How will big data impact office property management? NAIOP white paper tackles privacy issues, data management

by Brianna Crandall — October 19, 2018 — A new white paper published by the NAIOP Research Foundation offers insight into the usages and challenges of big data in commercial real estate (CRE), particularly in office property management, where the data’s usefulness can be used to both improve a building’s operational efficiencies and attract and retain tenants. NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, is a nationwide organization for developers, owners and related professionals in office, industrial, retail and mixed-use real estate, comprising 19,000 members in North America. The group also made available presentations and coverage of its recent FlexOffice Conference.

Office property and big data report

The study, The Office Property and Big Data Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together, is authored by Kimberly Winson-Geideman, Ph.D., University of Melbourne, Australia. It identifies some of the obstacles and opportunities associated with big data in the context of managing office properties — including privacy issues and data management — and includes examples of how property and facilities managers (FMs) are collecting and analyzing data within their office properties.

In the white paper, big data is defined as high-volume, high-variety and high-velocity information that is produced in either structured/predictable formats, such as sensor data, or unstructured formats, including pictures and text.

According to Marc Selvitelli, CAE, executive director of the NAIOP Research Foundation:

Big data provides the greatest potential — and disruption — to the office property sector. This white paper is practical for real estate professionals who are beginning to consider how they can identify big data and assess the relative value of the information they collect.

Key takeaways for big data in CRE

The study identifies these critical takeaways as deserving the attention of the real estate industry in general and the office sector in particular:

  • Big data sets are more than just big. They are dynamic and multidimensional and can be challenging to work with, but they promise to give greater insight into some of the fundamental questions of real estate more than anything has before.
  • The concept of big data is not solely about the data; it is also about the tools created to deal with the data. The collection, storage, analysis and visualization all present unique challenges that require innovative and ongoing solutions.
  • Small data is still important. Real estate markets are local: to make big data meaningful, sometimes the data need to be selected and sorted to such an extent that they are anything but big.
  • Office property managers are comfortable using nonpersonal big data to monitor and improve the performance of building systems but, in part because of privacy concerns, have not yet embraced tracking tenant movements to improve the tenant experience.
  • Landlords and tenants must approach data collection with a clear understanding of privacy laws and a great deal of transparency. Personal information should not be collected, or, at the very least, records should be anonymized. Data should be released only in the aggregate, if possible, and systems should be put in place to ensure the security of the data.
  • Big data is spurring new technologies and disciplines that affect the real estate industry. For example, blockchain technology will have an increasingly larger role in data management and property transactions. The need for job positions such as data scientists, data stewards and data visualizers will continue to grow as companies take stock of their data sets.

Download the full 32-page report, The Office Property and Big Data Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together, from the NAIOP website.

FlexOffice presentations and coverage

NAIOP and the Global Workspace Association (GWA) presented the FlexOffice 2018 conference September 12-14 in Austin, Texas. The event explored cutting-edge office trends and technologies of interest to professionals who own, operate and develop office space.

Event presentations and resources are now available on the NAIOP website, covering such topics as: building portfolios as integrated ecosystems, flexible space, WELL buildings, coworking spaces, “Office as a Service,” and more.