Friday, October 09, 2015

+1 for the Genius bar at Apple, Inc.

Giving credit where credit is due is important. With that said, lets jump in…
I had the unfortunate pleasure of having to visit my local Apple store to fix not one, but two devices. As I expected upon walking in, the store was packed full of new potential and existing customers. As I proceeded to enter the store I was pleasantly greeted by a man with an iPad. He then asked if I had an appointment. Thankfully, I did…but for only one of my devices??? The gentleman upfront with his iPad said no worries and asked me to take a seat at one of the “square tables”. Within minutes I was being helped by some who was very competent. Though spending 2 hours in the store (partly my fault for not remembering my iCloud password) they took care of both my devices and even offered to set them up. I was shockingly surprised at the level of customer service I received in what appeared to be a slightly chaotic store.
How many of us put our customers first in our business? How can we provide a truly positive user experience?
Kudos to you Apple, Inc. Your Genius Bar made it happen for me!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Could you hold my spot please?

The Verge highlighted an article today where an iPad is waiting in line to buy the new iPhone 6S.
YEAH, you heard it right......An iPad!
How will other consumers waiting in line feel about their place behind a piece of technology? What does this mean for the future of buying? Are the camp sites in front of Apple the day before a new product release going digital?
"Lucy" highlighted in the article plans to purchase her phone without actually being there. In person that is. Read more about "Lucy" and her experience here....

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Designing for an excellent student experience

Today’s students arrive at college with an average of more than six devices requiring a high-speed Internet connection. These devices include smart phones, tablets, notebooks, e-readers, gaming consoles, smart TVs, FitBits, and VoIP phones. Moreover, industry observers foresee 10-15 devices per student becoming a reality in the not-so-distant future. 
At the same time, content providers continue to innovate.
A few years ago, Netflix started streaming HD content, and the popularity of its video streaming service surged. In student housing, more than 50% of residents started streaming this HD video feed. According to Netflix, in one three-month period, the average speed for its streams on Comcast's network increased 50%%, from 2.5 Mbps to 4+ Mbps.
Today, to prevent buffering – i.e. choppy or interrupted viewing -- residents now need at least 20 Mbps of bandwidth just to stream a single Netflix 4K show. By 2017, Netflix and other content providers plan to offer 8K video streams, which will require 50 or more Mbps.
More users, along with the explosion of video-centric devices and apps such as Roku, Apple TV, KindleFire,  and Chromecast, paired with more advanced video content, such as Netflix 4K, Hulu+, and Amazon Prime have increased the demand for data capacity at today’s student housing communities.
According to survey data released at both the 7th Annual InterFace Student Housing Conference and the 2015 Annual Broadband Communities Summit, Internet connectivity continues to top pools, patios, clubhouses--and in some cases, location -- in terms of the most important amenities students look for. But with ever-increasing demands for Internet bandwidth and reliability at many properties, providing this single amenity isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it proposition.
This article shares, in non-technical terms, InfiniSys’ views on how to meet this increased demand and keep residents happy at a student housing community.
 To increase the flow, you need bigger pipes.
Using the analogy of a water system helps illustrate InfiniSys’ philosophy toward engineering a robust Internet infrastructure in student housing. Have you ever been scalded in the shower when someone flushes the toilet? This typically happens in water systems with pipes or pumps that are too small.
A well-designed water system has large pipes and pumps, and enough electricity to enable water to flow easily. The system pulls water from a large source, such as a reservoir, and feeds into a network of smaller pipes, which eventually end at the house or apartment unit. Sometime these systems will include local storage such as a water tower to meet peak demands.[JH1] 

