🎧 #046: The WiredScore team on what makes a building smart and connected
“Future readiness… this isn't about guessing that 5G is the future on this particular frequency, and I'm going to put that in my building and put all my eggs in that basket.
It's about: how do we take a step back and make sure that as and when these technologies mature to a level that they're a definite ‘must have’ in a building, that I, as a landlord, can rapidly evolve the way my building is set up to deliver those features?”
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Episode 46 is a conversation with Arie Barendrecht, Founder & CEO of WiredScore, and Sanj Ranasinghe, Technical Director of WiredScore.
We talked about the role certification programs can play in smart building technology adoption, and the founding of WiredScore the company.
Then we took a deep dive into the WiredScore certification program and their new SmartScore certification program, which is launching next week, to much anticipation in the commercial real estate world.
This was fun to unpack and very validating, as you'll see.
Mentions and Links
Verkada hack (4:31)
Platform Revolution (19:52)
SmartScore Launch Event (1:01:58)
Thoughts, comments, reactions? Let us know in the comments.
The founding story of WiredScore: Making it matter (5:41)
Scoring philosophy (20:00)
Breaking down the certification process (27:14)
Future readiness for tenant-side connectivity (33:13)
Unpacking SmartScore (40:00)
Note: transcript was created using an imperfect machine learning tool and lightly edited by a human (so you can get the gist). Please forgive errors!
James Dice: [00:00:03] hello friends, welcome to the nexus podcast. I'm your host James dice each week. I fire questions that the leaders of the smart buildings industry to try to figure out where we're headed and how we can get there faster without all the marketing fluff. I'm pushing my learning to the limit. And I'm so glad to have you here following along.
This episode is a conversation. Ari barren, direct founder and CEO of Wiredscore. And Sanje run a SINGA technical director of our score. We talked about the role certification programs can play in smart building technology adoption. The founding of Wiredscore the company. Then we took a deep dive into the Wiredscore certification program and their new smart score certification program, which is launching next week, too much anticipation in the commercial real estate world.
This was fun to unpack and very validating as you'll see. Please enjoy. All right. Ari and Sanj, welcome to the show. Uh, can you introduce yourself, maybe starting with you, Ari?
Arie Barendrecht: [00:01:06] Yeah. Happy to, um, James. Thanks for, having us. We're both fans of the podcast. Uh, my name's Ari director. I'm the founder and CEO of Wiredscore, um, based here in New York city. Cool,
James Dice: [00:01:19] cool.
How about you sash?
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:01:21] Hey, yeah, I'm Sandra singer. I'm based in London and I'm technical director for Wiredscore.
James Dice: [00:01:26] Awesome. so you guys have both been doing this together for a while now for about four or five years. Um, can you talk about, each of your backgrounds before Wiredscore and then they bring us up into.
the founding of the, of the company.
Arie Barendrecht: [00:01:42] Yeah. Happy to I'll I'll give my background first and then sand, you can go and I'll try and I can tell them click, uh, founding story, probably unique to your podcasts. Uh, James, I I'm a full industry outsider, so I have no real estate or engineering or telecommunications experience.
Uh, most of my career was spent in professional services. most recently in management consulting. Uh, I was at Boston consulting group, prior to founding Wiredscore, but kind of the common thread that, drew me to, to founding the business and solving the problems that we do is, most of my career in management consulting was focused on helping kind of age old analog industries adapt to.
The emergence of new technologies and to the digital age. And that meant as all good management consultants do, um, wide variety of industries, financial services, transportation, uh, media and entertainment. maybe the best example was newspapers um, I had to help one very large newspaper company think about how they exist and thrive in the future in a world where you've lost your monopoly on news, because information is widely available to everyone.
And everyone's a reporter with, you know, a phone and camera in your pockets. And, and I see a lot of similarities between that strategic work and, my preparation for Wiredscore, which was. Which is really to be a part of a industry-wide transformation of a aide age, old industry, as it goes from bricks and mortar and prepares to thrive in a digital world.
Um, and buildings become computers with rooms on them as, as the cliche term, uh, Sandra. Do you want to share a little bit about yourself? Yeah,
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:03:33] a bit of a different starting point, but very similar end point. Um, so I am an engineer by training, um, and I started life as a software developer who actually developed, um, security cameras.
So 60 cameras and I spent 10 years in industry that evolved on that same journey to arm. You mentioned that when I started the industry as a lonely software engineer, everything was recorded on VCR, on DVDs. Uh, and when I left, uh, in the mid two 2010s, we were controlling cameras across a whole building, uh, with your phone.
And not only that, the cameras started to be integrated into access control into other systems in the building. And I realized looking back that I had just been through a digital transformation of a small industry being security canvas, and the opportunity for wide score to see how that digital transformation could scale up to huge office and real estate across the world was something that I couldn't say no to.
James Dice: [00:04:28] Cool. You probably read the news about the Hackett vercotta a couple of weeks ago.
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:04:34] There's some scary, scary stories around getting into these systems to sure. Yeah.
James Dice: [00:04:41] Yeah. I went down a rabbit hole of like, what did they see? You know? And, and like, it's a, it's different than another hack, right. Or you're actually seeing people doing things. Right. Uh, the, uh, it was
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:04:51] definitely a weird one.
Yeah. I think that emotional and emotional side of it. I think it is how people are looking at, you just makes such a difference, especially as it's sort of becoming, you know, something similar in London a few years ago, but yeah, balancing out the good that that technology can deliver along with the problems that it causes is like a key problem that we need to look in in the industry.
James Dice: [00:05:12] And then somewhere around five years ago, you met, you met RA and he roped you into this journey together. That, that,
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:05:18] that was it. Yeah. How we, um, as a white school had been set up in the UK for a year, and then it was looking to expand across Europe. And I was brought on board initially to help, the the movement of the product into France and Germany, and then took a more central role into how we develop our score cards and helps us to expand across the different verticals.
And now into smart buildings.
James Dice: [00:05:39] Awesome. Awesome. All right. So tell me about the founding Ari. Uh, what was the sort of the impetus, like you said, you wanted to be part of the digital transformation. Why did you choose scorecards in general and what was sort of the, the, the reason that you decided to go down that
Arie Barendrecht: [00:05:55] route?
