Category : Real Estate

Real Estate Tourism & Hospitality

Smart Living & Proptech: Realized by A Digital Backbone and Sustainability

Smart Living

Smart destinations- locations using innovative solutions to enhance tourism, have become the preferred choice for travelers worldwide, offering sustainable development within their local ecosystem, elevating the overall travel experience. With the examples set by Tequila (Latin America), Sindalah (Saudi Arabia), El Hierro (Spain), the idea of smart living or tourism as a planned area of economic activity seems to be taking root.  

Travelers flock to these destinations as they have all the landmarks of smart living which forward-looking generations aspire for. These smart communities typically include: 

  • State-of-the-art technological infrastructure 
  • Digital/mobile access to healthcare, police, and other emergency services 
  • Real-time data on vehicle flows, traffic, public transportation situations. 
  • Self-sufficiency with their energy needs  
  • Top-notch connectivity and free Wi-Fi in public places 
  • Alternatives like electric mobility in public transport as opposed to traditional private options. 
  • Integration and ease of engagement for newcomers/tourists with the community. 
  • Advocacy of ecological and sustainable tourism  

What is really striking about smart communities is how they rely on digitalization and innovative solutions to embed such sustainable practices.  

The need for smart living

Given the current state of the world, every destination holds the potential to embody smart living, meeting the preferences of tech-savvy and eco-conscious individuals who prioritize experience, efficiency, and sustainability. The rising trend of working from home has intensified the demand for smart living spaces that offer a home/office environment within the apartment complex, catering to the needs of the target audience seeking comfort and amenities. 

This trend coincides with the increased interest in luxury housing, which is set to make a comeback in countries like India. News of real-estate majors like Godrej Properties inviting select clients to view their premium luxury apartments and DLF making a billion-dollar landmark sale of their upmarket residences in 72 hours are signaling an enormous interest in this space. 

Smart Living

The surge in demand for larger residential complexes with exclusive amenities is fueled by people’s shift towards more sustainable lifestyles and home office setups, emerging from the 2019 economic slowdown and the pandemic, especially in congested metros. Eager for greener, wider spaces, individuals are willing to invest significantly to enjoy a range of facilities like spas, gyms, play areas, heated pools, extensive parking, and round-the-clock concierge and housekeeping services. 

On digging deeper, however, we also see a greater hankering for robust, sustainable infrastructure, healthcare, mobility and transportation, governance, and other citizen-centric services, which many cities around the world are struggling to provide. These are the kind of conditions and conveniences that improve the livability of a city, and smart living city planners promise to provide.  

What makes living smart?

Property developers now heavily rely on advanced technologies, known as Proptech to establish a robust digital ecosystem, forming the foundation of smart communities/cities that facilitate self-managed, intelligent and smart living. For instance, smart homes can be redefined with increased use of connected devices, AI, and other advanced technologies. 

It could be in the form of products, websites, and mobile apps that help simplify and modernize various areas of real estate from developing, browsing to buying. It can also extend to smart buildings, space management, and architecture.  

The role of proptech in smart living 

Given the discussed market trends,  property builders and urban developers are increasingly investing in smart living projects , such as the 15-minute city concept (where work, home, shops, entertainment, education, and healthcare are all available by foot or bicycle within the same time-span that a commuter would have typically waited for a subway train) and Saudi Arabia’s Project Neom, the first-ever cognitive city

Such projects are getting global approval for their tremendous potential in enabling environmentally friendly, sustainable, health-enhancing choices that will be central to urban spatial conditions in the future.  

smart living

In these projects, proptech can play a bigger role in the revival of the luxury housing market.  

  • Smartening property management:

    Maintenance and management apps etc. will come in handy as multi-family real estate is a focus area of growth. The use of IoT devices in smart buildings and vehicles will further enhance property management and maintenance. For example, a sensor-based system integrated with IoT could be used to detect leaks and quickly fix water pipelines anywhere within the property. 

  • Making buying more immersive:

    The integration of virtual and augmented reality technologies can help produce virtual tours of their prospective homes that offer a more immersive experience for potential buyers. 