So, how does this relate to high-speed Internet at the property?
Being scalded in the shower when someone flushes the toilet is akin to numerous residents trying to use the same Internet connection with too little bandwidth, substandard infrastructure, inadequate electronics, or all of the above.    
Take the example of one student resident Skyping with his parents, another streaming House of Cards on Netflix, a third taking an online exam and yet a forth booking his airline ticket home.  Now, multiply this by all residents in the student housing community: the Skype call sounds garbled, House of Cards freezes up, the test-taker fails his exam because he can’t submit it on time and the would-be traveler gets a message that his request is “processing” but never gets a confirmation message. He’s left wondering if he needs to resubmit his information, and risk having his credit card charged twice.
Just as a water system needs properly-sized pumps and pipes, as well as enough electricity to power them and water towers for peak use, student housing communities need a well-engineered and robust physical infrastructure to provide high-speed Internet. 
This includes a large fiber backbone (pipes), electronics (pumps), bandwidth, (electricity) and a cache (equivalent to a water tower).  These components enable content, such as video, voice, games, e-mail, and web pages (the “water” in this system) to traverse the network.
Start with your fiber backbone
The most critical element of a system’s infrastructure is its fiber backbone and subsequent copper data cabling. 
InfiniSys has been designing its NetworkedApartment™ systems to meet industry commercial standards for the last 25 years. Our fiber backbone is rated to more than 100 Gbps per strand, with copper data cabling that’s rated to more than 1 Gbps.
Electronics are then tacked onto the pipe and may include routers, caches, Internet switches, and wireless access points.
What’s inside the apartment
Using our SmartApartment™ design, we install robust infrastructure to outlast existing and projected standards and provide enough bandwidth to satisfy connectivity needs. Currently, that translates into the delivery of a minimum of 1 Gbps to each data jack.
Once the correctly sized fiber and electronics are in place, owners can offer residents bandwidth speeds of more than 10-50 times greater than what students have received from older traditional cable modem and DSL services.  All in-unit switch ports have 1 Gbps ratings, and all backbone switches have either 1 or 10 Gbps ratings, depending on the location within the system. All high-bandwidth locations, such as smart TV and gaming console outlets, have dedicated 1 Gbps switch ports.
Caching in on your residents’ Internet experience
Behind the scenes, a caching server may be employed to mitigate heavy repetitive video sources such as Netflix.  By definition, a caching server stores content locally, similar to a water tower keeping water on hand close by.  It provides for reserve or boost capacity during periods of high video traffic downloads. Incorporating a caching server, which can be located at the property or at the service provider’s facility, is especially effective when incorporated as part of a managed Ethernet system.
Managing your Wi-Fi network
The type of Wi-Fi access points you use, and how you use them, affect your residents’ experience.  Each Wi-Fi access point operates at a given frequency standard, and needs a certain level of traffic management. Typically, the access points included within a cable-modem or DSL-modem are of the retail variety and are not designed to handle multiple simultaneous users. 
More robust access points employ a multi-radio, multi-frequency or multichannel streaming model.  A satisfactory multi-user experience depends on the number of users, the number of devices each user has, and the location of the access point.
What about the 802.11ac standard?
The 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard is here. For example, the Apple MacBook Air, IPhone 6 both of which  are quite popular among students, already has 802.11ac Wi-Fi capability, in addition to 802.11n capability, as do many new digital cameras. To satisfy the desire to be able to market a property as having the latest, most up-to-date technology amenities, we recommend using 802.11ac+n band 2x2 minimum wireless access points.  For unit access points the ratio should be 1 AP for every 4-6 students.Gauging the resident experience
Resident satisfaction should not be based on speed tests run over a browser – such as OOKLA, for example – but rather on their experience of audio and video content.  Determining performance over a Wi-Fi network becomes even more challenging when using other wireless enabled devices such as iPhones, because the device itself can become a limiting factor in the results.
InfiniSys professionally tests and stresses our Internet backbones to determine how fast the website loads, whether Netflix constantly buffers, or if the game freezes up at a critical moment.
A word about cable and DSL modems
Where necessary, InfiniSys can incorporate cable-modems and DSL-modems into this infrastructure. But property owners should note that an Internet delivery system that uses older cable-modems or DSL-modems is similar to a poorly designed and unmanaged water system.  In the future with the release of the DOCS 3.1 standard and other advanced technologies cable-modems again may be a viable alternative for providing high capacity bandwidth.  The systems however will need to be of current generation cabling, IE RG-6 meeting the required distance limitationsWhen used in a student housing property, such technologies often provide for a less-than-satisfactory user experience.  Students typically report a significant degradation in system responsiveness when more than 60-75% of residents try to use the system simultaneously. A typical student network has 95% or higher utilization during peak evening hours. 
While cable companies may advertise cable-modems with very high downstream bandwidth, they typically have limited upstream capability and do not manage multiple users effectively, again this will be somewhat solved with the DOCSIS 3.1 technology.  Students then experience the issues described above: losing connectivity, getting garbled audio or frozen video, or not being able to finalize a transaction online.
Using the water system analogy again thinks of an entire neighborhood irrigating its lawns at the same time -- just a small stream would emerge from each sprinkler or shrub head.  In most cases, the municipality gives each house certain days to use water to reduce the system’s overall water usage and increase the individual experience. 
But imagine telling student residents that they can only use the Internet during certain hours and on certain days! Modems simply do not offer the requisite capacity to satisfy the user experience today’s students demand.
So what does InfiniSys recommend?
How much bandwidth do property owners need to provide their residents with a great user experience?  Assuming a proper NetworkedApartment™ infrastructure with current electronics and a sufficient number of managed access points in place, InfiniSys recommends that property owners provide enough reserve “pumping capacity” to afford a consistent and acceptable user experience at all times.
Below is a chart with our bandwidth recommendations based on anticipated demand:
75MB -100MB Per 100 students depending on the type of school the property is near. For example, engineering students and schools that offer many video and online classes require far more bandwidth than those that do not. 
May increase to 200 MB Per 100 students

