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CRE Disruption Provides Brokers and Clients with Faster, Better Tools

Technology is disrupting the commercial real estate industry in so many ways, and that’s good news for both JLL brokers and clients

Disruption in CRE Provides Brokers and Clients with Faster, Better Tools 

Technology is all around and, while it is changing the way we work, live and play at a dizzying pace, it is well worth keeping up with its latest developments.

The fact is that technology is disrupting the commercial real estate industry in so many ways, and that’s good news for me as a broker, and for my clients. JLL’s own technologies – like IntelliCommand, ESP and Command Center -- utilize IoT sensors, big data and machine learning to improve and optimize energy costs, streamline environmental reporting and fine tune building services. And there are new technologies out there opening the door to even greater value for our clients. You just need to know where, and what to look for.

Agility enablement

One such tested technology is the use of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) scanning and cloud computing to create up-to-date, accurate floorplans of existing buildings. Real estate professionals like me know all too well how often building plans are inaccurate, outdated or simply nonexistent.

In the absence of accurate floor plans, traditionally building owners have no alternative but to chase down architects to create new plans, which often takes weeks. I was excited to learn about an alternative approach in HELIX RE, a San Mateo-based startup spun out of Google X. We had the opportunity to try the new approach with an office building in San Jose that is owned by CoreSite (NYSE: COR), a national provider of data center and interconnection solutions.

“Our sixteen-story downtown colocation center and office building had space ready for lease, but we needed up to date and accurate plans,” said Mike Durham, CoreSite Vice President and General Manager of Silicon Valley. “We wanted to empower JLL as our new partner to show the building in the best light as quickly as possible.”

Shareability  And fast

Mike and I discussed using the technology to provide accurate building plans of the available office and retail space to share with prospective tenants. Given that there was already interest in leasing the building, we needed that information fast.

Using LiDAR scanning, cloud computing and some pretty impressive software, HELIX delivers comprehensive building plans within days. HELIX Twins include a digital model with 3D previews, downloadable plans, as-built documentation and comprehensive photo walkthroughs. Not only is this information procured quickly and accurately, but it can be accessed and understood without any special software or training on laptops, mobile cells and tablets.

Within five business days, we had the plans we needed in a digital format so the prospective tenants could “share the building” with other stakeholders who were unable to make an actual site visit. Unlike superficial photo visits, the virtual experience of a HELIX Twin includes important details like the ability to measure closets necessary to house equipment, which way doors swing, and electrical outlet locations much like the intuitive experience of using Google maps to explore building exteriors. Prospective tenants can share the results with contractors to evaluate space modification options and calculate what those modifications would cost, all without leaving their offices. Desk configurations and space for amenities to optimize tenant experience can also be evaluated remotely and cost efficiently. Landlords can use the digital model to share with their contractors who can both bid and plan work in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

“We are relentless in driving down the time and expense to deliver HELIX Twins,” according to Jamie Roche, CEO of HELIX RE. “We believe the value for commercial real estate is immense. It is hard to imagine anybody communicating about buildings any other way.”

I agree. After my recent experience, I believe that having the ability to create an up-to-date, accurate floorplan of a client’s entire building in a matter of days with minimal disruption to existing tenants is an incredibly valuable tool in the technology arsenal. What’s more, solutions such as HELIX aren’t standing still. Look for new and improved uses to follow….soon! 

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