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IoT everywhere: Opportunities for smart technology outside of the home

The smart home market has seen compounding growth in the last five years, as more consumers reach for connected lights, locks, security and more. But smart home is just one segment of the broader IoT movement and we’re seeing connected technology beginning to proliferate in other areas, including markets like smart apartments and multi-dwelling units (MDUs), and commercial buildings such as office spaces, along with larger implementations in manufacturing. We also see the conversation around smart cities, energy, insurance, healthcare and telecommunications increasingly looking at IoT and how it will shift the way people work and do business. As the concept of smart home begins to take hold in houses around the globe, we see many parallels to communicating the value proposition of IoT to each of these verticals. However, there are also important differences that should be carefully examined and considered before making a partnership or customer pitch to stakeholders in each market vertical.

Let’s take a look at opportunities for connected technology outside of the home and key messages for each in order to capture interest, awareness and increase adoption.

MDUs, hospitality and commercial buildings

Smart apartments and connected hotel rooms are essentially just miniature implementations of smart home technology; the consumer experience might be very similar in an apartment or condominium that comes with connected devices. Yet, there are also big benefits for management — keyless entry systems can grant access to their apartment for service calls, maintenance and cleaning. In a hotel, management may provide guests with access to offices, conference rooms or secure facilities without the need for a tangible key and management saves money and resources not having to be present to let someone into a building.

Commercial buildings or MDUs are a burgeoning opportunity for IoT, where the range and capabilities of IoT sensors are increasingly more powerful, making it practical to deploy them in larger structures. Many apartment complexes and hotels now come equipped with smart locks, thermostats, lighting and other amenities.

Value proposition: Convenience and security
For operations and property management for MDUs, hospitality and commercial buildings, offering the value of added convenience can further translate into increased rental or accommodation interest from consumers while also helping manage important time and resources. Security also remains a key driver of interest in the smart home, and as consumers become more comfortable with using smart security in their homes, they’ll begin to expect the same level of convenience and protection provided by devices like connected locks, automated lighting and options for security monitoring while they travel or look to rent a smart apartment.

Energy management

According to a study from Research and Markets, the global building energy management systems industry is expected to reach $9.32 billion by 2023 — this means that more companies are investing in IoT tech in order to reach operational or financial goals. IoT-enabled sensors can deliver device data in real time and respond to the environment in which they are installed. For example, smart lighting can be configured to turn on only when it is dark outside, thus reducing the amount of energy consumed by a home’s lighting system, and thermostats can be set and monitored based on room use, occupancy, time of day and season. Homeowners may realize this on a small scale in their homes, but city skyscrapers and multifamily buildings could be saving millions on energy costs and, in turn, reducing the building’s overall energy consumption and lessen the environmental impact on cities.

Value proposition: Cost savings and sustainability
The possibility for cost-savings using IoT-enabled technology for energy management could potentially have a big impact on the bottom line of both utilities and their customers. The ability for utilities to obtain larger amounts of data through implementation of connected thermostats, meters, lighting and other applications can arm them to provide new and improved strategies that can improve budgets or operational needs. As renewable energy becomes a bigger part of the conversation, we also gain the ability for smart energy systems to connect into the electric grid and allow users to not only store their existing energy, but also sell any excessive energy back to the utility who can reallocate it to other places where power is low. With demand response systems, utilities can be more responsive and proactive about managing where the energy is being used which can help prevent blackouts and other challenging events.


The cornerstones of the insurance industry are assessment of risk and appraisal of value in the event of a loss which, until now, have worked primarily on a reactive model: a loss or accident occurred; therefore, a claim was issued. By using embedded sensors inside homes and property, the industry is evolving to a preventive model. As an example, water damage is widely reported to be the leading cause of home insurance claims. Smart plumbing can raise alerts before an event occurs, and if a pipe breaks when no one is home, a smart valve can shut off the water to minimize damage. Similarly, sensors embedded in walls or roofing will proactively report structural integrity and risk, and therefore policy cost.

Insurance providers can also — and have started to — partner with smart home companies to offer bundled incentives: A customer buys a few smart devices to monitor water usage or security, for example, and is rewarded with a discount on her premium.

Key messages: Customer engagement, retention, cost-savings
For insurance providers, partnerships with IoT and smart home companies offer the opportunity to strengthen their relationships with their customers, reduce churn and improve risk management procedures and processes, as well as establish new revenue streams to bring new customers, enticed by smart home tech, into their fold and reach new target audiences like millennials.

Smart cities

Smart cities are comprised of a wealth of different IoT sensors that are all being deployed to serve a variety of benefits, like infrastructure and traffic management. Another interesting use case is security. Just as it would in a smart home, IoT technology is already protecting both buildings and citizens in smart cities. Police and city officials in municipalities across the world are already using connected cameras, sensors and other monitoring tools to cut down on response time to emergencies or help determine the threat level of an incident to better allocate budget resources.

Key messages: Security
Because these systems live on the network, municipalities are better able to share valuable data that can assist in capturing important events. For example, Campus Safety magazine interviewed a security representative from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where they have over 1,300 video cameras installed in a single municipality, who said that the “importance of video software has not only enabled the municipality to integrate devices and systems, but also provides quicker access to community information for faster response and proactive capabilities.”

In the Z-Wave community, we’re already beginning to see lots of companies work on partnerships and products designed specifically for several of the aforementioned market verticals and applications. No matter the market vertical and application, it is clear that a strong network, enforced regulation and open standards like Z-Wave will all continue to be an important part of IoT’s growth and maturation.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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