Wednesday, September 27, 2017

BuildingLink Announces 4,000th Building Milestone

BuildingLink, a pioneer in technology solutions for residential property management, is pleased to announce that 4,000 buildings – and counting – have subscribed to its platform. In 2017, the company added more than 700 buildings, including its 1,644th building in New York City, and its 1st building in Dubai. BuildingLink's ongoing commercial success solidifies the company's position as a driving force in the industry. The broad acceptance of the platform provides the company with a diverse pool of customer feedback to transform into advanced innovations.

"Reaching our 4,000th subscribing building is an exciting milestone for us, as a company!" says Jerry Kestenbaum, CEO. "We're grateful for the valuable feedback we receive from our knowledgeable – and growing – customer base. Their insights are paramount in guiding us to deliver the best possible products and solutions."

From the beginning, BuildingLink established a reputation for delivering a personalized experience across various customer interactions, from implementations and trainings to ongoing customer support. In 2017, the company increased its Support team to ensure that this standard of excellence in customer service is preserved for its customers. "Our invaluable Support team is responsible for the strong relationships we've built with our customers, which have been a major contribution to our success," says Sr. Vice President, Fran Besdin.

To maintain its commitment to innovation, the company also grew its Development team to 55 technologists and launched its newest initiative, BuildingLink Labs. With a focus on cutting-edge technologies, BuildingLink Labs is further developing a package management OCR solution (ImageR™), advanced sensor-solutions (Aware by BuildingLink™), and voice interfaces for building activities (BuildingLink Alexa Voice Skill). "We're a future-driven company, focused on solving the challenges of today, and proactively tackling the challenges of tomorrow," says Kestenbaum. "We're also investing in key partnerships with innovative companies across a number of high-value initiatives, including: energy management, renter's and homeowner's insurance, elevator sensing and operations, and artificial intelligence (AI)."
For more information or to request a demo please visit www.buildinglink.com.

Friday, May 12, 2017

What's on our Roadmap for 2017?


Yes, we know it's May already; we've been busy!

We’re so excited about the technology and solutions we are building for you in 2017 that we decided to devote an entire blog post to share some of the highlights of what you can expect.

It’s a fantastic list – an ambitious undertaking! But, since we’ve now grown our development team to 43 persons – including some of the best technologists anywhere – we are confident in our ability to create and deliver the below “magic”!

Here’s an outline of the six areas where you can expect exciting improvements:

1. Turbocharged Communications
...because property managers don’t have time for all that remembering, composing, correcting, and sending.
You communicate a lot. It takes a lot of time, and we know that. So, we are working on developing swift and easy ways for you to communicate with residents and employees, via:
  • Segmented Recipient Groups – Need to send communications only to residents with pets or residents with expired insurance policies? Or, what about communications only to front desk staff? Soon you’ll be able to narrow down your e-mail recipients to these, and to as many other niche groups that you can think of!  In progress
     
  • E-mail Content on Repeat – Save time and ensure consistent high quality with standardized e-mail text and formatting to use over and over again - like signatures, sentences, paragraphs, etc. - and create templates for communications (i.e. birthday greetings, emergency notices, and many other communications).  Summer
     
  • Scheduling and Automation – New rules-bound automated processes will empower us to perform certain actions based on YOUR specific criteria – set by YOU. You set the trigger, you set the action, we do the rest! – like automatically sending a welcome e-mail to new residents, or a reminder email for insurance renewals that are 60 days from expiring. Autumn
“Automation” is a big word for us at BuildingLink. You will be hearing a lot more about it – but not in this issue.
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2. “Know and Go” Management Tools
...because busy property managers need the insights to make the right decisions, and to take action from anywhere, at any time.
Empowering property managers with smarter views of their operations and more accessible management tools has got to be a good thing, right? We’re working on delivering to management more:
  • Intuitive Dashboards & Analytics – Better understand what is working well, and what needs attention – including extensive benchmarking against buildings similar to yours, courtesy of BuildingLink’s expanded Manager Dashboard! Initial data addresses diverse performance metrics for core operations, resident engagement, communications quality, etc. In progress
     
  • Even More Manage-by-App Power – Our GEO mobile app will keep getting stronger….and stronger. Portable power for approving postings & amenity reservations, updating shift logs, filing incident reports, and sending emergency broadcasts…it’s all coming in 2017! In progress
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3. Doubling Down on Resident Engagement
...because creating positive interactions and touch points between residents, staff, and community is a very good thing – for everyone!
Lots on our agenda here:
  • In-App Messaging – Enhancing two-way Resident – Front Desk/Office/Management communication. Summer
     
  • Class Sign-ups & Space / Room Reservations – Adding the ability for residents to register / sign up for classes. Autumn
     