We should emphasize that the bandwidth recommended above works only when it is part of a well-managed network operating on a robust infrastructure.  Each element functions as part of a system to provide an excellent user experience.  We could have the best water system infrastructure in a town; however if the pumps are not managed correctly, we might still have the scalding shower experience.
In addition, the user experience depends on choosing a technology service provider who can effectively and proactively manage the network from the property to the end user.  The service provider must offer a pro-active customer support system to ensure a satisfactory student resident experience, with alternative means of resident outreach such as “texting” or “chatting,” and not just a telephone help desk.  This includes employing regular surveys and focus groups to validate the service offerings.
Connecting it all together for fast, reliable and robust connectivity
Just as a poorly-designed water system won’t work well without adding more pumps or increasing the amount of electricity powering it, so too is the case with Internet connectivity.  If a property doesn’t have scalable fiber and electronics, residents will get kicked offline, not hear the person they’re talking to on the phone, or fail their exam for not being able to hit the submit button.  Students invest in the latest technologies and fully expect their devices to work where they live.
InfiniSys advises its customers to use well-engineered, robust technologies that can withstand changes and upgrades using proven, standards-based designs.  InfiniSys is available to counsel owners, developers and property management companies on Internet and other technology based amenities, which have become the deciding factors for students choosing a property today.
Prepared by the Team at InfiniSys, Inc.
Updated 09_2016

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fiber to the unit...lets discuss