Yeah. Yeah. So of course I wasn't, um, sitting at home, uh, as a management consultant thinking, you know, what I really want to do is join the, digital transformation of, of the built environments. Um, that would have been amazing. you know, instead the original thesis for Wiredscore came from, uh, the same place.
I think a lot of, a lot of business ideas do, which is listening to people, vent about their, about their problems. And for me, um, I had, uh, a number of friends from grad school who had left to start their own companies and. Would hear them from time to time complain about the pain of either getting internet set up in their offices or just the quality of the internet infrastructure in their buildings.
You know, friends eating to send their employees, to coffee shops or back to their homes and apartments to get work done because things weren't working as effectively as they should in the office and hearing those complaints like a small light bulb went off. Like it just seemed at the time, very surprising that these fancy New York city buildings, weren't able to sustain and support kind of basic operations for, for some of their tenants.
And so I started doing a little bit of discovery into that. and more and more as I looked under the hood, I had found a number of problems in this space. Um, I've found, I think from a occupier perspective, from the perspective of, of companies renting office space, a pretty consistent pattern of, it being difficult to access really high quality, uh, connectivity that a business could depend on or a lack of information I should say.
And, or a lack of information about which buildings have really good internet, like everyone that had signed office leases communicated the same feeling of taking a chance, you know, crossing your fingers or knocking on wood that the, digital connectivity would be what they needed it to be. and then on the landlord side, as I started asking some folks on the real estate side of the table, the really consistent response I would get when I would ask questions, like, how are you planning for, or ensuring you provide great digital connectivity to your tenants?
The common response in 2013 would be, well, we don't because that's a tenant responsibility. Um, we, we provide this beautiful office space with, you know, wide floor plates and great views and, and the tenant deals deals with the rest. and I think the confluence of those two things was my aha moment, which, which was basically that something that companies really depend on to be productive and happy in their space was something like not at all on the radar screen of landlords and developers.
Um, and that was obviously causing problems. And so I thought there was, was a problem that needed solving there. And it, wasn't hard to kind of put my finger on a solution to that problem, which was to look at analogs in the real estate industry, um, kind of most, most importantly, Sustainability certifications, um, who had for kind of decades already, or at least a decade and a half kind of brought transparency to the market as to which, which buildings are energy efficient and are, are delivering sustainability, um, and kind of create a common language that tenants and brokers and landlords could use to, benchmark energy efficiency.
And so, the idea for Wiredscore was born, which was to create a certification standard, but focused on digital connectivity instead of sustainability as lead had done. and we, we, we sought out to bring that to market. And in 2013, um, slow going in, in the early stages to say the least, I kept getting the response from real estate companies that.
They understood. They understood that internet connectivity was very important, but they, they would prefer not to compete on yet another, factor, like another thing for a landlord to worry about. Um, and so in, in very polite New York city, real estate language, uh, most landlord said interesting idea, but we'd prefer for you to not create wired tour.
James Dice: [00:10:36] my first response to that would have been okay. I better do it then. Like, how did you like
Arie Barendrecht: [00:10:41] respond? I think that's, I think that's exactly, it like anything that's causing a little bit of friction, um, probably means that there's some value there, there, underneath, and it probably made me more determined to create, what ultimately became Wiredscore.
Um, the one problem that I, that I couldn't solve is, um, credibility is, is, fundamental to any certification or, or, you know, kind of ratings business. And the, the other challenge surfaced in my early landlord conversations was like, look, um, you know, lead is, is supported by a U S GBC and clearly has this kind of momentum behind it.
How do we know that your certification is going to matter? And that was a good question. And luckily I found a good answer there, which was to partner with, uh, the New York city government. So back when mayor Bloomberg was in office, you might recall he was kind of quite vocal about New York city, you know, rivaling or exceeding Silicon Valley as a global tech hub and Bloomberg and his team did a lot of thinking about how to make New York city, a place that would attract and retain the world's best technology companies and access to great internet connectivity was, was one of the things on that playbook on how to make New York city a great, a great tech hub.
Um, and so it, it, wasn't super hard to convince Bloomberg and his team that New York city should be the first place in the world to have a certification. That evaluates internet connectivity in all those buildings. Um, so our launch date on September 30th, 2013 was a mayor Bloomberg press conference and downtown Brooklyn, announcing that there was a new program at the time called wired NYC.
that would bring transparency to the entire ecosystem around which buildings have great internet connectivity, and we're kind of off, off and running from there. Okay, cool.
James Dice: [00:12:51] So I have two follow up questions on this. This is fascinating. Uh, so first did you start this on the side, um, while you were at Boston consulting and was there a point where you said, okay, like I have enough traction where I'm going to quit or did you take the leap and suddenly have no income and like it's the classic like founder story or how did that
Arie Barendrecht: [00:13:14] work for you personally?
So, um, I had, I had started actually something else on the side, in any e-commerce business, which helped me make the leap from consulting into becoming an entrepreneur. Um, but then during the early stages of that business, I started thinking about Wiredscore. and so I was already, without any income and in building something, but the first business was, was actually in the skateboard industry of all places and, um, which I grew up in Southern California.
And that was a big part of my, of my upbringing. Um, but then when the Wiredscore idea came to mind, um, I, you know, I kind of got the sense that this could be. Could be bigger, but maybe more importantly, it could be like a lot more impactful. Like you know, I, I believed and still believe, and I think our whole team is excited by the idea that we are impacting the way that buildings are designed and operated.
and that's a hard thing. It's hard to rival that level of impact when you're selling skateboards on the internet. Okay.
James Dice: [00:14:28] And does the skateboard company still exist or did that physical?
Arie Barendrecht: [00:14:32] Uh, it fizzled out. Alrighty. Alrighty. But I have a lot of skateboards in, uh, in storage, uh, inventory that it still needs to be liquidated if, uh, if you're interested.
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:14:44] Yeah.
James Dice: [00:14:44] Yeah. Well, it's funny. Sorry. We haven't talked about, you know, how to talk several times when we haven't talked about that. So it's good to get that background. So my second question was around how you overcame that initial. Uh, sort of resistance, as I say, that's more than resistance from the landlords who ended up becoming your customer.
Right. Right. So how do you say, uh, from an innovation standpoint, how do you, go from wired NYC to partnering with, you know, the Bloomberg administration all the way to, okay, now these landlords are accepting of the idea of even being scored on this and now they're my customers. Okay.