  • Enhancing the living experience for residents and tourists:

    Residents can utilize the community’s IoT-driven, AI-based apps to conveniently check gym and swimming pool occupancy and find suitable slots, while also determining the best time for outdoor play in areas with poor air quality. These apps can further extend to services like grocery shopping, emergency assistance, and healthcare.  

These are some micro changes that can be made using a digital backbone to bring about macro differences to the quality of daily life. 

Making smart living a continuous reality

Proptech has an even bigger role to play at the macro level. Sustainable development and equal accessibility are the hallmarks of smart cities, and state-of-the-art technological infrastructure holds the key.  

City planners and developers can create a comprehensive super-app encompassing a range of eco-friendly tools and mobile apps, offering a one-stop solution for various government-related services such as passport applications, name changes, and driving license renewals, all accessible through a single touchpoint for enhanced ease and convenience. 

A super-app for smart living can be built on these lines: 

  1. A government-issued unique number for each resident: enabling digital access to smart city services and departments. For example, it would enable them to quickly buy over-the-counter medicines, get health checkups and diagnostics or other healthcare services and then track that service using the unique number.
  2. Dedicated electronic wallet: to maintain vaccination records, medical information and essential documents like driving license, PAN etc. in a digital format. 
  3. Government-authorized storage space: offering secure upload, storage, and access for residents’ documents with proper authentication.
  4. A public support center for digital bills payment: This includes electricity, gas supply, and water bills owed to the government. The mobile app provides all consumption details, making the process digital and eliminating the inconvenience of visiting multiple offices or enduring lengthy queues.
  5. Apps for public transport with a single digital pass: The app covers all transport modes in the city and enables contactless payments. It offers real-time tracking of buses and taxis for travelers, while authorities gain valuable data-based insights to track congestion points and areas in need of improvement.
  6. App for city-related lifestyle and entertainment activities: allowing users to find interesting events, book tickets, send money, avail promo codes and more.  

From smart city to smart destination

These services will help digitally connect and cater to different nerve centers of a city, which are crucial for smart living. And it does not stop here. Setting up this digital backbone and a connected ecosystem across these services gives city developers a great opportunity to nurture smart tourism and support marketing-related activities to promote it.  

Tourists can be provided with all the guidelines and key information that they would typically need during their visit. They can be offered interactive cultural activities and events organized at city landmarks, monuments, museums, galleries etc., using virtual reality and augmented reality technologies to make the experience more immersive. 

Integrating generative AI allows offering personalized recommendations to tourists based on their interests, helping them plan their visit better and access smart city services for a stress-free, memorable experience. This enhances the city’s reputation as a great travel destination while generating actual revenues.

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Customer Experience Digital Transformation Real Estate

How Digital in PropTech is boosting value for the Real Estate Stakeholders

Digital has played a role in the real estate business for several years now – but largely in the area of selling properties. Digital marketing as an outreach to find prospects, use of technology in creating 3D-walkthroughs were among the common use cases. Later the sector started leveraging technology to enhance customer experience – the role of technology could be seen in home automation, ‘e-homes’ and shared economy as seen in the rise of Airbnb, WeWork among others.

Over the last few years, the umbrella term PropTech has come to cover the use of digital technology in construction technology, property management, interior design and sales & marketing of properties. CXOs also see digital transformation as an imperative in the property market. As with many other sectors, COVID-19 pandemic has forced all the stakeholders of the real estate market to seek digital solutions.

PropTech – Emergence & Evolution

Short for ‘technology in the property domain’, PropTech is expected to meet the changing needs of the real estate ecosystem in the digital world. Today’s PropTech goes beyond online search and leverages virtual reality, augmented reality, drones, and Internet of Things (IoT), seamlessly integrating with the realty sector, optimizing the way people purchase, sell and use a property.

The amalgamation of the tech industry with real estate helps all parties involved – investors, developers, real estate agents, and property management companies. PropTech attempts to make the realty industry easier, efficient, and easier to navigate.