In a previous piece, we talked about how apartment owners can still use the structured copper cabling they’ve installed in their buildings to deliver gigabit Internet speeds to residents, without running fiber optic cabling to each apartment. That’s good news because it means apartment owners who have spent the last 20 years improving the structured cabling in their buildings aren’t at a disadvantage in the amenities race. You can still truly achieve – and market -- gigabit speeds by running fiber to centralized “comm” rooms in your buildings and then bridging the gap to your apartments (within certain distance limitations) with Cat5E or Cat6 copper cabling. The key in doing so successfully comes down to making sure you spec robust, quality electronics in your comm rooms to deliver that signal. Now, I’d like to talk about those situations where owners may want to consider running fiber all the way to the apartment unit today. As the costs of fiber electronics have come down overall, you are looking at hundreds of dollars per apartment today, versus thousands of dollars in the past. Some situations may warrant the higher overall price tag of running fiber to the unit. For instance, in market-rate luxury new apartment construction today, where land costs are at a premium, owners can gain valuable, rentable space in their buildings by eliminating the comm rooms that have been used in the past. By running fiber to the unit in these situations, it can make sense to spend a little bit more upfront to gain income-producing space down the road. It’s a testament to the success of this approach that many service providers today are starting to run fiber to the unit in luxury builds, rather than use the older comm room architecture. Garden-style student housing is another good candidate for running fiber all the way to the unit. Because of the typical layout and design of this architecture, and the distances between buildings, fiber to the unit in these instances may be the only practical way to deliver robust signals to your student users. Students, of course, are power users, bringing as many as 10 connected gadgets each to school with them. So ensuring you have enough firepower in those situations is another benefit of running fiber to the unit. All that said, you still want to do a cost benefit analysis to determine if fiber is the best option. In mid-rise student housing builds, for example, the comm room model will still likely be the most feasible solution today. Another surprising place you may want to choose a fiber to the unit architecture is in the active senior living space. Seniors are becoming more connected today, as their Millennial children and grandchildren have introduced more and more gadgets to them for cross-generational communication. We’ll look at this trend in more depth in a future article. To sum up: • Owners who have structured cabling and employ a comm room model can still offer gigabit speeds to compete in the amenities race today. • Fiber-to-the-unit may present advantages in new luxury construction, student housing garden-style, and active senior living builds. • Even with the reduced cost of fiber optic electronics, it’s still essential to do a cost-benefit analysis to determine which model is right for you. By: Richard Holtz, CEO of InfiniSys.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Smart apartments get real

Forbes is highlighting two instances where smart apartments are becoming real. First, it looks at utility metering company NWP, which has helped apartment owners keep a tab on gas, water and electric use in the past. The firm is now testing certain smart devices, such as locks, thermostats and automated lighting at some of its clients’ apartments in California to see how residents respond. CEO Ron Reed tells the magazine installing the smart devices can help owners save money by being able to turn up or down thermostats when residents move, or eliminate the need to switch out locks. Meanwhile, Greystar Management is working with tech start up Iotas in Portland to install $900 worth of sensors in some of its apartments. It plans to use data from those sensors to recommend ways residents can save money on utilities, as well as market future smart home devices. Seems like two solid steps toward making the much-talked about possibility of smart apartments a reality sooner rather than later.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A DVR and Apple TV included in the rent? Yes, please! has a great article on the history of the amenities arms race in student housing, and how it has evolved since the 1990s. In an interview with Brent Little, president of Dallas-based Fountain Residential Partners, previewing the RealShare Student Housing Conference in Dallas Sept. 1-2, the real-estate investment pub explores how student digs went from austere to over-the-top in just a few decades. Today, we’re at the point where 50-inch flat-screen TVs, DVRs or an Apple TV box – and often all three – are standard offerings for students, included in the rent. But the real rub of the article is Little’s assessment of why these amenities are important, especially in low-barrier-to-entry markets. Basically, for the cost you put into them, they help you compete in an outsized way. When you evaluate the cost of technology amenities, including a robust Internet infrastructure, you’re looking at a very small percentage of the overall budget of a building – a couple hundred thousand bucks on a $40 million project, for instance, or less than one half of one percent. That’s a return even a freshman econ student can understand. Read the full article here.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mediamageddon, NFL Sunday Ticket, and the importance of your apartment building's Internet pipe

Tech guru Shelly Palmer – one of MDU Geek’s favorite bloggers -- put out an interesting piece this week regarding Mediamageddon. The term refers to the recent sell off in media stocks, which is presumably tied to declining traditional TV viewership.

Then, on the heels of AT&T buying DirecTV, the companies announced that apartment residents and college students who can’t subscribe, er, directly to DirecTV (in situations where their building isn’t wired for it, or landlords won’t allow them to have a dish installed on their balcony) can now buy the flagship NFL Sunday Ticket programming package a la cart via live stream. To boot, they’re offering two-tiered pricing – $49.99 a month for four months for apartment residents, and a “student friendly” price of $24.99 a month for four months for students.

