence of 5G and the recent barrage of data that’s been created in the last couple of years. He shared a number of interesting facts about these topics such as there were 3.6 billion mobile Internet users in 2018—61 percent of the world’s population, and there’s a good chance that number will increase. He also noted that it would take upwards of $462 billion to be spent between 2018 and 2020 to get 5G up and running. Sonnenstein also shared a forecast that the number of connected devices in the world will triple by 2025.
The rise of IoT, and the smart devices that will connect to it, will lead to more data being created, according to Sonnenstein. Additionally, he noted that 5G will be a “catalyst for a communications industrial revolution” that could help reduce energy costs, create minimal latency and bring the number of connected devices into the trillions.
A view from the top
Wells Fargo Securities Managing Director and Senior Equity Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche moderated the “View From the Top” panel that featured Rudin Executive Vice President, COO and CTO John Gilbert, 5×5 Telecom CEO Marc Gittleman, Tavistock Group SVP Business Development and Sales Ken Discipio and Tishman Speyer Senior Director, Sustainability & Utilities Jonathan “JP” Flaherty.
Fritzsche asked the panel about topics such as maintaining relationships with carriers (the consensus was it’s imperative to maintain a positive working relationship with them), the types of technological innovations that will help tenants (wireless connectivity was a popular answer, but Flaherty recognized it’s only part of what makes a building Class A) and about the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) and 5G.
During the CBRS discussion, the panel often used some version of the term “problem solver” whether it referred to CBRS helping “smart buildings” get smarter faster or avoiding other tenants’ Wi-Fi networks. Meanwhile on the 5G side of things, Discipio noted Tavistock is gathering data through several self-driving cars and 72 percent of its residents sharing their medical records, exercise habits and wearable stats for a study.
Another notable discussion during this panel centered on tenants wanting less space. According to Gittleman, if a tenant cannot use a certain area as part of its workspace, it harms its return on investment.
“Every industry needs less space,” Gittleman said. “Law firms are giving back floors. In Texas there are oil companies that depending on what’s going on with the price of oil are giving back a floor. There are owners in Houston that have massive, empty buildings because companies are just contracting the space they’re using. It makes all the difference in the world when you talk about how to use the space.”
Smart buildings discussion
Fifth Gen Media CEO and Publisher Rich Berliner moderated the penultimate panel of the day, “Smart Buildings for Smart Real Estate Execs.” Panelists included Current Head of Global Strategic Alliance and Marketing Jim Benson, IoTium Founder and CEO Ron Victor, Join Founder and CEO Karl May and T-Mobile Senior Manager 5G Smart and Indoor Coverage Luke Lucas.
Victor stressed the importance of CRE owners taking the proper precautions to keep their networks or building’s smart devices from being hacked. He pointed to last year’s Target network hack as an example of a lapse in protection can negatively impact a brand’s reputation, credibility and bottom line. He also likened good cyber security to car or homeowners insurance—customers don’t expect to get into a car accident or for their house to catch on fire, but they buy insurance just in case. CRE owners should have the same mentality when it comes to their connected devices and network.
Meanwhile, Lucas described the in-building experience as it pertains to smart buildings as the “final frontier”. While carriers built their networks based on an outdoor basis, Lucas noted that 80 percent of cell phone traffic is generated indoors.
“To provide connectivity to that space, and then a future platform, for whatever ‘G’ we want to talk about, it’s not about a discussion of 5G today, but it’s an evolution of technology indoors and that’s truly where (T-Mobile) sees it,” Lucas said. “I don’t know what the other carriers think, but we believe that that’s a critical element of an inclusive customer experience.”
Connectivity success stories
The first day of the CRES concluded with the “Case Studies of Well Designed and Well Installed Networks” panel. Berliner also moderated this discussion that included Diamond Communications President, In-Building Site Development & Operations Jarret Bluth, ZenFi Networks VP of Business Development Walter Cannon, Aditum CEO Brian Higgins, Corning Director of Enterprise Services Art King and CTS VP of Operations Shane Rubin.
Some of the panelists’ successful case studies included creating a parking lot hot spot so truck drivers would not have to come inside to download their work orders (Corning), improving a CRE owner’s DAS so they could add multiple carries (Diamond and CTS), providing space, power and connectivity to support the PATH stations in New York City (ZenFi).
Meanwhile, Higgins noted how CRE must embrace connectivity as it has quickly moved up the list of many tenants’ priorities when selecting a building.
“(Location) is only ranking one point higher than connectivity right now (in a national survey),” he said. “It’s projected as early as 2021, but as late as 2028 that connectivity to the Internet is going to be considered more important than location to where you live and where your office is. Having that fiber connectivity into the building and a good high-speed connection and low latency is quickly becoming the most important thing to a tenant. It already ranks higher than having a kitchen or having a washer and dryer inside your apartment.”
The Connected Real Estate Summit continues today covering CBRS, public safety, cyber security, 5G and keynote presentations by Rudin Management COO and CTO John Gilbert and WeWork Vice President and Global Lead for Smart Buildings and Digital Workplace Darlene Pope.