  • Mobile App: Resident Lifestyle & Convenience Services – Integrating neighborhood vendors and building services (i.e. housekeeping or pet sitting) curated by building management, and conveniently accessible!   In progress and ongoing
     
  • Intelligent Living – Giving your residents a taste of the future with sensor-enabled activity dashboards like Aware-FC for fitness centers, and optional voice interfaces (Amazon Echo) for building activities. In progress
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4. Efficient Vendor Management (Yeah, it really can be!)
...because so little has changed in the last decade as far as efficient tools for managing vendors…maybe, it’s time already for a bit of BuildingLink help.
  • Simplified Vendor Insurance Tracking – Our vendor insurance tracking feature will simplify the process of requesting, storing, and reviewing Certificate of Insurance (COI) to minimize compliance risks for busy property managers.  Autumn/Winter
     
  • Easy Online Purchase Orders – Bring consistency and transparency to your building’s purchasing activities, and identify purchasing patterns and opportunities to save money.  Summer/Autumn
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5. “Near-Magic” Solutions for your Busiest Activities
… because we finally figured out how to make them happen! – Yea! You’ll never want to go back to the old way!
These solutions are being built – your staff will love them:
  • Painless Package Management – Empower your staff to manage all aspects of package tracking from arrival to pick-up via our OCR solution, and keep your residents engaged with notifications. Save time! Save space (with short pick-up times)! Ensure accuracy! In progress
     
  • Rapid Recurring Visitor Check-ins – Efficiently identify and monitor all authorized recurring visitors and contractors on premises to reduce administrative time – and free up front desk resources – to focus on greeting and tending to residents and visitors. Autumn/Winter
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6. Informed Living via “Smart Building Sensors”
…because, as a property manager, what you don’t know can hurt you, and does all the time!
Our newest technology initiative, “Aware!™ by BuildingLink” will empower property managers to make intelligent decisions by incorporating a growing selection of activity and environmental sensors, in areas (or on equipment) they want to monitor, and setting up real-time alerts.  In progress

Our first solution, Aware-FC™, is a set of sensors for your “Fitness Center” equipment. See exercise equipment usage patterns, replace underused equipment with more popular choices, or monitor air comfort levels. Residents, too, can check their BuildingLink App to see whether their favorite machine is available!

Aware-FC is our first “sensor solution” – and it's currently in use across 14 client fitness centers! Other sensor solution kits we will be working on in 2017 include environmental monitoring, leak detection, and elevator operations.

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Six great areas of innovation –  which ones are most important to you?  Feel free to give us your comments and questions, or to suggest if there is something important that you think we’ve missed – because 2018’s roadmap planning will be here before you know it! E-mail us at roadmap@buildinglink.com.

Monday, May 1, 2017

BuildingLink Hires Alexandria Pollock to Lead West Coast Expansion

BuildingLink, an online software innovator in residential property management solutions, announced its expansion to the West Coast with the hiring of Alexandria "Lexie" Pollock as West Coast Regional Sales Manager. Alexandria comes to the company with nearly a decade of property management experience, specializing primarily in the management of luxury high-rise condominiums. As the former General Manager for Marina City Club in Marina del Rey, Alexandria brings significant expertise in managing the daily operations of diverse and complex residential properties, including seniors who are "aging in place" in their condominiums. "We are really excited to have someone of Lexie's talents, experience, energy, and very high standards on our team, especially at the current time of tremendous innovation at BuildingLink," reports Jerry Kestenbaum, the Founder and CEO of BuildingLink.
Alexandria's career in property management began with Seabreeze Management Company, Inc. in 2007, where she was the General Manager for various properties throughout Los Angeles. "I was fortunate to be a client of BuildingLink's for many years, and to see firsthand how this platform transformed the operation of communities. I am excited to be a part of a company that focuses its energy on the next decade of multi-family living, and on how to improve and enhance the daily lives of residents in their homes," says Pollock.
"We've got big plans for Lexie!" says Kestenbaum. "Beyond her geographic responsibilities, she has a real enthusiasm and aptitude for promoting a range of our high-value initiatives that are international in scope, such as our 'Aware by BuildingLink®' advanced sensor-solutions initiatives, and our technology-enabled lifecycle offerings for senior independent living and other demographics."
BuildingLink is the gold standard for property managers looking to enhance the total experience of people living in, working at, or managing luxury residential properties. Its innovative web-based platform is currently used in over 3,800 properties worldwide, offering the ultimate in efficient management, flawless communication, and enhanced living experiences for residents. BuildingLink is also a recognized industry leader in adapting and integrating state of the art technology – including, OCR, mobile apps, biometric scanners, voice recognition, and front desk key lockbox systems – to upscale residential communities in 34 states and globally, across 14 countries.
If you would like more information about the BuildingLink platform, please contact Alexandria Pollock at 877.501.7117 ext. 608, or via email at alexandria@buildinglink.com.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Bells and Whistles for your Custom Fields!

