Big Data in Office Buildings Holds Promise Despite Privacy Worries

Posted on March 29, 2019

By Margarita Foster

Property managers are using “dynamic and multidimensional” information for operations but not yet for tenant engagement.

A white paper published by the NAIOP Research Foundation titled “The Office Property and Big Data Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together”found that office building owners are capturing, storing and analyzing data to operate building systems but not to recruit and retain tenants.

Researcher Kimberly Winson-Geideman, Ph.D., a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne in Parkville, Victoria, Australia, reviewed literature and questioned property professionals. While virtually all noted that security, elevators and HVAC systems have been digitally tracked, operated and optimized for years, most are exploring but not yet implementing the notion of tracking the paths people take and the places they congregate on property grounds or inside buildings.

Privacy issues emerged as the main reason tenant information is not collected, but lack of clarity about what to do with data once it is captured was also a factor.

The paper noted “it is important to understand the difference between tracking the number of people moving through a building and tracking their identities.” In retail settings where an individual can access public Wi-Fi or download a shopping center app using an email address, a partial or even full identity may be captured and tracked. This practice was not found to be widespread in office buildings.  

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