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”Closed until further notice” — Smart Amenity Bookings for Hands off during COVID-19

”Closed until further notice” — Smart Amenity Bookings for Hands off during COVID-19

Smart Amenity Bookings for Hands off during COVID-19

The reality that was experienced by most residents living in apartment buildings, condos & HOAs who wanted to access their pool areas, gyms, lounges, BBQ areas, tennis courts, you name it — closed down at the hands of COVID-19, leaving residents and property managers in an awkward situation.

Historically, apartment buildings, condos and HOAs provide an attractive offer for dwelling-seekers. For busy workers in bustling cities, students, single individuals & the elderly, the low-maintenance and location combined with in-house amenities can often be the main selling points when choosing where to live. Latest census data from 2016 in Canada shows that nearly 45% of the population lives in some variation of apartments and shared buildings(1) while in the United States, 54% of renters live in buildings with 2-5+ units.(2) This goes without saying, the closing of amenities in these buildings to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 was and still is a new challenge for property managers.

”Hey can you make us an app?”

In May of 2020, one of our longtime clients, a property management company that operates in Toronto and Ottawa approached us with an idea — why not develop a new app to combat the amenity problem? So we did. With their extensive feedback we created Smart Amenity Bookings to provide a tool to property managers that have to work with restrictions and safety measures. In a few short weeks, we quickly learned a lot about amenity booking and what challenges need to be solved, and elements to consider. Here is what the process looked like:

First, there’s organizing your amenities

Most buildings have multiple amenities to manage, so naturally we wanted property managers to have a simple and clean dashboard to see all their amenities in one place. We also added indicators for the number of pending bookings, approved and declined bookings

Amenities inside amenities

Now that users could create their amenities, we realized that in lots of cases, amenities need to be broken down into other amenities. The most common occurrence was the gym, where each individual machine, free weight area, stretching area, etc. had to be managed separately. Taking that into account, we made it possible to link amenities to others by selecting a parent. This way property managers were quickly able to assign each amenity to a more general category if needed. At the system level, the parent had its own set of rules and each amenity could have their rules too.

Capacity Levels — changing restrictions

As restrictions continue to be implemented and changed throughout the months, property managers have to be able to make quick changes that will keep their amenities in check. The first of which is setting capacity levels. If the regulation allow for only 10 people in your gym at once, then you can set a maximum of 10 at all times. As bookings come and go, spots open up and the system always checks to make sure the capacity is respected.

Now to take things one step further, if you want to set capacity levels for your individual amenities like each gym machine, you can also do it, and the system runs checks to ensure that your Gym level restrictions are still respected.

Booking Options & Payment

Flexibility is key when it comes to booking options, some amenities may be closed during certain time frames or only open on certain days of the week. Property managers can also enable fees for their amenities and allow the residents to complete the payment portion online.


Published: June 14th, 2018

New to the CENGN community and eager to begin their projectSmart Building Apps is a growing Canadian company based out of Ottawa. Smart Building Apps is a software application designed to simplify building management and provide cost-savings to property managers. To complete their IoT project, Smart Building Apps will be implementing their product on the CENGN Cloud and then will drive heavy amounts of traffic to our servers to test its processing rate. By testing the requirements needed to support their solution when usage is increased, Smart Building Apps will have third party validation of the scalability performance of their solution in which they can take to clients looking for a durable, scalable solution.

Experience in the Property Management Industry
The leadership team at Smart Building Apps comes fully equipped with decades of experience working in the residential and commercial property management industry. Their previous involvement of providing security services to property managers gave their founder, Denis Condie, and the team at Smart Building Apps an inside look at the challenges property managers face on a regular basis. Through these insights, Smart Building Apps was formed and since then they have developed a suite of solutions property managers can use to simplify their job and life for their tenants. Through their app, property managers can send out building announcements, receive maintenance requests from tenants, and manage amenity scheduling. Within their suite of solutions is their smart parking solution, which is the software they will be testing at CENGN. This tool has been developed to specifically help residential and commercial property owners and managers easily rent out parking space.

Smart Parking
The smart parking solution allows its users to purchase parking spaces from commercial and residential parking space suppliers. After downloading the Smart Parking App, users enter their license plate information, parking duration, and pay – all through the app. Now that they are registered and have parked, a security company can use the registered information to check on each parking lot ensuring only authorized vehicles fill the spaces. This new way of paid parking is not only easier for space owners, it removes the cost of hardware equipment like gates and payment machines. As an added bonus, the application is also configured with Google Maps API, so users can see locations of available parking spaces and register their location when parked.

Project Setup
Testing the amount of data traffic Smart Building Apps will require to scale is the validation that large commercial property managers are looking for before they adopt the smart parking solution. This will let their potential clients know if the company is ready to handle their much-increased user requirements.

To setup the project, Smart Building Apps will be deploying their smart parking server and jMeter traffic generators on the CENGN Testbed. They have developed scripts to simulate traffic as a user moves through each phase of their application. During execution of the project, jMeter will send traffic through different website routes, replicating many users simultaneously using the application. By increasing the traffic load to be processed by the Smart Parking Server, Smart Building Apps will be able to determine how many users can enter their parking information on the app at a single time.

The CENGN Testing Advantage
As a company transitions from startup to growth stage, refinements need to be made to technology products and services to ensure they scale effectively. Ramping up the number of users creating traffic unveils unforeseen problems that never occurred when operating in the past. CENGN’s testing environment will allow Smart Building Apps to generate heavy traffic flow in a secure environment without losing service quality to a client.


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How Property Management Helps your Investments Thrive (Infographic)

Having the right property manager (with the right tools) is essential to most property investors. This is a great overview of the market and how getting the right people on the job makes a world of a difference in a thriving market. Keeping your properties occupied, profitable and running smoothly is vital. A team of property managers using Smart Building Apps is the perfect way to a well oiled machine making profits for you year over year.

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