Three ways the
Internet of Things
can transform
government real

The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and new digital tools are transforming how government organizations plan and manage their facilities.

If you’re seeking ways to boost data-driven decision-making in your organization, consider which data sources you may not be leveraging to their full extent. 

Technology is pervasive in just about every aspect of life and work today, and real estate is no exception. The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and new digital tools are transforming how organizations plan and manage their facilities. Through connected devices and the real-time data they generate, government organizations can automate facilities management (FM), improve building efficiency, boost productivity and optimize the human experience in the workplace.

Private sector companies have been among the early adopters of IoT solutions in the workplace and have learned many lessons along their digital transformation journeys. Government real estate leaders can benefit from the same technology that private sector organizations are using to unlock efficiencies and enhance the workplace experience.

The possibilities for technology to transform real estate are endless. Following are three ways government leaders can seize the power of the IoT and related technologies.

1. Increase efficiency with data-driven decisions

Real estate and FM leaders no longer have to make decisions based on intuition alone. Nor do you need to spend countless hours manually compiling information into monthly reports that give a purely historical view. Today’s data and analytical tools allow executives to leverage real-time, quantitative information to accelerate the decision-making process and ultimately produce better outcomes. The key is to be able to effectively capture, aggregate and analyze all that data.

There’s no shortage of sources generating data in modern workplaces. From IoT-connected sensors and employee badges to integrated workplace management systems and workplace apps, technology allows us to capture endless data about our buildings.

If you’re seeking ways to boost data-driven decision-making in your organization, consider which data sources you may not be leveraging to their full extent. For example, many public sector entities embrace work order management systems, yet sometimes miss the opportunity to harness the data that goes into those systems. By analyzing contractor and service provider data, for example, you can uncover opportunities to drive more efficiency and better contracts.

Data governance is critical to ensuring data can be trusted.

Whatever the source, data governance is critical to ensuring data can be trusted. It’s essential to have a process for organizing and normalizing information, and making it available for other operations to use. That step is key to getting to the next stage: analytics, insights and predictions.

Data is only useful if it is analyzed and clearly presented. An FM dashboard can provide work order statuses, emergency work orders, costs and more—all on single screen, giving you a handle on all the important information about your real estate portfolio.

The next generation of business intelligence platforms are using artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically transform analysis into actionable insights. For example, a modern building management system might alert you—in simple language—that energy costs at a particular site are 20% higher than at other sites. Taking a step further, the alert could suggest possible causes and actions that could be taken in response.

The benefits are clear. With today’s technology, busy executives can have the insights they need at their fingertips to make faster, better decisions and streamline their operations. And, improving efficiency is only the tip of the iceberg.

2. Simplify the workday and win the war for talent

One of the top priorities for real estate executives in the private sector today is improving the human experience in the workplace. At the heart of this focus is the understanding that a productive, supportive workplace keeps employees satisfied—and happy employees are more likely to stay with the organization for the long term.

Today’s technology offers many ways to improve the workplace experience, and it’s especially critical for recruiting the digital natives of the millennial generation, who are accustomed to using technology in every aspect of their lives. In defense and government hiring, the opportunity to apply data-driven strategy and use sophisticated analytical processes can help inspire prospective employees.

A workplace experience app offers one way to streamline everyday workplace tasks. Through a single mobile app, employees can book a conference room, pay for parking, turn the lights on, vote on temperature, order catering and much more. And employees and visitors alike can benefit from wayfinding technology incorporated into an app to make it easier to navigate an unfamiliar site.

As you explore ways to improve the government employee experience, it’s useful to think through a typical day in the life of an employee, and all the ways in which they interact with the space around them. This exercise will likely uncover many daily challenges that can be solved with technology. For example, a workplace app can give employees a simple way to report an issue to the FM team, from a lack of towels in restroom to a spill in the cafeteria.

3. Optimize your real estate portfolio

Organizations today are able to glean a much deeper understanding of how space is being utilized than executives even thought possible five years ago. That insight ultimately can help you make more informed decisions on how to right-size you real estate portfolio.

There’s a compelling reason to prioritize portfolio optimization: Research indicates that underutilized space costs the private sector approximately $30 billion per year. Government organizations, too, often have significant space that is being underutilized. That’s why some government real estate executives are asking questions such as: Who uses the space? How can we repurpose that empty building? Technology helps us answer these questions.

The combination of IoT connected devices and advanced analytical tools enables real estate teams to discover how many people visit their buildings and when; which areas of a building may be underutilized; and where there are opportunities to optimize the portfolio. Government agencies often have privacy and security concerns associated with collecting such utilization data. It’s important to understand that many data collection methods, such as analyzing room reservation data and using wireless sensors to track occupancy, are very secure. It’s possible to collect extremely useful data without transmitting any personally identifiable information or opening the network to a cybersecurity breach.

In federal government agencies, real estate portfolios often encompass much more than traditional office space. While the metrics used to measure the utilization of a firearm range or aircraft hangar may be different from the metrics used to track usage of a building full of cubicles and conference rooms, the end goal is the same—to understand how space is being used today, so you can use it more efficiently and effectively tomorrow. 

A clear digital strategy is critical to ensure that your technology investments produce the desired return.

A clear digital strategy is key to success

The opportunities to leverage new technologies and systems are practically endless. By investing in the right tools—and the people to implement them—you can positively impact areas as diverse as energy management, employee experience, lease accounting and portfolio management.

A clear digital strategy is critical to ensure that your technology investments produce the desired return. Your strategy should include a transformation roadmap; selective methodology for compiling trusted data; workflow-driven solutions; and analytics to uncover trends and actionable insights.

A strategic approach ensures that you are not investing in technology simply for the sake of technology, but that your investments are targeted to reach the ultimate goal: a more efficient, optimized and experience-driven real estate portfolio that enables you to more effectively serve your mission and constituents.