Smart Home Devices for MDU Residents: Are You Selling to This Lucrative Market?

IoT adoption is growing across the world. IoT sensors and devices capture data and perform tasks, communicating over IP and other protocols with Cloud or local systems to create intelligent systems and enable automation.

These solutions support a wide variety of use cases, enabling more functionality while saving companies money and increasing revenue opportunities. The growing smart apartment space presents a unique area for IoT technology deployments, with specific benefits and challenges.

While the majority of MDU residents acquire broadband service for their units directly through providers via a retail service model, a growing number of properties offer managed high-speed internet access (HSIA) as an amenity.

However, given recent FCC rulings on resident choice in MDU environments, MDUs are no longer able to enter into exclusive or graduated revenue-sharing agreements with ISPs and are no longer able to participate in sale-and-leaseback agreements.

MDU residents making use of property-provided devices are keenly interested in use cases related to safety and security, as well as energy management. Parks Associates research shows 43% of U.S. MDU residents report using smart home devices, including a mix of property-provided devices and devices the resident purchased at retail.

Consumers prefer to monitor and control their devices through a single user interface, and top solutions will support a BYOD approach.

As data security and privacy continue to be an important concern for smart home users, both apps and voice controls pose different pros and cons of use. Manufacturers desiring higher adoption are well advised to focus on privacy-focused policies, capabilities and product design, particularly for camera-equipped devices.

  • 60% of property managers report that they can monitor the data from smart home devices installed in individual units
  • 38% also report that they can adjust any device at any time. Platform vendors providing smart home devices typically restrict these capabilities for property management companies in order to prevent invasion of resident privacy and rights.

MDU residents are more likely than consumers living in single-family homes to own smart home products, with residential owners of units in condominiums or townhomes particularly likely to use smart home technologies. Over 42% of MDU unit owners report that their property pre-installed at least one smart home device.

Almost two-thirds of prospective MDU residents report that pre-installation of smart home devices is an important factor when selecting their new apartment. Over half of MDU renters are willing to pay extra for an apartment with smart capabilities and amenities, which would also include a system that allows them to add their own devices without limitations or needing approval.

Given the tech-positive tendencies of MDU households, there is considerable room for smart spaces solutions to grow in the MDU rental market.

MDU tech preferences

Kristen Hanich is Director of Research at Parks Associates.

Parks Associates, in partnership with Technicolor, recently released the industry whitepaper, Simplifying the IoT Edge: Smart Spaces Best Practices, available as a complimentary download. The international research firm will also host the virtual panel, “Broadband Services and MDUs,” as part of the CONNECTIONS: The Premier Connected Home Conference series. The event brings together industry leaders to discuss managed Wi-Fi deployments — both as a valuable amenity for residents, and to better support and enable smart apartment technology.

SSI has partnered with Parks Associates for the creation of DIY FYI, a column designed to help dealers keep track of important smart home market developments, what the competition is and whether they want to jump into something they see as a new opportunity.