Could the confluence of these events be a sign of things to come? Some popular pay services – HBO Now comes to mind -- already have paid, direct-to-consumer streaming choices that cut networks and cable TV subscriptions out of the loop.

For apartment owners, it’s just another indication that the Internet pipe going into your building is the most important amenity pipe you have, and may well soon be the only one. That being the case, it’s important to wire it right, and get the most from it that you can. We’ll be looking at just that in an upcoming feature, How Much Fiber is Enough, Part 2. In the meantime, check out Part 1, here. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 06, 2015

What’s on your back-to-school tech list?

The Houston Chronicle has a tech-oriented back-to-school shopping list for college students: Bluetooth headphones, a Roku or Apple TV box, and a 5 GHz WiFi router. The headphones are presumably for tuning out your new roommate as they recount every episode of Game of Thrones they watched on their Apple TV. But the last item is interesting in the way the article suggests students use it: to create their own private WiFi network, using the 5 GHz router plugged directly into a wired access point. That way, they won’t have to compete with other students trying to sign onto the dorm’s general WiFi router. The lesson for apartment owners? No matter what you install in your property to connect your residents, some will invariably try to set up their own little network within the network to leapfrog others, especially if the access points in your building cause a bottleneck. So next time your wondering who set up the new WiFi network in your building’s lobby, just look at the guy, or girl, next door. Read the full article here.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cable sees the importance of the Internet. Do apartment owners?

You know you’ve reached a tipping point when even the cable company starts looking past set top boxes. 

For the first time, cable giant Comcast reported it had more high speed Internet customers than cable TV subscribers, according to an Engadget report. The same article noted that Comcast launched its “Stream” online video service just in time to capitalize on the trend. 

That’s notable, of course, as more and more Americans become “cord cutters,” and choose to watch streaming video over an Internet connection rather than subscribe to cable.

But for apartment owners, it also highlights an elephant sitting in the middle of multifamily’s living room. Namely, while residents have been saying for years that a reliable, high-speed Internet connection is the most crucial amenity for any apartment, the industry as a whole still doesn't seem to have heard that message.

That’s the gist of Broadband Communities’ latest MDU Survey, which found that less than 39% of apartment owners were familiar with the term “fiber to the home.” Of course, that's the phrase pros use to designate high quality, high-speed Internet delivered to residential addresses, such as apartments, over fiber-optic lines. 

The magazine concluded, “In general… perceptions of MDU owners and managers toward broadband-related issues, and particularly ultra-broadband issues, continue to lag the perceptions and needs of their own residents.”

For years, multifamily owners have loved to complain about cable providers being inflexible and hard to work with, as well as deaf to their residents’ concerns about customer service, which often ended up at the apartment manager’s door.

But with the combination of these two pieces of news, it’s time for multifamily to start listening to what cable is saying, loud and clear: high quality, high-speed Internet actually is kind of important, after all.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Incredibly Adjustable Apartment

Technology just might be the answer for taking your Murphy bed to the next level. A group of MIT grads led by Hasier Larrea have created a mix of home automation apps and robotics that can change the dimension’s of a small apartment’s individual areas, such as a bathroom or living room, on command, according to the Boston Business Journal. A great YouTube video shows how the furniture in a 400-square foot apartment adjusts to different times of day and living scenarios, such as a bed sliding out of a drawer when it’s time to sleep, and converting into a desk when it’s time to get up and work. It even shows how a closet-sized bathroom could expand into more space when someone uses it. Now that’s smarter living through technology. Check out the article and video here.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Apartment Access Gets Fob-ulous

Electronic keys are coming to multifamily. But you need to take steps to keep them secure.