According to research firm CREtech, global investment in real estate technology start-ups and more established players reached $14 billion by the middle of 2019, rising from $12.7 billion in 2017.

As with many other domains COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the PropTech too with increased interest and investments across sales and marketing, shared economy, interior design services, furniture rentals, and construction technology. According to a survey, in India, 37 percent of the potential homebuyers are confident to buy a home completely online with a single on-ground site visit.

PropTech: Making an impact around the world

In the US, technology has traditionally played a role in home buying primarily through online search and connecting potential buyers with brokers. Of late technology has increased the dependence on sophisticated data to drive decisions, assess home value, and find ideal buyers. Adding to this are the emerging concepts of co-working and co-living that represent the largest group of today’s home buyers, which are driving real estate enterprises towards technology adoptions changing the landscape of digitized realty.

The next generation of real estate enterprises is already disrupting existing systems and creating new ones that address the customers’ growing demand for affordability, community, and flexibility. Companies like Better promise to ‘fix a broken business model’ by promising lower commission and fees.

Better Real Estate girl calling over phone

Even in the commercial realty space, we see realtors focusing on providing digital experience to the customers. Recently, SL Green Corp Manhattan’s largest office landlord announced the launch of Summit One Vanderbilt, a new, innovative destination that combines unparalleled vistas, curated multi-sensory experiences and cutting-edge technology to offer an unprecedented guest experience spanning art, nature, and design. Offering an interactive experience, this new destination intends to redefine the way people experience the intersection between nature and the built environment.

The real estate & property tech industry has attracted investor interest too and the offerings are diverse:

  • Flyhomes, an end-to-end home buying start-up, raised $150mn in Series C funding in June 2021. It is a real estate brokerage platform and aims to help clients through the entire homebuying process.
  • Guest House stages shoppable homes, offering the furniture and décor used to stage the home for sale.
  • A startup, Cortex is helping commercial buildings to de-carbonize. It’s machine learning capabilities work with human interventions in optimizing energy utilizations of a building. It claims to have helped Empire State Building save $800K per year in energy costs
  • Compass is among the biggest in this category. It went public recently and provides an online platform for buying, renting, and selling real estate assets. They claim to provide simplicity and transparency for agents, sellers and buyers. In 2019, they enhanced their digital experience adding AI-powered recommendations, ‘a visual workspace that allows agents and clients to collaborate, discuss, and monitor the market in real-time’, search facilities across local and multiple geographies, dynamic map search and more. Such seamless digital experiences simplify the lives of all the stakeholders in the prop tech industry.




Compass App layout screenshots


In Asia, as recently as 2019, KPMG concluded that property organizations may still be behind the curve in developing an enterprise-wide digital and innovation strategy. However, industry professionals were confident that use of technology could produce efficiency gains across their common pain points.

Big data analytics, artificial intelligence, business process automation and the Internet of Things are likely to be the top technologies for Asia’s property industry over the next five years. According to PropTech CBRE, around 151 of China’s top 200 real estate companies have already digitized their processes. South East Asia is also home to serious players across services in the property segment – Capitaland, PropertyGuru and iProperty to name a few.

India is another market where PropTech is gaining traction. In 2020, the domain received nearly $551mn in investments. The players in the domain offer diverse services including selling & buying of property, peer-to-peer property listing platforms, a marketplace for the construction materials industry and more. Recently, India’s first PropTech syndicate fund was announced by Brigade REAP, a real-estate accelerator program which aims to invest in start-ups looking to raise up to $500K in early-stage funding.

Europe too has seen massive investment in the PropTech sector. According to a March 2020 report, sector funding grew 550% in five years to €550mn with the UK claiming the biggest share. Here too, modular construction, student living, co-living and software for construction project management attracted investments.

Technology in the property ecosystem

With changing dynamics and customer demands, there are several areas where aspects of PropTech can play a role:

Home Automation: thanks to efforts from brands like Apple & Google, home automation has acquired a cool quotient. The smart phone can be used to control lighting to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Home & office security, multimedia integration and personalized spaces are other use cases of automation.

