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national   /   May 29, 2018

Paul Bubny
By: Paul Bubny

Bringing Smart Building Tech to the Intercom

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Like a fair number of innovations, it began with something that stuck out like a sore thumb. Then, with Clareo Networks, a technology infrastructure provider for residential real estate, Cyrus Claffey was going through some beautifully-appointed apartments in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights neighborhood. In the kitchens of those apartments, though, were push-button intercoms that wouldn’t have been out of place 40 or 50 years ago.

“I bet you this could be done better,” Claffey recalled thinking. Not only were the old-school intercoms cumbersome to use, from the standpoint of building owners they were also costly to install and a nuisance to maintain.

Enter ButterflyMX, a cloud-based smartphone intercom platform that replaces the old network of crackly, wall-mounted kitchen handsets, with a front-door touchscreen that provides a single point of contact for tenants and visitors.

AvalonBay selected the ButterflyMX platform for its first AVA-branded project in 2013, and has since made widespread use of it. The developer’s belief in the platform is one factor in its acceptance by other large apartment owners and managers nationally. “What’s good for AvalonBay will probably be good for the next guy,” said Claffey, CEO of ButterflyMX.

There’s also its impact on the residential experience, which extends to making package delivery more convenient and less worrisome. “The ability to use it easily on smartphones is what has driven acceptance,” Claffey stated.

From the standpoint of property owners and managers, there’s also the platform’s ability to integrate with software systems such as Yardi. It enables managers and residents alike to track activity, via features such as a database of door-release events, with a time/date stamp and picture of every visitor let in via the system.

Although designed initially for residential use, the ButterflyMX platform has also begun making its way into office, with about two dozen properties now making use of it. In that context, it provides “a whole new world of data and analytics,” said COO Matthew Knoff. “We even have one building that’s using it to figure out when to clean the carpets, based on foot traffic.”

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About the Author

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism.
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