For Diana Pittro,  executive vice president of Chicago-based RMK Management Company, the banks of keys hanging in her leasing and maintenance offices are slowly disappearing. In their place is a PC-like console where the company codes the electronic fobs it now gives residents instead of traditional keys.
Each of those fobs can be programmed to open an individual apartment door, as well as other common areas in a building, such as a fitness room or clubhouse theatre room. That means residents can carry just a single fob that opens all the areas they have access to, instead of multiple cards or keys.
“That alone is much more convenient for residents,” Pittro says.
Long used in businesses, hotels and campus settings – where facility-wide control allows for lockdowns in emergency situations -- keyless electronic access is now becoming more commonplace in market rate apartments as well. Add to that the raft of consumer-oriented smart locks that have been hitting the market and synch with smartphones using Bluetooth technology – August Smart Lock and Kwikset’s Kevo are two – and it’s clear that physical keys are going the way of CDs and VCRs.
The reasons why are clear. Pittro’s fobs can be programmed to provide access to just one or both of the towers in a two-tower property, and can be used for other amenities, ranging from storage lockers to parking garage access. Using the console that came with the system, Pittro’s leasing agents and property managers can set the times that residents can access those areas – say until 10 p.m. for the community theatre room --  and, in the case of lost or damaged equipment, identify who used a room last. “It allows you to customize access down to the individual resident,” Pittro says.  
RMK has been deploying Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Kaba Access Control’s  multihousing “SafLoks” to new buildings as they’re constructed, and outfitting older ones when they’re remodeled.
“It costs more at setup, but it’s cheaper in the long run because you don’t have to change the locks when someone leaves,” she says. “Plus, now, I don’t have a million keys floating around. Or worse, a master key that can open any lock in the building. With this system, you just don’t have that.”
Cost to set up the system has run RMK (or the owners of the 30 buildings and 7,000 units RMK manages) between $400-$500 a door, or about $200-$300 more than a traditional keyed locking system. But because Pittro can simply reprogram the fobs when a resident leaves, instead of changing the locks, she says RMK believes it will save money in the long run. Plus, by charging residents $25 per fob, she says they do a much better job of returning them than traditional keys.
“It’s just a reality of apartments, people are not very good at giving their keys back,” Pittro says. “With this, if I don’t get it back, I can just block it from the system. It just makes more sense to have a key that you have control over through programming.”
But while the advantages of keyless access are many – automated reprogramming for apartment managers, no more rogue keys, and access control options to various parts of a property during pre-programmed periods -- apartment owners need to be aware of the inherent risks of giving residents electronic access to their properties. Namely, as with any electronic network, you’re also providing a potential gateway to anyone who can hack into the system
“The main risk, of course, is the issue of duplication, and how easy it is to duplicate that electronic key,” says Sam Rehman, chief technology officer at application protection firm Arxan Technologies. “Before, I would actually have to steal a physical key, duplicate it and then distribute it. Now, I could literally just post that key online, and then everybody would have access to your apartment building.”
Arxan provides security to smart phone apps to prevent exactly that, by making sure that the identity of the person using the key is encrypted. But other methods of duplication are also possible. For instance, just as cyber criminals have installed so-called “sniffers” on retailers’ credit card terminals, ATMs and gas pumps, they could do the same with electronic entry access devices.
“The goal, in that case, is to monitor the protocol so that as people walk close to the door and open it, they can record the information that goes back and forth, and then see if they can find any patterns in the information,” Rehman says. “It’s very doable.”
And criminals could, of course, purchase the types of machines that RMK uses to code its fobs, and try to reverse engineer the system to break any encryption, just as they might try to steal traditional keys and duplicate them.
“The critical element comes down to how people store these electronic keys, and the security they build into the system,” Rehman says. “If you’re talking to a vendor, you should ask them how the keys could possibly be duplicated. If they say they can’t, you really need to start asking more questions, because there’s always a way.”
At the same time, Rehman says the benefits of programmable, keyless access for industries like multifamily, hotels and short-term rentals such as AirBnB and outweigh any perceived risks.
“As with any security-related issue, it’s always a race,” Rehman says. “We just need to keep innovating to make it so expensive and time consuming to break into the system that it won’t be worth it to the criminals to try doing so.”
If manufactures and vendors can do that, keyless access for apartments could open a whole new door of opportunity for the multifamily industry.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Let the Right Ones In, Part 2