So, we’ve been kind of proud of the way we have built the BuildingLink database, to be extensible by letting customers add their own data fields – whether to physical apartments, leases, personal dates, and data. You’ve made great use of this function – adding a total of 21,470 custom fields to date!

But, you’ve been letting us get away with “custom field murder” … we’ve only given you two types of fields: a text box field, and a date field.

Seriously?

Okay, well today we are going to start to make it up to you, with the FIRST of THREE really useful Custom Field Updates.

Custom Field Update #1 - New Data Types

We have two words for you: Boolean …. and ... Numeric!

BOOLEAN: When you go to define your custom fields, you can now select a Boolean type (see Wikipedia – or just think “true/false, yes/no, or on/off) and have users select between your two choices with a quick radio button click: “Is this person a health club member? ( ) Yes  ( ) No”

Pretty simple, right? Bet you can’t believe we didn’t have that yet. – Well, we didn’t!

NUMERIC:  You can define a numeric field for your numbers instead of using a general input field. Why? So you can specify cool “number-like things”:

Numeric data types will allow you to limit a field to only accept numbers, and to include currency symbols and decimal places. This is particularly useful for tracking information about monthly dues, rent amounts, square footage, number of shares – or any fields that should be used specifically to track numeric data.

Custom Field Update #1A – New Input Formats for Text Fields

And now, we have just four words for you: Drop down and Radio Button!

It’s been great having text boxes for your custom fields, where you can enter anything you like for any resident record. But what if you don’t WANT to be able to enter anything you’d like? What if you are just tired of typing in the same values over and over again? Well, then you are the reason we have added two new “Input Formats”, giving you three to choose from now:

TEXT BOX: Sometimes, you need the complete flexibility to type anything you want into a blank text box. This can range from tracking specific details about a unit’s construction, to writing in a Resident’s Access Card or Key FOB number. Our standard text box data-type will continue to accommodate these use cases.

DROP DOWN: However, other information needs to be tracked in a more standardized way – usually if there is a specific list of options that could answer a given question. Our new drop down list data-type allows you to define what options are available for a specific field, limiting the range of options to standardize your data, while allowing enough flexibility for you to capture the information that you need! You might use this display mode to define the condition of a piece of equipment (i.e. Dishwasher: (New, Good, Worn, Replace)) or, to track something’s state (i.e. Membership Dues: (Paid in Full, Partial Payment, Due, In Arrears)).

RADIO BUTTON: Finally, our new radio button display option will best be utilized in cases where there are a few possible options to choose from, like marking an apartment as 1, 2, or 3 bedrooms, or indicating a resident’s preferred greeting (was that Ms., Mrs., or Miss?).

Okay, so that’s the FIRST of THREE really useful Custom Field Updates. (You did remember that we promised you three, right? Stay tuned for the next update, in about 2-3 weeks. It is a mucho powerful one!

Have questions? Want to know more? Email us at support@buildinglink.com.



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Data Privacy in a "Leaky" World: A Regulatory Update for our EU and Canadian Clients

Property management depends on having both fluid and timely access to data – whether for payments and arrears, maintenance work, moves, and a host of other events that take place in a building or for pertinent resident information. At the same time, data privacy regulations and expectations call for limits on access to personal data to keep it protected.

Integrity and trust are at the core of BuildingLink. We are dedicated to ensuring that the right data gets to the right people at the right time, and we are taking every measure possible to ensure our clients’ personal data and privacy is protected. With BuildingLink’s growing worldwide presence, we’ve seen an increased emphasis – both market-driven and regulatory – on ensuring client data protection and data access controls.

While everyone is entitled to an expectation that their personal data is protected, property managers of buildings located in the EU and Canada have an extra bar to clear regarding what they do with, and where they put, their residents’ data. This update is aimed at advising all clients, and especially EU and Canadian clients, how BuildingLink helps them meet that bar.


'Layering on' BuildingLink Data Protections

We’ve built (and continue to improve) our platform with your privacy in mind, by creating multiple “layers” of customizable options for crafting data access, use, and privacy rules that work for your property. At the lowest level, the platform provides controls for physical access to the BuildingLink site and data. All users are limited to logging in only to specific computers in specific physical locations via our “authorized computers” module. At a more micro level, you can set up niche, customized data access permissions for owners, managers, renters, and employees, according to what they need to perform their functions. For example, elevator operators could be given one level of access, while maintenance workers could be given another, according to the situation requirements. 

