Is sustainable tech adoption actually possible?

2 October 2023

There was a real buzz at this year’s RESi360 conference in London and, as key partners of the event, I was proud to have led the inaugural Locale Hackathon: How to make tech adoption more sustainable. But what is a hackathon? To bridge the gap between real estate and tech, we asked audience members to answer three big questions and I was joined by fellow panellists Debra Yudolph from SAY Property Consulting and Chenai Gondo from Hestia.53198169357_bee59ba6ef_c

We begin with focusing on the modern resident and their expectations. An overwhelming 79% of the audience said that real estate tech does meet resident expectations and I’m inclined to agree. In an age where most of our lives are tech dependent, residents nowadays expect seamless tech that enhances their living experience – everything from a package delivery system and concierge facilitating access control to a secure key fob system and helpdesk to report maintenance problems. Crucially, they want a simple, easy-to-use system to utilise them all. As Chenai said in the panel in response to the 21% who voted ‘no’, the focus should not be on the tech itself and the minutia of how it all works. Instead, people should look at the use cases and how many problems tech can solve and how many hours it can save the teams on the ground. Moreover, real estate technology has the power to deliver efficiencies saving money for businesses. It should not just be about an individual building or a team, but how these efficiencies impact the business.

We also discussed the power and pitfalls of data. Building experiences differ for residents and landlords which means different sets of data are required. Just think about who really needs to know what the smart metre or ring doorbell is tracking. With so much data available, it was also noted that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be the key to condensing it all and making sense of what residents and landlords really need to know.


The second question we asked delegates produced the shock result of the afternoon. We asked whether tech is simplifying the residential experience. Only 43% of the room voted ‘no’, perhaps because they feel that tech isn’t accessible enough or too difficult to use – or both. I sound like a broken record, but I genuinely believe this is not the case; in residential and mixed-use properties, people should have the same level of ease to access the information they need as a commercial building. There is the same need for multiple existing systems to be centralised so why shouldn’t they be given the same level of access? App use is also great for residential properties to adopt, however, there is an expectation that its desktop version will be its exact twin when in fact they must function differently and complementing each other, as they suit different needs for different users.

As a panel, we also agreed that there is an overwhelming amount of data available, but it is important that it is not collected for the sake of it. Asset owners, landlords and building operators must understand what data can be collected and then how you can use it to be better informed on building operations, occupier experience, how to improve development costs and what works well.53198169512_2141253449_c

When taking a holistic view on potential barriers to sustainable tech adoption in residential real estate, there were two big hitters. 42% said a lack of understanding and knowledge was the biggest barrier and 21% said it was cost.

This summer, we launched our Tech equity in real estate whitepaper where we gathered insight from some of the most trusted leaders across real estate and technology. I strongly believe that no building or community should be left behind when it comes to technology and therefore some of the common excuses such as cost, knowledge and accessibility should not be a barrier. It has always struck me how real estate tech seems to focus on the iconic and top tier buildings and communities when it comes to tech adoption. Is and should tech be elitist?

For me, the results from the poll on the day proved that the number one contributing factor to having a lack of understanding and knowledge is a breakdown of communication amongst the plethora of stakeholders who need to adopt tech. It doesn’t take much for a message to be lost in our noisy world, and yet it only takes a little amount of consistent effort to get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet. One will only see the real benefit of tech when the same information is being given to everyone involved. How can a building manager expect to see the true benefits of tech adoption if the staff in reception or concierge are being ambushed with a new way of working?

When this happens there is a perception that people will have to learn yet another system which fuels a reticence towards using it and leads to time-saving solutions not being fully utilised which defeats the point of it being implemented in the first place. Additionally, tech should not be an add-on to gaining operational efficiency, it should be weaved in throughout the entire process.

To demonstrate this, Debra used the brilliant example of Sainsburys implementing self-checkouts and the huge scepticism that followed from both staff and customers, and yet, these machines have now been adopted widely to increase the speed and number of transactions.


All in all, our hackathon produced much food for thought and we must keep the conversation going to ensure better and more effective collaboration. Remember the importance of shifting the focus onto the use cases instead of worrying about the ins and outs of tech and try to practise solid communication throughout the chain of stakeholders. Finally, integrating tech throughout your processes and procedures can unlock huge potential for creating connected communities and building bridges with your occupiers on the most efficient level possible. And at Locale, that's what we're all about. 

What are your thoughts on sustainable tech adoption? To find out more about tech equity, read our report here:



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