Arie Barendrecht: [00:15:23] Yeah, it is, it was quite a journey to take them on.
Um, I think there are a couple, a couple drivers of, getting real estate companies to ultimately adopt and, you know, one building and then, and then expand across their portfolios. and also take us from just New York city to across the U S and, and, and into new countries as well. And I think first and foremost, Wiredscore, The biggest challenge people like in the late at my feet was how do you make this matter?
How do you make this matter to not just us? This like certifications are an interesting product because you don't just have a single customer, you know, the buyer in our case, the landlord or developer, the entire ecosystem has to find value in what, what you're trying to do and kind of back you as the common language or, or, or standard for how buildings will be measured.
Um, and so before I was able to get any real estate companies on board, it was about really pounding the pavements presenting to every brokerage team, you know, landlord rep and tenant rep in the city. Um, go meet with Rodney, the real estate board of New York, our largest industry organization, you know, urban land Institute may op um, to go kind of.
Talk about the inherent benefits to the ecosystem of having a common agreed upon language for measuring and benchmarking connectivity in buildings. Um, and so kind of step one was, was starting to matter to the people that landlords care about, and they care about brokers that care about their architects and engineering partners.
They care about their industry organizations. Um, and we started to get a lot of backing that like, Hey, look, this Wiredscore could be really good for the industry, uh, to have this kind of alignment, and ultimately to help kind of facilitate or incense buildings to improve their connectivity and that like, that's ultimately what, what mayor Bloomberg and his team were excited about is that if you start rating buildings based on their internet connectivity, you're gonna be able to use market forces.
To, convince the real estate companies that are under investing in digital connectivity to compete with the best buildings in the market who not only have great internet connectivity, but have they way an effective way to promote it far and wide through, uh, through a certification. and so that idea that a certification could kind of raise the quality of our, of our buildings, started to take hold with the ecosystem, maybe landlord last, but then finally I was able to get real estate companies to say, look, we understand now that this matters to brokers, it'll matter to tenants and we have to take seriously.
Um, and then I think the second thing, like any, business with kind of network effects like Wiredscore has where, you know, the more landlords that adopted the more tenants and brokers care about it, and the more tenants and brokers care about it, the more landlords will adopt it. Um, we had some early, early adopters, in New York city, it was, uh, Rudin management company, uh, SL green, uh, empire state Realty trust were the first to, sign on and start signing up their portfolio for Wiredscore certification.
Um, and as soon as that happens, the dominoes kind of start to fall because you, like, as I said, you have these, these network effects and the competitive dynamics of real estates where, someone who owns a building across from a root and building, And Rudin has, you know, earned wire or platinum on, on their building that are going to want to figure out how they can compete.
and we'll give us a call. So it kind of unfolded from there, but it certainly took, you know, some of the more forward thinking landlords in the city to, uh, kind of take a stand and say, look, this certification doesn't exist yet, but we want to be the early adopters and kind of leading ambassadors of, this, platform.
James Dice: [00:19:47] Very cool network effects are fascinating. Um, I'm reading a book called platform revolution right now, and it's got several examples that are really great. Uh, cool. So you mentioned lead, I've got a question around just like the philosophy of the way that you certify and sort of score buildings.
And I'm assuming as we unpack wired score and smart score, um, in a minute, this philosophy will sort of underpin both of them. so like what's the philosophy around how to score things?
Arie Barendrecht: [00:20:21] Sure. Um, I can Allan to that at the highest level, and then I'll bring, uh, I'll bring Sandra and to see what I've missed here as the person, uh, developing our, scoring, uh, our scorecards and our scoring criteria.
But I think for us, um, This has started from day one and it's pretty consistent, which there's, there's a few philosophical pillars to how we evaluate buildings. Um, and to take a quick step back, we have two main products. We have Wiredscore, which is a certification for digital connectivity and smart score, which will be launched.
I think after this podcast is published and that's a certification for smart technology. Um, and, um, Wiredscore the connectivity certification is an office and residential buildings and smart score. We're starting just in office buildings to help help give a lay of the land. Um, back to the question, I think our scoring philosophy really centers on, um, first and foremost, the kind of user perspective.
and so. Our opinion is that for a certification to have value, um, it has to be rating what matters to tenants. Um, and so we, when we set up a scoring system, um, particularly with Wiredscore, it's really focused on the end, the end user, um, with smart score, as we can get into the details on it's focused on not just tenants, but other users of the building as well, property managers, asset managers, tech solution providers.
Um, but we do a lot of research and, and talk to the users of buildings to understand what's most important to them. Um, so that the rating has meaning, you know, to put it simply if you're a broker or a tenant out in the market, looking for office space, um, and a leasing agent tells you that the building is Wiredscore platinum.
That Wiredscore platinum has to represent a better lives experience for you as a tenant in the building. Hmm. Um, I think the second thing is, is really, you know, we, we need to have a crystal ball and our scoring needs to be forward-looking. and that's of course, because, you know, landlords and developers kind of design or plan for today, by the time they improve their, connectivity or smart technology infrastructure, it's going to be too late, because of how slowly everything moves in real estate.
So, so part of our value prop is to predict what's coming, uh, and allow people to make decisions today on how to improve their building so that they can meet tenant expectation or user expectation years down the road. and then the third, I think, Philosophical pillar is really around, leveraging our unique perspective as a global standard.
So we now work with 700 different real estate companies in 10 different countries, which makes up about 650 million square feet of real estate. And we think that's a real advantage to, um, to what we do in terms of setting an industry standard, because we have this kind of global perspective and can see, what landlords and developers in different countries they're doing really well or doing not so well.
and that really helps us pull out our crystal ball and it helps us see where the, where the industry's going. Um, and so we want to make sure that we're not forgetting our kind of global perspective in determining, you know, what a connectivity standard or modern technology standards should be. Um, sand, what would you add to that?
But I may,
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:24:03] may have missed. Yeah, I think, I think always put it really well, but it's, it's really that idea of if we sort of dig a little bit deeper is we set those outcomes of what a great connected building will deliver to the users. But then, um, part of the art and science of creating the scorecard is to like pivot that into like what actually does that break down to, into the tangible things that make up the building.
