Skip to main content

PropTech and the pandemic: How IoT has helped companies weather Covid

Tess Van Thielen spoke at the 2021 IoT PropTech Summit on the rapid adoption of connected technologies and customers' changing expectations over the last two years

people in an office setting

The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the landscape across almost every industry. Real estate is certainly no exception. From changes in the way commercial buildings are being used to the rapid acceleration of employees working from home, property owners, building managers and tenants have had to change the way they do business—and do it in a hurry.

But a technological champion has arisen to help companies through these turbulent times: the Internet of Things (IoT). Low-cost sensors, edge computing and the growth of 5G have helped cities and building owners efficiently automate more processes and keep operations running smoothly amid the chaos.

This was the subject of Disruption and Opportunity: How the Past Two Years Have Transformed Our IoT Appetite, a panel at the 2021 IoT PropTech Summit hosted by Eddy Solutions last fall. Among the panelists was Tess Van Thielen, Vice-President, Advanced Services Portfolio with Rogers for Business, who shared insights on how the pandemic has sped up IoT adoption in the world of property technology and what we can expect moving forward. Here are three highlights from the discussion.

A revolution built on rapid transformation

One potential silver lining of the pandemic is that it has compelled many companies to overcome their fear of technological evolution. Businesses were forced to adapt in order to survive, which opened the door for further implementation of IoT-based automation.

"Businesses now see what IoT can drive in terms of operational efficiencies," said Tess while discussing the upshot of companies using technology to drive a remote workforce. "They're seeing the benefits for customers and staff that come with automating certain processes. And now they're excited about technology transformation and willing to move very quickly."

Specific to the property technology space, building owners and managers are looking to satisfy new expectations from tenants and customers. They want the flexibility to quickly adapt to developing standards in safety and security that are important to their clients.

"People want to know that air quality is being monitored," Tess said. "They want to know that space is being monitored so that there isn't a crowd of people that might potentially put them in danger. They're looking for assurances from employers and the businesses they frequent as customers. And all of these challenges can be solved with technology."   

5G arrived at the right time

Prior to COVID, national network usage grew at a fairly predictable 10 to 12 per cent each year, said Tess. During the pandemic that number jumped to 40 per cent. Part of this growth can be attributed to companies implementing IoT-driven solutions that require a large amount of guaranteed bandwidth.

"We're seeing companies that want to buy fully managed services and solutions, with a focus on privacy and security," said Tess. "This transformation has led to a significant shift in the market, and in particular we're seeing companies adopting wireless private networks that can support a multitude of devices safely and securely."

The spike in traffic during the pandemic brought some countries' networks dangerously close to collapsing, said Tess, but Canadian telecoms were able to support this rapid growth, in part, because of the recent adoption of robust new network technologies—including the Rogers 5G network, which is particularly well suited to handle new and emerging IoT business solutions.

IoT beyond the pandemic

The rush to embrace IoT solutions during the pandemic has pushed connected technologies forward so quickly that it's impossible to predict what new business innovations may be waiting around the corner, said Tess.

"I'm thinking about the new types of sensors that are being implemented in various places and wondering: What is all this data going to make available for us?" she said. "There's so much that's going to be developed and innovated upon in the next few years. People will think about what can be done with this piece of data, that bit of functionality, or this new service. I know somebody will find something exciting and it will provide significant value."

Not long ago no one had imagined something like Eddy's IoT-powered water monitoring and leak detection solution, which has quickly become a vital part of many new smart building projects in just a few short years. What will the next IoT innovation in PropTech be? 

"The impact of IoT on business—and society—will be very powerful in the coming years."

Learn more about how Rogers has teamed up with leading IoT companies to provide solutions to Canadian businesses on the Rogers Business Blog. Contact a Rogers for Business representative to find out how we can help your organization become part of the property technology revolution.