Four things you never knew an app could do for your residential estate
South African estates are lagging behind in maximising the benefits of app technology, but we are catching up.3rd Feb 2020
Most residential estates in South Africa today have invested in high-tech security solutions to make sure that they can offer residents much-needed peace of mind. However, when it comes to maximising the benefits of app technology, South Africa is still somewhat lagging behind.
‘If you look at community living estates in New Zealand, the USA or Spain, it is apparent that they are far more advanced than South Africa in the way they use technology to communicate with residents,’ says Louise Martin, Chief Operating Officer for Estate Living. She cites an example of a Spanish estate management company that runs 180 communities from digital systems with a team of just 10 people.
To date, most residential estates in South Africa mainly use apps for security management and access control.
‘At present, our app is used primarily for visitor management and access codes,’ says Jodi Chetty, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Simbithi Eco Estate. ‘The app has a feature that will alert residents when their guest has arrived: it states the vehicle model and registration, and an image of the driver as scanned from their driver’s license. This assists residents in verifying that the correct person has arrived.’
Chetty mentions, however, that Simbithi is currently in the process of investigating an overhaul of its app, which she hopes will address more of the estate’s specific requirements.
Here are four ways an app can help streamline the management of a residential estate:
Create a one-stop communication ecosystem
Nicole Hiestermann, co-founder of EstateMate, explains she has found that communities are ecosystems with various different entities (property managers, security companies, access control, maintenance teams, etc.). ‘The entities in these ecosystems have traditionally operated independently of each other, and often operate through multiple communication channels and systems, bringing complexity to these community environments,’ she says.
An app will allow the integration of the various entities into a single communication solution to enable communities to interact and connect effortlessly, says Hiestermann. ‘It is key to bring simplicity and convenience to members within a community, no matter if you are managing or if you are a tenant/owner in the community. Time is a valuable commodity, and technology is the key to addressing inefficiencies related to tedious time-consuming tasks faced by management,’ she adds.
Grab the attention of your residents with quick answers on their preferred platform
One of the biggest benefits of an app for estate managers is that it enables them to respond to any request, query or concern from the palm of their hands, says Hiestermann. Likewise, for home owners, it is the direct source of all information related to their community, and a direct line of communication to management.
Says Hiestermann: ‘Although WhatsApp is used in many communities as a communication tool, it often causes frustration between community members, as important messages quickly get drowned out by unrelated responses or emoticons.’
It’s essential that a residential estate app follows the trends of other popular social platforms, adds Martin. ‘It needs to be a platform that people know and understand instead of becoming a platform they need to learn to use.’
Enhance safety and security
An app can allow the estate manager to create an effective, unified voice for the estate from management to the community where all official information is shared, explains Martin. It becomes a safe environment with all the necessary protocols in place.
If the app is designed in such a way that residents find it easy and straightforward to use, it can solve security problems, says Martin. Instead of essential security notifications getting lost in a sea of e-mail or WhatsApp communication, estate managers will be able to get the attention of their residents immediately through push notifications on the app.
Simplify financial management
An app can allow estate managers to create a database that houses all the data of its members in one centralised location. Martin explains this can assist estate managers with the distribution of levy invoices and accurate and up-to-date communication on management fee accounts.
So, what does the future hold for apps for residential estates? The potential and possibilities are endless, according to Hiestermann. ‘At EstateMate, we are continuously looking at current technology, the needs of our communities and possibilities that could be created with an app. We feel that creating a one-stop ecosystem where everything related to a community can be found in one place and all these entities can work together for the benefit and betterment of a community is the most important focus.’