And, um, as I put it as much as we create the applicacy group around, uh, telecoms ISP is engineering firms, lawyers, brokers, and landlords. It's also about bridging the different, tangible aspects of the building and how they all add up to deliver the outcomes to the users. So we look across sort of the core infrastructure, the service providers available, um, and that sort of future looking readiness that a landlord will have.
And then, Align each of those points of each of those criteria that we measured there into one of those outcomes that faces attended really solves the problem. And I think, um, you know, we mentioned it previously that when he founded Wiredscore, the problem was that landlords thought connectivity was a, a tenant problem.
And whilst that divide has got smaller, it is still there. And I think what Wiredscore really does in breaking down those outcomes to give them a lens of that, this is why it matters to a tenant. And this is how you as a landlord can actually. Implement that change and make your building better connected.
If we continue to fight to bring that, put that closer together. And I think as the world has changed over the last couple of years, we're really starting to see landlords need to become more occupy facing. And, and this focus on technology and connectivity is, uh, an area that we really believe Widescore is starting to, to bridge that gap between the landlord and what's happening.
James Dice: [00:25:43] Yeah. Yeah. So, so it's like a, a checklist that if you've bridged that gap, or if you'd knocked down that silo, you would have these things in place, that type of thing.
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:25:53] yeah. And I think, I think the really important thing is like, We're not saying like, by putting another advisor or change this visor, you're giving your tenants a great vice of experience it's around changing know really distilling back to them by making this change over here, this is how you're impacting your tenant.
Is that indirectly? Yeah, that is really important that we solidified through the certification, um, to ensure that those tangible changes that landlords and developers could do in their design and implementation of a building have really, really do reflect back into. Uh, tenant 10 of Aquinas. And I guess to extend that a little bit further, it's even more so when you look into the residential space where multi-family or built a rent in, in the UK, um, is landlords taking on that next step of delivering a connectivity service to their, to their residence.
And they're coming from a space where that was just the ISP problem, but now they really sit as that, that key link between what the ISP could offer and how they really enable that end experience, um, to the restaurant. Um, and I think that's something that starts to come back into office, especially with, as we're talking about smart buildings, where we go that, that level of like user service delivery, that a landlord would be responsible to be a tenant or be a resident, um, across different asset classes.
James Dice: [00:27:13] Got it. Okay. So how does the sand, how does the process work? So got to a new existing office building, call it for Wiredscore specifically. We'll leave smart score off on the side for a minute. So how does the process work?
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:27:27] Yeah, so it's, uh, we have two sort of distinct pathways. One is further the new development or redevelopment of buildings.
So something's coming off plan where we will work with the development team, um, and addressing some key features of the building from three main categories, which are the, the, the infrastructure, um, then the range of connectivity services that are going to be enabled in that building. So that's both looking at obviously fiber for core into that provision, as well as, um, Various wireless technologies from, from wifi within the building to rooftop access for fixed wireless to give that resiliency of service.
And also more and more, a bigger part of our development is looking at in-building mobile performance, which we're seeing as a key differentiator. As I already said, where we're looking where the future is pushing towards. Um, in-building mobile has a lot of the challenges that internet provision to buildings had.
10 15 years ago and in a resurfacing with mobile. So really making sure that landlords are prepared to what the future has been. Mobile is a key area there. And then finally that, that readiness piece, we looked at the infrastructure and the connectivity offerings to the building. And then how has the building preparing to enable a range of services from a legal and, installation perspective.
And that really adds up to, tenants as they move into the building, being Gavin seat that they're getting, um, connected as quickly as they possibly can by a range of services that will give them the most cost efficient and best service they can. And that reassurance that their connectivity will be resilient.
Be that via different connection types or different mediums that they have in the building. We execute that for developments via reviews of design, schematics, and specifications, or through the development process. So we have projects that we'll sign up. There might be 10 years out from completing. And actually that's the time where we can really start to offer value on looking at the overall sort of master planning of a site and the building all the way through to buildings that are just about to go to a detailed design stage where, we can ensure that the key sort of features that they set up in the building meet our criteria, um, as we, as we lay them out, um, that then allows for that fall less sector of the building to go through.
So as the building hits its full completion and tendency starts to take up, we can, transition across to our existing occupied building certification, which. Also works for a fresh, like existing building that have joined the certification scheme, where we're still covering those saying key aspects of ensuring that tenants get a great connectivity experience in terms of how long it takes to get connected, what they're paying for that connection and how resilient it is.
But we can actually affect that by an onsite audit. So we'll actually send in one of our trained auditors that we'll do an independent assessment of the buildings. They don't walk in with the scorecard. They walk in with a sort of a discovery matrix that they will highlight key features of the building to us.
in terms of like where connectivity comes into the building, how it's set up within the building, how it propagates vertically food to a tenanted areas. And then we, we take that information, bake it back through our scoring algorithm to give, um, Again, I score for the building across those three categories that I highlighted before around the connectivity services, in the building, the infrastructure that propagates that service through the building and then that, um, commercial and, provider readiness side of it to make sure that our building is set up in the best possible way to take services forward.
James Dice: [00:30:52] Okay. Hey guys, just another quick note from our sponsor nexus labs. And then we'll get back to the show. This episode is brought to you by nexus foundations, our introductory course on the smart buildings industry. If you're new to the industry, this course is for you. If you're an industry vet, but want to understand how technology is changing things.
This course is also for you. The alumni are raving about the content, which they say pulls it all together, and they also love getting to meet the other students on the weekly zoom calls and in the private chat room, you can find out more about the firstname.lastname@example.org lab. Start online. All right, back to the interview.
So a couple of things to unpack there. Yeah. Are you talking only about the it network or does the OT network or the spaghetti of a bunch of different OT networks, uh, included in that? So how does that, how does that,
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:31:44] yeah, so, so this is where, as I mentioned before, we have a clear sort of division here, wide school that the certification focuses on 10 additional digital connectivity.
Okay. So really, I guess when you're setting up that it capability, especially as like tenants are moving more and more of their infrastructure to the cloud, you know, in effect your building becomes part of your it network as a tenant, because if you lose your cloud connection, you're done. Um, when you talk about the OT and the operational technology side, that's really where smart school starts to step up.
