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Managed Services vs. Consumer Products

Updated: Oct 13



At Perceptive Things, we are often asked why a system like ours is preferable to the plethora of cheaper home automation products found on Amazon. The perception is that simply buying several hundred of these products and turning them over to tenants will cost significantly less. The fact of the matter is that these two solutions hardly compete at all.

Scale


The single most important difference between managed systems like Perceptive Things and consumer home security products is the ability to scale. Consumer products are designed for individual households in single-family homes, and do not consider the collective risk of high-rise living, or the way they are operated.


Consumer products' customers are generally the sole stakeholders for the entire property, and they are typically the only contacts that need to respond to an incident like a water leak. This is not true in most multi-family buildings. Resident managers, doormen, porters, building engineers, property managers, and others all participate in the response to damage-causing incidents.


Consumer products are designed for individual households in single-family homes, and do not consider the collective risk of high-rise living, or the way they are operated.

The current notification paradigm in a high-rise typically involves a tenant noticing a condition that requires attention by building management in some way. (“There’s water pouring from my ceiling!”) Delays in this notification process can lead to valuable lost time. In the case of a water leak. This process places the onus of prompt notification on the recipient of damage, who may not even be home, and is usually not even the source of the problem to begin with. Additionally, such notifications are usually only via a single channel, like a call to the front desk, which then kicks off a chain of one-to-one notifications.


Doesn’t it make the most sense to notify all stakeholders, on multiple channels (text, voice, or email) simultaneously? For this to happen with consumer products, each and every single apartment’s system will need to be correctly configured to contact the right people on the right channels. That also leads us to the availability of each apartment's system itself.



Network


There are many examples of managed services in the networking industry. A good example is a campus-wide corporate WiFi network provided by a third party vendor, like Cisco. Managed networks remove the complexity of coverage, performance optimization, and security for their customers. Few residential buildings have a dedicated IT staff to manage building technology, and if they do, they’re likely overworked.


When approaching the prospect of deploying a consumer product at the scale of a building, there are a number of IT-related issues that must be considered. Let’s take the example of a 200-unit high rise attempting to deploy a ZigBee-based product that requires a hub and multiple sensors. You must answer the following questions for each individual apartment household…


  • How will tenants be trained on the proper installation and configuration of each sensor and hub?

  • How will each hub get online? Who will deal with technical issues if the installation fails? Who will provide support?

  • Who will ensure the appropriate contacts are configured in the system? Who will maintain updated information for those contacts?

  • Who will be responsible for ensuring the hub remains online and up-to-date with security patches?

  • Is the tenant prepared to be notified in the event of an offline hub, a low sensor battery, or an inoperative sensor? Will the tenant be responsive to this need and resolve the situation in a sufficiently timely manner?

  • What happens with pied-à-terres? Who will manage each system when no one is home for months?

  • What happens when there is tenant turnover? Will the system remain in place? Will a new product need to be supplied to the new owners? How will they be trained?

  • How will adding hundreds of new wireless devices on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrums impact overall internet speeds for tenant and building WiFi networks throughout the property?


These are just the larger questions, too. Individual cases and conditions could mean tailoring dozens of solutions around the building. The result will undoubtedly lead to many holes in protection.


Our managed system yields comprehensive and reliable protection for the entire building while eliminating the substantial time and attention your staff would need to dedicate to its maintenance.

A managed system like Perceptive Things takes all of these problems off your hands. We ensure the entire building is covered by our wireless network and keep watch over its performance and maintenance. We provide internet connectivity and optimize radio performance for each and every device, without the need for WiFi or ethernet to be provided by the building or tenants. Our managed system yields comprehensive and reliable protection for the entire building while eliminating the substantial time and attention your staff would need to dedicate to its maintenance.



Maintainability and Security


The work is not over once either type of system is in place. As mentioned above, changing conditions like tenant turnover, renovations, updated network providers with new passwords, and a host of other situations means a system in flux. Plus, different technologies can require differing processes for tasks like battery changes. WiFi-based sensors will usually have a battery life of six months or less. Others, like LoRa-based sensors, can operate up to five years on a single set of batteries. In the case of a consumer product installed in our fictitious 200-unit building above, you will need to expect 200 different people to be responsible for low battery notifications, and trust each of them to install new batteries in a timely fashion, or at least make sure building management is notified when it is an issue.


The same also holds true for important security tasks, such as applying firmware updates. Managed services handle all security tasks for you and your tenants. Deploying hundreds of consumer products will require hundreds of devices to be independently secured by hundreds of individual apartment owners throughout their life.


Managed services like Perceptive Things makes these responsibilities less daunting. Security patches are maintained and handled by us. While we may not come over and change every battery for you, you can be assured that the right people will know when it's time to do so!



The Perceptive Things Advantage


The Perceptive Things platform is specifically designed for multi-family real estate properties and management professionals. We understand how buildings operate and provide service and consultation with a personalized approach. We know from experience that every building is different.


We handle many of the details, from providing all the networking hardware necessary to cover your building at no additional cost, to provisioning your sensors for your property so they are ready to go upon receipt. Our goal is to simplify what is actually a complex building-wide system of hardware and software, and support you throughout its life.


Our hardware products are all industrial-quality, built to last for years in tough environments, with commensurate low-power operation for up to five years of battery life. Our platform only uses best-in-class systems and technology providers, such as Amazon AWS, Twilio, T-Mobile, AT&T, and MultiTech.


Our goal is to simplify what is actually a complex building-wide system of hardware and software, and support you throughout its life.

Because our wireless network connects to our cloud platform through the LTE network, we provide incomparable network security since our systems never touch tenant or building networks. We have also designed the security of our administrative interface specifically for how buildings operate. We use a team-based hierarchical structure for access control and notification logic. For example, tenant users are restricted to data and notifications for their own apartments, resident managers can only access data and notifications for their own buildings, while property managers can access their entire portfolio of buildings in one single interface.


Finally, we are a New York-based company and are New Yorkers ourselves. We personally understand multi-family living. We aim to provide a proactive approach to technology-based risk mitigation, freeing staff resources and promoting a sense of stewardship for your tenants.


To choose the right tools for protecting your property, contact us today!

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Perceptive Things protects homes and businesses by reducing risk and enhancing building operations with a wireless network and sensors that is cost-effective and simple to install and use.

Copyright ©2020 by Perceptive Things, Inc.