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Eye on the Future: The next frontier in managing Dubai’s real estate portfolio


By Nivedha Sridhar, Director - Content & Growth Marketing, Facilio Inc.


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December 10, 2019 Nivedha Sridhar
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Eye on the Future: The next frontier in managing Dubai’s real estate portfolio

Talk to any commercial real estate owner in Dubai or across the globe, and chances are their primary concern is maximizing revenue through high occupancy rates and optimal operations, at a time of tough competition, stricter laws and more regulations. One of the ways CRE owners can achieve optimal ROI is by identifying specific trends in tenant searches and ensuring that buildings include features that are being preferred. But the other more strategic inputs are required post handover – during the management of a built asset. CRE owners can benefit by gaining 360-intelligence into how a commercial space is being used, and mapping it to its maintenance and management. This can help rationalize allocation of expenditure and workforce, optimize operational efficiency spend, and eventually enable a delightful tenant experience.

IoT and Artificial Intelligence have been the two recent technology tools revolutionizing how CRE owners can get access to all this information. Now a new variation on AI, visual intelligence, could empower data-driven insights and decision-making to an exponential level. By being able to mimic our capacity to interpret the world using visual cues, Visual AI can interpret information rich visual data, and derive intelligent insights. As applications for the technology emerge, it’s becoming clear that some of its most transformative effects will be on our built environment – our working and living spaces.

Dubai ahead of the curve in early adoption of AI applications

Globally, the retail industry has been at the forefront of using this technology. Industry leaders, including Uniqlo, Sephora, and Walmart have taken the lead in utilizing visual cues AI based visual searches. Brick and mortar physical stores are offering shoppers Visual AI driven personalized attention, which ecommerce can’t match. Much like the services a personal stylist offered in the past, the technology matches products in the store’s inventory to a customer’s physical attributes and style preferences. From identifying the perfect set of sunglasses to the final accessory that makes your living room come alive, the possibilities are endless.

In the context of Dubai, Visual AI is already being looked at from a wider perspective, including public services and conveniences. With its enthusiasm for unique infrastructure and cutting edge technologies, Dubai is leading the world in the deployment of Artificial Intelligence (1) . From driverless transport to industrial applications, the Emirati metropolis is raising the bar in embracing this future-ready digital solution. Close by, in the Emirati capital, the recently launched Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) , located in Masdar City Abu Dhabi, is the world’s first graduate-level, research-based AI university (2) . In fact, at the recent Gitex Technology Week, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) launched a prototype of the first Smart Camera for buses using facial recognition tech and machine learning to identify fare evaders!

Naturally, Dubai’s innovative and ambitious commercial real estate industry is not one to be left behind in these efforts. In fact, Visual AI promises to add even more innovation to a sector already being redefined by technology.

The likely impact in commercial real estate

A 2018 Deloitte study positioned the data gathered from building operations as the most precious resource of a commercial real estate business (3) , and Visual AI unlocks massive additional amounts. Enhancing customer experience is a major strategy to increase the profitability of a commercial real estate facility and this is yet another forte for Visual AI. A perfect example is the Dubai International Airport’s decision to deploy iris and facial recognition technology, which will allow passengers to go through security without using their travel documents (4) .

From the perspective of buying and selling real estate, linking a particular investor’s preferences to property images, by means of Visual Property Intelligence tools and Automated Valuation Models, can make property searches far more productive for both buyers and sellers. Visual input is so rich with information that some specific details and correlations are likely to be missed by even the most discerning human expert. Visual AI can ensure that no available insight is missed by a commercial real estate business, whether it relates to property valuation, identifying tenant preferences or managing the facilities effectively.

How commercial real estate owners can use the technology

For commercial real estate owners, Visual AI can help the business identify factors such as services, facilities and physical attributes being preferred by buyers and tenants, increasing the probability of their property being selected, which translates into increased revenue. But the key value proposition of Visual AI lies in its impact on the optimal management of a built environment and its facilities, a phase that accounts for nearly 70% of the expense across a buildings lifecycle. The ability to analyze and infer from visual inputs not only unlocks a lot of useful information, it also adds exponential speed to the generation of insights. Some of the top uses cases for CRE owners to benefit from visual intelligence include:

  • Using AI driven facial recognition to make surveillance more accurate and efficient - Currently, security personals have to keep monitoring screens to identify security problems, which can now be done more accurately, and efficiently, with Visual AI.
  • AI-driven access controls, using facial recognition as the key to enter premises, scheduling of meetings rooms etc.
  • Visual AI based insights-driven operational efficiency: For example, creating cleaning schedules based on footfall or adjusting HVAC loads based on headcount.

The use to which the real time input of Visual AI can be put is only limited by our imagination. As the technology becomes more robust, Visual AI is likely to become a major part of the modern and intuitive commercial built spaces that owners will deliver to their customers while achieving optimal ROI.

About the Author

Nivedha Sridhar is the Director – Content & Growth Marketing and a member of the founding team at Facilio Inc., an enterprise-wide facilities O&M software platform provider, headquartered in New York. A young professional who leads the company’s Product, Content and Growth Marketing initiatives, Nivedha is the co-creator of FutureProof, the annual ‘Modern FM Summit’, which features changemakers in commercial real estate and facilities management.  For more information please visit: www.facilio.com


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