And I think where, um, and that division is really important. Landlords have responsibilities in both sides, obviously, more so in operation technology, but I think where you seen the differences in Wiredscore that bridge that we needed to like cross was ensuring the landlords were responsible for delivering that great.
It or technology backbone for tenants at, in, in smart school where we're really pushing is that landlords are considering how that OT setup can really, really benefit tenants. They've got that infrastructure. They've got that technology in some form or means now how are they promoting how they're actually using it for that full breadth of users that are mentioned on.
James Dice: [00:32:53] Okay. All right. We'll say, we'll say the OTPs first for the next section here. So talk to me about new technology. You mentioned mentioning future readiness. Um, I just saw something about what is it, CBR G and then there's 5g. And then like, there's a bunch of things that I just don't know really anything about.
So I'm wondering if you could take a quick minute and just explain, like, What is future readiness for tenant side connectivity?
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:33:21] Yeah. So just, uh, uh, it's a CBRS, I think is the one. Yeah. Sorry. Yeah. Yeah. It's so
James Dice: [00:33:28] many spectrum of frequencies that doesn't even matter to me.
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:33:33] Exactly. That I think, I think actually the us Navy have given up that frequency band from memory.
Um, but I think what's what you've really touched on. Fences is a key thing. That's moved the position's moved over the last few years, which is why this and why this is a huge number of things. You know, it could be wifi, it could be. Including mobile, stepping up to 5g. As you talked around, it could be CBRS with this real notion of landlords being able to take responsibility for delivering a mobile network within their building.
Um, it could be various sort of smart learning technologies around sick Fox or LoRaWAN or MBI IOT. But really what you're seeing is the future is wireless and all wireless. Um, that future readiness is where we really need to be looking at adding that wireless element on top of like the fixed and wired infrastructure we have today.
And all of these have the same systemic problem. When we're talking about a built environment that wireless signals don't travel through energy efficient glass or, new building materials particularly well. Um, so as we get this reliance on, and wireless, we're releasing a step change in responsibility for landlords of how'd you bring that signal source insight.
So if you think about it, um, from something that we can really. hopefully relate to, is you wouldn't use, you wouldn't expect to be able to connect to a wifi network. When you're inside the building of a building across the street, you've got two bits of glass. It doesn't propagate that far. You've got the street in between and for nothing else, you really shouldn't be able to connect to the wifi network from the building across the street for, for security purposes, but that the same physical problems exist for, for mobile.
So, um, CBRS is one approach where landlords have much more control because as you mentioned, the frequency, frequency is available, more, uh, more publicly available, so much like wifi. You don't have to pay to own some of the wifi spectrum, but to own some of the mobile spectrum, that's where your efforts are.
Look at the U S side, your sort of, um, fertilizer and 80 and T and T-Mobile sprint merger, um, would they own that spectrum? They own the right to send data over those frequencies. So when you try and bring that into a building. You've got to make sure that you're working with those companies to allow the signal to be in the building.
CBRS uses a similar set of technology. So still sort of looking at how mobile phones can work, but it's using some, some of the spectrum is actually more publicly available that landlords are actually able to make for and use in their building. But as I say, whilst the frequency allocation is slightly different and the ownership of it has its own barriers.
Still, the problem is why the signal doesn't travel through glass wall. Um, so where we're really pushing landlords in that future readiness is, is, mobile and wireless technologies are continuing to evolve in your building, needs to be built upfront. To be able to accommodate that variation and that expansion of mobile and wireless as it grows.
And that's where like really simple things, like just having additional capacity, uh, through the building, through the landlord's infrastructure to, to add more cabling or when you're installing things around, um, network cabling for certain technologies, is there a way that you could look at having more of a, um, a unified system that can propagate multiple different frequencies and multiple different technologies through the, through the building?
So I think it's a really good example of like future readiness, such as you touched on, it's like this isn't about guessing that 5g is the future on this particular frequency. And I'm going to put that in my building and put all my sort of eggs in that basket. It's about like, how do we take a step back and make sure that as, and when these technologies mature to a level that, they're like a definite must have in a building that I, as a landlord, I can rapidly evolve the way my building is set up to deliver those features.
James Dice: [00:37:13] Very cool. Thank you. So where's, Wiredscore that today in terms of deployment, you mentioned Ari, you mentioned 650 million square feet, something like that, in 10 countries, something like
Arie Barendrecht: [00:37:27] that, that that's right. So we, um, we're 650 million square feet across 10 countries and growing. So the ultimate goal is to become a global certification platform for both connectivity and smart and technology.
and we're really excited about, about the footprint. Um, as I've mentioned predominantly for, I think for two reasons, one is, is perspective that we're like really excited as we grow. Like it just continues to help us do our jobs better as the standard bearers as we learn. Um, You know, we learn as we go about what's going really well or not so well, and, and choosing that with our own expertise.
And then I think second is, as I mentioned at the start of, from why I was excited to found the business, it's really around impact. And, you know, we do these back of the envelope calculations and, what our team gets most excited about is this idea that 6 million people work or live in buildings that have been certified by Wiredscore.
Um, and we know that a really significant percentage of the buildings we certify. Make improvements. I think we estimated about two thirds of the buildings that we certify will make improvements to their building based on the recommendations that are provided as part of the certification process. And so, um, yeah, ultimately we feel like we're, we're truly you know, removing friction from buildings and improving tenant experience and buildings.
And that's, that's the coolest part about all of it because, you know, as we spend most of our time freaking out about, about new connectivity technologies and smart technology, the most important thing, and our North star is what can human beings do? when they're in a space that is, you know, removed of friction and they have access to great connectivity and, technology.
And so that that's, that's kind of continues to be our North star is how do we. Influence the built environment to, provide places that people can create and innovate and do amazing things. And, um, and that's, that's the thing we're going to continue to try to do as we grow.
James Dice: [00:39:40] Very cool. Yeah. The analogy for me is with energy benchmarking.
Once you see the initial score is great, but once you see those scores start to improve over time, that's where you get the, the prideful feeling in your career, which is super helpful to, for motivation and an industry like ours. Let's, let's unpack, um, smart score now. So, why did you want to add a second?
Arie Barendrecht: [00:40:08] Yeah, I'll start at the, at the really top level. And then, um, Sandra, I think we've learned a lot about. Smart over the last 12 months, which, which I think you should care. Um, but I think at, at the highest level set context for smart score, um, maybe this is just stating the obvious, but it's a very complicated and difficult time to be investing in or managing real estate.
