The IoT and coworking spaces have a lot in common. Both need to strike a careful balance between forging accessible yet secure connections to engage with and protect their growing communities.
It’s a tough call. Lucas Seyhun, co-founder at The Farm Coworking, said: “While we work with some of New York’s leading technical startups, we are always careful to make sure the technology we use does not replace the human connections that we are so careful to foster.”
“The IoT is one way to achieve this – and we’re just starting to see some really interesting developments that will help coworking communities to connect, grow and stay secure,” he added.
Three technologies, in particular, are helping coworking spaces to achieve a delicate balance of keeping coworking communities both connected and safe.
The first is the Kisi cloud-based platform for physical access control, which uses mobile devices or cards to give coworking members access to spaces.
The Austin-based coworking space atx FACTORY uses this technology and its founder, Vijay Mehra, said: “With this technology, our members can use the application to access the facility via their smartphone 24/7. We did not want to hand out clunky access cards and really wanted to embrace mobile technology in our space, especially with many of our members being mobile and virtual themselves.”
“It is really easy for us to restrict access as we have certain discount memberships that are limited to the time of day they have access to the facility. It is also really easy for us to deactivate the cards if a member cancels. There is no need to collect or have an inventory of access cards,” Mehra added.
Bernhard Mehl, co-founder at Kisi, explained: “Kisi’s vision is to bring open access to the world of things – and we started with real estate. Typically buildings have been locked up and we believe IoT can change that.”
Critical to manage workspace
Second, WUN Systems is a workspace management system for coworking and shared spaces. Its sales director, Warren Hersowitz, said: “WUN offers a platform that will manage the technology of the space including data/WiFi, phones and door access. Even more, the services can be specified around a specific membership plan or member’s needs – for example, a member who needs 24/7 access, ability to access conference rooms when booked, data plan with certain bandwidth and a voice line.”
It also lets coworking spaces integrate all of their systems to provide greater automation and efficiency. This has a knock on effect for coworking members, as Hersowitz explains: “The platform also allows for automation, which can increase the revenue for coworking spaces by allowing them to offer services like 24/7 meeting room access (as opposed to only when staff are present), create a better customer experience (through the portal or phone app that allows instant sign-ups and access to information) and increase efficiency of the staff.”
Third, XANDEM is a full coverage motion detection and tracking technology that monitors spaces without a camera. People wandering around a coworking space appear as a small “X” on the screen.
The company’s CEO and founder, Joey Wilson, said: “There are many XANDEM features that might appeal to a coworking space. Maybe users of the space want to check to see how busy it is before deciding to come in. XANDEM can show them how much action is happening. If the building owner wants to save energy by automating the lighting system – XANDEM can do that.”
But, and this is a pertinent point for coworking spaces, XANDEM lessens privacy concerns, according to Wilson, who added: “In many locations, video surveillance is not appropriate due to privacy or confidentiality issues. XANDEM provides real-time monitoring without going overboard. All that one sees on the interface is a little “X” moving around on the floor plan.”