BuildingLink screen options enable contact functions without revealing contact information. In this way, it is possible to email a resident without divulging their email address, or call a resident without disclosing their phone number or other personal information. For further data protection, you can set up a system that flags data access and changes. It is possible to track the disclosure and integrity of data by enabling notifications upon access to, or modification of, data. (One possibility is setting up the system to send out an email to residents when any of their personal data is modified!)


Taking Your Software to Europe? Don't Forget Your "Privacy Shield"!

Maintaining balance to the extent that satisfies international data transfers across the Atlantic also requires an understanding of the law and what being compliant entails. It’s important to be up-to-date on data privacy because some major changes have just come into effect. The EU – U.S, Privacy Shield replaced Safe Harbor as the standard for sanctioned transfers of personal data between the European Union and the United States.


A Really Brief History Lesson: The Rise and Demise of Safe Harbor

From 2000 to 2015, the Safe Harbor Agreement governed the legal transfer of personal data from EU member countries to the United States. However, concerns about U.S. government surveillance programs – and the way social media companies transferred personal data across the Atlantic – brought the program’s effect into question. 

These concerns were at the center of a suit brought by an Austrian Facebook user, Max Schrems, that was referred by the Irish High Court to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in June 2015 (case number: C-362/14). He argued that the United States does not provide “adequate protection”, and that U.S. surveillance programs like the NSA’s PRISM run counter to individual data protection. 

The court agreed with the plaintiff, and invalidated the Safe Harbor Agreement. 


Privacy Shield to the Rescue

In February 2016, the EU Commission announced the new framework called EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, and released the requirements for its certification. As of August 1, 2016, American companies could certify themselves as compliant.

Privacy Shield is a new program that provides a framework for the transfer of data from the European Union to the United States. (It replaces the recently invalidated Safe Harbor Principles.) There are several guidelines that a company must adhere to and include in their privacy policy in order to be certified under this shield. The goal is to safeguard private user information, and prevent the unauthorized dissemination of data. While certification under the EU–U.S. Privacy Shield is voluntary, once a company does certify, those guidelines are enforceable by law. This assures EU users that their personal information will be safe and secure in any data transfer to a certified U.S. company.


What's the Same and What’s Different about “Privacy Shield”?

Though it’s a new program, the core of Privacy Shield is the same as that of Safe Harbor. Both were established as a self-certification program based on seven primary principles for legal data transfers: (1) notice, (2) choice, (3) accountability for onward transfer, (4) security, (5) data integrity & purpose limitation, (6) access, and (7) recourse. However, in light of Safe Harbor’s shortcomings, there are additional avenues for enforcement, including notice, opt-out options, reviews, an independent ombudsman, and EU citizens’ enhanced redress options.

Accordingly, any business that aspires to certification must publicize its data management policy on its site, and then conform to it in its day-to-day practices. This doesn’t mean that it is etched in stone forever! The company can make changes, so long as it notifies the people whose data it collects in advance. If it fails to provide that notice, the FTC can take it to task. Along with the notice about its practices, the company has to provide a way for people to opt-out if they are not comfortable with the way their data is to be handled. 

Additional enforcement comes through the new supervision mechanism that stipulates compliance reviews by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The consequences for not being found in compliance could extend from sanctions by the FTC to removal from the list of Privacy Shield approved businesses. Another external check on compliance comes in the form of a new privacy ombudsman, who can hear complaints and queries from EU citizens. This is an important component of the program. It promises that Europeans will have different channels for communicating their concerns about their data usages. 

BuildingLink is proud to say that we fully live up to the Privacy Shield principles, and are listed among the certified Privacy Shield entities.


Heading North of the border? Say hello to PIPEDA!

Canada has its own set of regulations governing data privacy requirements. The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA or the PIPED Act) governs how private sector organizations collect, use, and disclose personal information in the course of commercial business. In the real estate property management space, this has implications for both property managers and software products aimed at those managers. As one example, BuildingLink has added a series of data-aging filters to restrict access to resident activity data that is older than 30 days. The good news is, you don't have to be Canadian to take advantage of our data-aging filters. – They are an option for all BuildingLink clients!


The Data-Privacy BOTTOM LINE: What is Expected of You

Being compliant really boils down to this: be clear about what personal data comes through your system – and how you are using it – so that people fully understand, and cannot later say they didn’t realize that their data was being collected. Keep up the code of conduct you set! If you have to deviate due to some change in your business operations, provide people with clear notice, so they may choose to opt-out.

The above – and additional options – are all available on BuildingLink’s flexible platform, which allows the site manager to make sure that all data access and data use is purpose-built. Our BuildingLink team is happy to work with you to deliver a solution that is optimized to achieve your preferred balance of convenience and security. Contact us at support@buildinglink.com to learn more.