Um, and of course COVID is served as, as this in a once in a lifetime trend accelerator, beyond our wildest imaginations. And what that means in real estate is that, we believe there's going to be this kind of bifurcated or polarized market, which will be underpinned by a flight to quality of tenants.
Um, so, so we're, we're, we're moving to a, to a situation quickly, you know, New York city now has 17% vacancy in commercial real estate, for example, um, where tenants have the power of choice, and tenants are going to. move to buildings where the building owner takes a real responsibility on providing fantastic experiences to their, occupants.
Um, whether it's an apartment renter or, an office tenants. Um, and we think the best landlords, the winning landlords in this polarized world will use technology to do that. And that the losers in the market are going to kind of fail to deliver a great tenant experiences, failed to deliver cost efficiencies, build, to deliver sustainable operations.
And those buildings and landlords will face increased risk of obsolescence. And we'll be on a slow, but sure decline, uh, in the years to come. so that's, that's what we're kind of seeing in the real estate ecosystem and what we're hearing from landlords. Um, on top of that, I think there's some stress on, on the part of, Real estate companies, because we like, they know, we all know real estate is, is very illiquid and it takes years to plan, build and lease a building to start realizing the longterm income streams that folks are seeking. And technology implementation can be pretty slow and painful. And there's this really fragmented, solution provider landscape out there.
and so it's this really stressful moment where we're landlords know they move slowly. It's hard to navigate the tech solution space and tenants have all the power tenants have the power of choice. and like, there's this massive opportunity as a result of that. Like this bifurcation means that, there are going to be people that are proactive rather than reactive in taking steps right now.
To invest in technology. That's going to make their buildings provide great experience and cost efficiency and future-proof, um, capable and there's buildings that are going to be reactive and they're going to lose. so, so I'll just kind of set the stage and let's say, just continue that it's this once in a lifetime moment where, where this flight to quality will happen, and there's going to be huge disparity between winners and losers, and we have a strong opinion on what, what buildings need to do to be in the winning group.
James Dice: [00:43:28] Cool. That's very bold and I love it. I started to hear more
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:43:32] details. Yeah. Yeah. So I think we set the seed incredibly well, but it sort of, it. Boils down to these sort of three key questions that the industry is asking you, like, firstly, what is a smart building? Um, how'd you implement smart in a building and make sure you get it right.
And, and how do you demonstrate that ROI? And I think, you know, really what we're pushing is setting that direction in the market to answer those questions by the certification. Um, we're not saying that we have the answers, but we have set out the framework and smart school will help owners really understand how they fit into that ecosystem of smart and within, within the landscape, it's going to become, to sort of sort of, uh, driving food a little bit on that is really all we mentioned before.
We sort of set four outcomes of what. We believe a smart building is, um, which much like the time to get connected cost for speed and resiliency, your connection to mobile that we have for Wiredscore. We really believe a smart building has the outcomes of delivering, uh, inspirational experience. It does that in a cost efficient way, it's sustainable and is future proof.
And we use those as the key pillars for how we develop smart school that will measure up into those. So it's that same sort of pivot that these are, what smartphones should deliver then how do we actually break that down into the tangible things that our building needs to be, to deliver against those outcomes.
James Dice: [00:44:54] Is the experience just for the, like the quote unquote occupant or tenant, or is that everyone who sort of does their job, like, does that include a facility manager? Yeah,
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:45:04] so, yeah, that's a great question. So, um, we sort of, if I sort of jumped foods, like we put out. Our framing for what our definition of smart building, which really helps us frame smart school, which is a smart board, delivers outstanding outcomes for all users through digital technology to exceed their evolving expectations.
And you touched on a really good point, like all users, um, whilst there's many different ways that a building can be set up from, you know, if it's an HQ or it's a prospective multi-tenant building, um, depending on whether the landlord is, you know, more of a, a silent, investors require passive investors requiring like a full operation, see there's many different ways of a building being set up, but ultimately you'll have the same types of user costs that you're going to have at the, at the owner level, that sort of portfolio manager you touched on earlier and sort of talk about that difference of coming to things from the portfolio or the asset level.
Um, then the asset manager, then you sort of run into the building operations team where you're looking at the property managers, building engineer, facility managers, and then at the occupier. And I think it's really important even at the occupier state that you split that down. So you're with, as I mentioned, like with the.
The reaction to COVID like you're seeing the role of the, um, CHR becoming more prevalent in office making decisions as well as the CTO. So people that aren't directly involved in being in the building, potentially, uh, a true user of the information that building could provide. Then you have your traditional building employees or someone that works at a 10 and the building that visitors and more and more so as smart buildings as delivering a range of experience, actual guests and members of the public are users of the building.
And I think that's a really, you know, that their notion of a user story or user journey in developing smart features is something that is well as well founded in the industry. But I think really ensuring you have that focus on that full breadth of all users is key to ensure that you're delivering the right technology makeup in your building.
James Dice: [00:47:01] Cool. Is it the same sort of philosophy around new and existing buildings as the Wiredscore one?
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:47:08] Yeah, so, so we're really happy. Uh, the certification works across the full life cycle of a goatee. so that's the only from, from planning food to design and construction through, to in use when it's occupied.
But also really importantly, I think with, with smart is looking at that, um, redevelopment or refurbishment stage of a building, compared to, I guess, other features of building that, that cycle, that time sec was coming down where like investment in technology is now on a single digit year voting scheme.
And, um, the pace of technology change needs to be reacted to as well. So we see that, um, there'll be this continual investment in smart technology and build is not a fit and forget type cycle. So, um, that notion of living like having the certification living with the full life cycle of the building is something we've really strive to deliver it in its creation.
James Dice: [00:47:57] Yeah, I call, I call this our industry's like project mindset. We have a very, uh, everyone's trying to win projects and sell one-time products. And like, what I teach in my course is that's actually the sort of myth and there that's really a smart building is an ongoing program. Right.
Um, so how do you do a year over year updates to the, the
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:48:20] certificate? So, so we run the actual certification space similar with Wiredscore runs on a fixed time period. so for existing buildings, it's every, every two years that, building will get re-certified and with that would come updates in the scorecard.
