GET IN THE KNOW: Nicholas Gill of BuildingLink reveals the most anticipated 2015 condominium technologies!

Out with the old and in with the new – condo managers around the GTA, throughout North America and around the globe are embracing new technologies to enhance their day to day operations. As one of the industry’s pioneer solution providers, BuildingLink has been delivering technology to better track activities, maintenance and communications since 1999. Year after year the original modules are enhanced and new ones are released and this year is no different.

With over 2,500 communities, 42,000 staff users and almost one million residents currently using BuildingLink, we get a lot of feedback and input from industry experts (our users). Because we readily embrace our clients’ ideas, our development list is long and always evolving based on priorities and the vision of our own people.

Strategically located in New York City’s Union Square, BuildingLink’s head office is smack dab in the middle of the East Coast’s central technology hub and we take full advantage of it. With over 60 people at head office and a large cast of those individuals focused on product development, we are lucky to have a strong infrastructure for such a niche market. Between our in-house developers and the steady stream of new talent coming from leading technology schools like NYU and Columbia, we are in a unique position to challenge our team members to find new and efficient solutions to traditional management processes. One of the original goals of BuildingLink was to create a “seamless environment of interaction” between management, staff, directors and residents through technology.

As with many SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions, BuildingLink’s enhancements are continuously released throughout the year and 2015 may be our biggest yet. 2014 saw major enhancements to our maintenance and work order modules by adding photos, supporting documents and increased mobile functionality. Managers can now seamlessly convert an internal task or resident request initiated from a mobile device and convert that into a detailed work order and email it to an external vendor for execution without logging out of BuildingLink. We’ve upgraded our equipment and systems module to maintain contracts, photos and even provide management with replacement cost forecasting. Through our partnership with Stripe.com we provided our clients with the flexibility to receive online payments for everything from amenity booking fees to miscellaneous payments like bicycle rack rentals and fob replacements. We introduced our theme designer which gave clients the freedom and flexibility to change the whole look and feel of their resident portal to match their building’s branding, seasonal changes and more. In 2014 we introduced our “localization (language)” options to better serve both our international client base and local buildings populated with non-English speaking residents and managers. We started with Spanish and will be expanding to simple Chinese, French, Portuguese and Turkish throughout 2015.

 

The trend for condominium developers to build large, complex, amenity rich buildings has certainly not slowed, and so we’ve given a big boost to our amenity reservation module by adding several new settings. These new settings allow managers to adhere to the complex booking policies common with condominium amenities. And we haven’t stopped there. We’ve taken amenity reservations to the next level of convenience by incorporating it into our BuildingLink mobile app. Imagine the convenience of booking the elevator from your mobile phone while coordinating the time and date of a furniture delivery from the show room floor. Thinking about having a holiday party? No problem! Simply check party room availability from your phone and book it. Our mobile apps are the next generation of convenience for both residents and staff.

Looking forward to 2015 we are more excited than ever. We will continue to focus on enhancing our current modules and introduce new ones for management, staff and residents. The 2015 enhancement list is still being confirmed; however, several projects have already made the list and many are still up for consideration.

Building on the recently enhanced work order module, we’ll be introducing both purchase orders and the ability for managers to issue RFQ’s to selected vendors. We’ll also be adding an insurance certificate management and compliance tool for outside vendors that will allow security and/or management to verify a vendor’s current insurance certificate status before work begins in a building. Now how cool is that? Our early dedication to providing mobile apps continues into 2015 for management and staff using Android powered phones. With almost 84.7% of global market share, Android powered handsets are dominating the mobile market according to data from IDC (which tracks mobile use globally). As these trends continue we are very excited to be introducing BuildingLink Geo to Android users and we won’t be stopping there. As demand for mobile continues our clients will benefit from additional functionality to our iOS and Android apps for residents and staff in 2015. Since the release of our online payments module in 2014, demand for a mobile payment option has gained momentum so we’re excited about its impending release.

Our commitment to seamless communication that already includes email broadcasting, phone broadcasting and digital displays, along with dozens of automated notifications (think parcel notifications, work order notifications, booking confirmations and more) will soon include text broadcasting as an option. We are continuing to push communication efficiencies further through automating calendar events and notifications, which minimizes management’s scheduling time while delivering maximum impact. If we can assist busy managers in overcoming the challenges of getting better attendance at Annual General Meetings or by simply reminding residents to move their car from the garage due to cleaning then we’ve done our job.

Our love affair with delivering new enhancements is not just restricted to management and staff, we’ve got modules and apps on the 2015 list that have a focus on fun. Through a combination of additional notification options and enhancements to our Neighbournet social module, residents will have access to a “count-me-in” app that has the sole purpose of connecting with other residents to share in fun activities. “Neighbournet’ has long been a popular and well used module that helps residents to connect with their community and meet other “like-minded people.” The “count-me-in” app allows residents to connect on the fly and invite others to join them for an outing or activity. Whether it’s heading to a new restaurant, a gallery opening or simply taking the dog for a walk, the “count-me-in” app will make these activities a lot more fun with friends. As condominiums increase their offering of classes, workshops internally and through third party vendors, we want to help make the registration process easier and faster. See a fitness class or group activity on the upcoming list of events that interests you? No problem, simply click and register automatically and instantly.

It seems that every year is more exciting than the last and maybe that’s because our talented staff is growing and keeping in stride with ideas coming from our ever-expanding client base. 2015 will bring hundreds of new ideas. Every idea is welcome as we continue to help condominium communities run more efficiently and have more fun!