Fargo, N.D.’s KVLY-TV has an interesting report on the future of electronic access to buildings and multifamily communities. Spurred by an investigation the news station launched earlier this year, the story highlights a growing concern about the safety and security of physical, keyed locks. Namely, reporters were able to take a picture of a co-worker’s keys, send the picture in to a key copying website, and then use the copy they got back to unlock the co-worker's door and walk into the home. Those kinds of nefarious capabilities, as well as the cost of electronic access systems dropping nearly 70 percent in recent years, according to the report, have led to increased adoption by many businesses in the station’s viewing area, including several multifamily properties. Again, stay tuned for our own special report on electronic access systems, coming soon. Watch and read the full KVLY report here.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Let the Right Ones In

Jay Pritchett may never have to tell Gloria and Manny how to buzz him in to the front gate again, thanks to LiftMaster's new Internet Protocol Access Control (IPAC) system. By using VoIP Technology, the access system allows residents to buzz visitors and guests into their buildings or homes without the use of an old-fashioned telephone line, according to Multifamily Executive's Lauren Hunter. That should be good news for multifamily owners, who have sometimes struggled with antiquated units that rely on old telephone wiring, which they're putting into their buildings less and less these days. Those systems also require a closed-loop to work, which means if two people answer different extensions of the same line at the same time, neither will be able to buzz the caller in. (This is the concept that Manny and Gloria can never quite figure out, even though they're part of the Modern Family.) As access control is near and dear to our heart, the MDU Geek will be reporting on keyless entry systems soon. Until then, LiftMaster's large display screen will ensure that residents are only letting the right ones in.  Check out the full MFE article here.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Welcome to Your New Apartment, Virtually

With virtual reality showing up in everything from immersive video games to high-tech condo sales centers, it will only be a matter of time before virtual becomes real in Apartment World. The folks at Popular Mechanics are highlighting a loft in London, where it’s so hard to find a decent apartment that there’s no way you’ll ever land this one. But only because it doesn’t actually exist. The oh-so-real virtual tour looks amazingly authentic. And while still a bit gimmicky now, these kinds of capabilities raise real and compelling possibilities for apartment owners. How about putting on a pair of VR glasses, and then giving your East Coast-based prospect a tour of her next apartment, only in San Francisco? Of course, to do so, you’ll need as robust an Internet infrastructure in your building as possible, an issue we’ll look at more closely in Part 2 of our examination of How Much Fiber is Enough?, coming soon. In the meantime, you can look at Part 1 here.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Apparently, the FCC Was Serious About All That Net Neutrality Stuff

The big news this week is the FCC’s $100 million fine of AT&T for “throttling” its customers, which the Washington Post did a good job covering. Throttling is the practice of limiting subscribers’ download speeds after they reach a certain data threshold. For AT&T subscribers who paid for unlimited data, that meant streaming videos and other high bandwidth content eventually started slowing down. While not exactly the same issue targeted by the FCC’s net neutrality rule, which dictates that service providers can’t slow down the streams of one content provider over another, the FCC’s action on throttling has the same spirit to it: that everyone should be able to access everything at the same speeds, without service providers getting in the way. For its part, AT&T said the practice of throttling is widespread in the industry, and that the FCC knows this. While it’s not a great defense – everybody else is doing it, so why shouldn't we – it does raise the question of whether more throttling fines will come. Read the WaPo article here.    

Monday, June 15, 2015

MDU Geeks Unite!

Just a quick reminder about the Big News happening here at the the Multifamily Technology 360° blog. With your help, we've garnered enough readers to strike out on our own. So, going forward, we'll be coming at you from our new URL: MDU

You’ll still get all the apartment technology news and commentary you’ve grown accustomed to at Multifamily Technology 360, just at our fabulously geeky new URL: MDU

You can hit us up on Twitter, too via @MDUGeek.

Going forward, our sponsor, InfiniSys, will be taking over the URL, with a nice prominent link to MDU Geek, lest you forget.

But, maybe, just maybe, being one of our readers and therefore prone to a certain nerdy inclination, you've already bookmarked us? We can only hope. MDU Geek on!