And as we sort of. Dig down a bit more detail. I can sort of explain how that would evolve, but I think your point that you made before is, is really important. It is, it is a project and all too often, we're seeing buildings approaching things in silos. So they might pick say one of those four outcomes and say, I want to make a sustainable building.
And that will make me smart building. and by going down that approach and not looking at the full breadth of both the users, the functionality they require and the underlying technology, you, you get into a position where you've invested in technology for sustainability, and then you invest in technology for experience, and then you invest in technology to be future-proofed.
And that you're not, having that solid foundation that underpins all of smart to get the true benefits of being ready to be able to deploy it as the requirements and those evolving expectations change. Um, and I think that's a key adamant that, that, that breadth of smart is something that's been underestimated in the market, to date.
James Dice: [00:49:30] Yeah, th this is, uh, this is a really good point you made here Sandra. So when I started my course and really my, I started my business. So I came from the energy management background. Right. And people ask me at the beginning, like, why are you going broad here? And why, why aren't you just sticking with sort of your bread and butter, you know, energy management process and deploying analytics and, you know, working with data and only for the energy management process and, you know, doing M and V there's like a ton of technology.
They're like, why didn't you just start the like analytics for energy management course. And what I've been saying is like, yes, those things are like, I still believe heavily in that sort of. Point solution silo, but where we're headed with this is that if you want a green energy efficient building, you also need a smart building.
And so I believe it's sort of just like an all encompassing, um, an organization needs a strategy that comes up with a user experience, but it also comes up with an end result of efficiency. I think it's really like a breath of fresh air to hear you guys sort of validate that, I guess, uh, because it's been a little bit uncomfortable for me.
Like I coming from the background I came from to then expand and say, you know, I'm going to focus on all of these things. It's a little bit uncomfortable, but it's also. I think it's extremely important. I think in order for a sustainable building to operate, it also needs to be smart. Right. And that's, that's the whole point.
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:51:01] I think you've got that. Right. And that is sort of the problem. One of the problems that was fixed addressed by why it's going digital creativity. There's so many stakeholders with different parts to play and telecommunications fell between the gaps. And I think there's a similar sort of ethos being, if you, if you approach things in silos, you're not going to deliver that overall user experience where, you know, whoever you use versus a facility manager, for example, with energy management systems, they will need input from other technologies and the burden to really make that best decision for where the buildings should go forwards.
If they focus everything on what the energy management system says, they are making that balanced decision or the building as we evolve, won't be able to make that balance decision on how it can best, uh, best operate.
James Dice: [00:51:42] Cool. Yeah, totally. So I said, we'd come back to OT. So, um, so yeah, so OT and this is a, it's really a hairy situation that we have right now.
If I can kind of explain where we're at on the OT side real quick from, from my experience is that you have. It's it's another gap, right? That no one's really thought about. And you have a lot of siloed solution providers, like a building automation system contractor who will come in and install, you know, a dedicated network, right.
Uh, just to get the connectivity in their system running, which is totally rational. And then now you have, the next system coming along, lighting control system, and then the next system coming along, access control or elevators or whatever. Now, all of a sudden you have this, uh, what my friend, Joe calls a hodgepodge of OT networks that are just a total, you know, spaghetti mess.
Right. Um, and so I guess my question is around how you guys handle that piece of the scorecard, and then sort of how that sort of enables a smart building and, and what I've been teaching in my course is that there's actually like two parts of smart, right? So there's the. Infrastructure that enables your user stories.
Like you said, I call them use cases, but same thing, I think, uh, there's infrastructure that can enable or your use cases and how, how, how does that score? Right. Um, and then there's the outcomes themselves. We've designed out use cases, and this is the direction we want to head for our building and house, how we're going to define smart.
Right. And then here's how well those are working. Right. So that's kind of how I think about the scorecard piece. I'd love to hear you guys.
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:53:24] Yeah. So I can probably just say back what you just said to me,
Arie Barendrecht: [00:53:26] but you gotta
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:53:28] say it all, like I said, high school is broken down into two sections. The first is user functionality and the second is technological foundation.
And it's exactly the same as what you said. So reset a breadth of user functionality across sort of six categories. But these are the, of that. Broad range of users. And so we said, here are the smart building user stories. We set out there's around 40 of them. And they're in categories from anything from individual and collaborative productivity for each of wellbeing through to sustainability, looking at maintenance and operation.
So really looking at the full breadth of what the user and the buildings need to have. And for each of those, we've got the user stories and we want to see how technology has been implemented to, execute those use stories that have a great level of functionality. And that's where our technological validation section comes in, which is what is in the building.
How is it put together? But I think what's really key is that itself subdivides into a couple of key areas. One is like, Yeah, what is in the building and how was it set up from a connectivity building systems perspective, everything you just reeled off. Um, and, uh, networking capability are really, we're looking at interoperability.
So how is a common core being used to bring all those systems together? How many of those systems interact with each other and of those systems? What level of access are they giving people from a reporting from a trend analysis perspective or all the way through to levels of automation and, remote control and access.
So that's your sort of physical system. And then on top of that, what are the software interfaces that you're, you're enabling users to interface with those systems? So that sort of covers that one part of operational technology, but touching back to our discussions around like how people approach implementing technology.
I think there's an equal weighting that we've got in that technological foundation around overall strategy. And that has three independent parts. It's like that governance. So where is that project plan? Whereas that master plan of what you're doing with smart, how are you checking it's effective checking, it's still the right, the right topics.
And how are you promoting that to your tenants and users so they can integrate with it. Then two key sub components to that which underpins implemented technology is cybersecurity and they share it. And again, we see these both as top down policy led approaches, which set the strategy that a portfolio or a landlord or an asset needs to have to ensure that that technology has been implemented and brought together by a well organized and well put together.
OT, mindset is also ready to address the cybersecurity concerns that we'll have today and in the future. And also really importantly, Is well set up from what it will do with its data. So not only how it's capturing data spec too, when we talk about personal information, but how it's assimilating that data into like a common structure that can be used to truly represent the building, not only for that same modeling or prediction in the future, but really becoming a tangible value point of view.
