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Atlanta — May 16, 2016 — Beacons, electronic devices that can be as small as a cookie, are infiltrating everyday life and demonstrating important ramifications for corporate real estate professionals.
Beacons emit signals via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) several times per minute that are captured by smart phones and other devices in close range. In a retail application, for example, once a beacon recognizes a specific customer through an enabled smartphone app, it can push out discounts and other promotions based on past shopping patterns and purchases.
In corporate real estate, beacons are being implemented as a companion piece to the development of smart buildings in a variety of applications.
An office populated with smartphones and outfitted with proximity beacons and other sensors can deliver highly accurate occupancy information. Sensors can measure environmental data, such as body temperature and vibration to detect human presence. This data can help pinpoint peak time use and favored workplace settings and resources. Coupled with a dashboard and a digital floor plan, real-time and historical data can be visualized to show how space is being used.
Beacons can also identify open meeting rooms, locate employees, and track missing equipment.
Beacons enhance the tenant experience. For example, tenants enter a building and the office computer and lights are activated, HVAC is set to the preferred temperature, and the coffee machine is triggered. Through beacon technology and context awareness, these features can be implemented into building automation systems to improve the users’ experience.
Beacons can provide immediate updates to people quietly and securely on the one device that most have with them at any given moment — their smartphones. Providing updated information and escape routes can prove to be invaluable. Beacons can also send the location of individuals to emergency personnel to let responders know where people are located in rescue and recovery efforts.
“The actual or perceived threat of invasion of privacy is a very real issue surrounding beacons and micro-location enabling services,” said Craig Van Pelt, CoreNet Global’s director of knowledge community research and the author of the study. “Although the technology is intended to provide efficiencies and increased safety, there are scenarios, such as tracking employee locations, which may be considered intrusive.”
Van Pelt said users of beacon technology would be able to opt in or opt out of the service on their Bluetooth-enabled device.
And, while adoption of this service will have to be widely used and generally accepted for the technology to reach its full potential, Van Pelt said there is a great possibility that beacons could be a game changer in corporate real estate.
CoreNet Global is the world’s leading professional association for corporate real estate (CRE) executives with strategic responsibility for the real property used by multinational corporations for their own operations. For more information, visit www.corenetglobal.org.