Construction: constructing a property requires a lot of planning, risk analysis, forecasting, and cost estimation. This entire exercise could be optimized with the help of PropTech. This increases accuracy and efficiency, enabling faster project completion.

Purchase & rental: the traditional house hunting exercise can be arduous and time taking, and the results are often dissatisfactory. PropTech apps and online portals enable agents and investors to choose their property as per their custom requirements.

Co-working: such workspaces benefit owners as well as agents owing to cost-efficiency. PropTech helps the administration keep a track of its members and their payments along with other integrated services.

Workflow optimization: planning, building, operation and maintenance of construction projects involves collecting data, tracking tasks, documentation and reports. The entire process can be streamlined and managed digitally. PlanRadar is one such offering available across platforms and devices.

Emerging trends in PropTech

As with other industries where there are diverse players in the ecosystem, technology can add value to all in PropTech – sellers, agents, investors, owners, and tenants. Let’s look at some of the technologies and their role:

Big Data

Real estate enterprises are flooded with customer data which when analyzed properly can provide insights to create customized solutions and improve customer service. By analyzing patterns and probabilities, Big Data can play a role in mitigating risks. Property owners can plan activities by analyzing weather, traffic and environment data. Brand owners can derive insights to run media campaigns and advertise the property to the right target audience at the right time. It can also help customize the ads and its placement as per the customer needs which can help create brand affinity.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Automating rule-based repetitive processes has simplified various tasks across operations. Leveraging AI and Machine Learning in reality have shown various benefits such as simplifying repetitive tasks and streamlining data management, identifying customer preferences & creating suggestions, deriving insights & using them for advertising campaigns. Lastly, using chatbots to provide 24/7 customer services and support.

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) is software through which prospective buyers, renters, and investors are provided a virtual property tour alleviating the need to visit the actual property. It provides a 360-degree view of the property and opens the market to more buyers and is also a cost-efficient method to check and select properties.


Drones help view and record external features of the property, providing an outlook to interested clients saving them time and money. Unlike images and brochures, drones provide high-resolution aerial images, providing the actual view of the property. It can help present the entire location and surrounding areas. Drones are also used to deliver materials and even in bricklaying.

Sustainable Technology

As per the United Nations, real estate accounts for about 40 percent of the world’s energy consumption and a third of all carbon emissions. As the need for green business models increases, real estate enterprises support and advocate the construction and purchase of greener properties and systems to manage them. Sustainable technologies help realtors provide their customers with the best of properties without exhausting natural resources.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Several industries have been disrupted by SaaS products – which are cloud based solutions allowing users to access relevant data through browsers or apps. In PropTech too, SaaS can play a role in project management, sales and marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), financial transactions and property management.


Blockchain technology is used to store data and acts as a repository of deals and contracts for future reference. It reduces the use of paper and improves transparency, which is one of the main causes of disputes in the real estate industry.

3D Printing

Although in a nascent stage, 3D printing holds promise as it offers speed as a key benefit. Dubai aims to make real estate development more efficient by making every new building 25% 3D-printed by 2030. In India, a start-up built a 3D-printed house recently.

Future of PropTech

Although the pandemic has had a huge impact on the real estate business, it has also accelerated technology adoption amongst real estate industry leaders and start-ups alike. The emergence and evolution of PropTech are considered a boon at such unprecedented times, as they have helped real estate enterprises thrive during, and post the COVID-19 era. There are various opportunities in reality where technology could be leveraged to provide a better service to the customers and simplify business processes leading to greater impact for all – the enterprises, agents, investors and end consumers.

New emerging technologies such as AI, Machine Learning, Cloud Computing and Blockchain are redefining the way real estate enterprises are functioning today. However, what determines the future of PropTech is in its ability to simplify user experiences while ensuring safety. If PropTech enterprises can deliver this, the marriage between real estate and technology will be a lasting one and continue to shape the future of real estate in years to come.

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