And I think that's one point that we really see as a, um, that sort of future proofing point of smart. And we've proved it over the years for connectivity that this data piece or the smart piece will drive value in, in real estate. And, um, we see how you take the operational technology and your strategy, um, the strategic part on top of it to give you like a true data, uh, a true data model of what you have, um, is, is super important to the future proofing of that building.
James Dice: [00:56:54] Cool. I have some questions around architecture, but they're probably more nerdy than we want to get today. So maybe we'll save those for a later discussion.
Arie Barendrecht: [00:57:05] Cool. Um, so might be worth mentioning, um, just in terms of, of the scorecard development and by the way, exciting to hear, um, the way you teach your course and think about the world seems to be really well super, super
James Dice: [00:57:20] aligned.
Yeah. Even everything's Sandra just said, yeah,
Arie Barendrecht: [00:57:23] definitely. Well would come too, but, but we also had the benefit this time round with smart score in a way that. We did it originally, you know, seven years ago at the founding of the company to develop the certification and the definition for smarts. Um, we, we had help and so we were able to bring together, um, what we call it.
The smart council of 30 global landlords are still, um, people like Heinz and British land and Hudson Pacific and rutin, um, Blackstone, John Buck, um, it's, it's a Lend-Lease, um, really fantastic list, and engineering firms. So, Sandra were we add, uh, WSP SP
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:58:08] a calm and yeah.
Arie Barendrecht: [00:58:10] Hm. Yeah. Um, and so, it's been a long process, but we've been able to run it in a way. And Sandra has done an amazing job of kind of getting, you know, there's very distinct and varied opinions on, on this. but being able to get everyone kind of in a virtual room to hash this out and get the industry aligned behind it has been really, um, really useful part of the process.
and so we're really, really excited about that. Like as an example, uh, on the user story side of our certification, we, how many, how many user stories did we start? And we were about
Sanj Ranasinghe: [00:58:46] 150 when we started. Yeah.
Arie Barendrecht: [00:58:50] And have had narrowed down to 40, what we think are the most important and then try to bring some clarity and, and prioritization to what smart means and actuality and in practice.
Um, so it's been out, it's been a lengthy, but we think super effective process. Very
James Dice: [00:59:07] cool. Um, it's super validating to hear that you guys have gone through all of that. Uh, and we've, we've come to the almost same conclusion, uh, cause for me, the, you know, I've done a lot of the development of my course just based on.
how I, or others have just messed up projects in the past. so it's more like deduction not from getting all this input. Well, it's partly getting a lot of input. You know, I have a lot of people reviewing my content when I'm putting it out, but a lot of it's just been deduction based on what I call landmines when people blow projects up.
Um, and so I, I think we've converged from two different, angles, which is really cool. so given my research, I wanted to ask you on smart score real quick, I realized that there are several different scoring mechanisms in our industry. How do you think about sort of smart score in context with the other ones going on?
Arie Barendrecht: [01:00:04] Yeah, I think, look, first and first and foremost, I think it validates that there's there's pain here in the industry and that, as Sandra mentioned, there's a, there's a lack of a common definition, um, and understanding about what smart really means and, and like there's no goal line to target around smart.
Um, and that's obvious, and I think we're interesting seeing. other standards developed in other parts of the world, you know, outside of where Wiredscore operates today, reinforces that this is a global problem. Um, I think we're really excited to see that more transparency is coming to this space. and, and as I said, like, we want.
Ultimately, we want buildings to be designed and managed better so that people can do amazing things, in that space. And so we're excited as the other companies try trying to do the same thing, you know, of course, taking a step back and thinking about, um, certifications and standards. One of the real benefits is a common, simple language that the whole ecosystem can rally around.
and we smart score as the best chance of being that common language and understanding that everyone can share on the real estate side of the table to the technology solution provider side of the table, to the broker in occupant. Um, and, and we're, you know, we have some pretty amazing partners to help, Help us make smart score that kind of global standard.
So we're gonna, we're going to continue to push to make that, uh, make that a reality and, and just glad to see that the space is starting to kind of heat up when it comes to, landlord and developer attention on smarts. And, um, I think a lot of good things will come from it.
James Dice: [01:01:57] Very cool. So what's the status of launch?
Um, you guys have an event coming up. I don't know how exactly the timing will work out with when this is published versus when that happens, but there, you can just talk about it in general at this point,
Arie Barendrecht: [01:02:13] that's true. Either be in a rear view or, or do you want to give a quick?
Sanj Ranasinghe: [01:02:19] Yeah, so we're really excited.
Um, for Wiseco as our, we mentioned were operational in 10 countries right now, but this will be our first global launch. So we are launching across all the markets we operate in, concurrently and it's going to be on April 20th. and it's also going to be our first ever virtual launch for, for reasons that we all are well aware of.
But we're really excited that we've got, um, We've got approaching. I think right now 1300 people signed up to a 10. Um, and, we're going to have a, uh, a panel set out with the, led by the world's sort of most innovative real estate professionals, again, going across that spectrum of landlords and technologists, um, and really getting that full rounded discussion and will be, I guess the biggest part of this would be really excited to announce that buildings have committed to smart score that will be going through that launch.
And we've had really great pickup attraction on that, um, so far in the market and, uh, we're really excited, but won't mention now some of the really high-profile buildings that, uh, we'll get to announce on the day as well. So it'd be, um, we're really looking forward to the launches and an opportunity to really promote the work of the council and the research advice they've done to date as well as those landlords and buildings that are really taking that first step to, to show they're the.
The industry leaders in really what a smart building
Arie Barendrecht: [01:03:38] is
James Dice: [01:03:39] very cool. And we'll have, obviously all link links to these things in the show notes. Uh, well, thanks so much, guys.
This has been been fun, not only to be personally validated, but also to
Arie Barendrecht: [01:03:48] learn,
James Dice: [01:03:49] learn, learn about the scoring systems. So thanks so much for coming on
Arie Barendrecht: [01:03:53] the show. Okay, great. Well, thanks, James. Yeah. Thanks Jan. This is a lot of fun and, uh, keep doing your good work, uh, in this space as well. we'll we love to see it.
James Dice: [01:04:04] All right, friends. Thanks for listening to this episode of the nexus podcast for more episodes like this, and to get the weekly nexus newsletter, which by the way, readers have said is the best way to stay up to date on the future of the smart building industry. Please email@example.com. You can find the show notes for this conversation there as well. Have a great day.