(TNS) -- The official description of this week's Realcomm conference is heavy on industry jargon. It purports to be about "the intersection of technology, innovation and real estate operations."
But Lisa Woods added juice to the jargon, snapping it into perspective.
"We have over 40 billion square feet represented at this conference," Realcomm's vice president of strategy and business development said as a tech-charmed crowd floated around her at the San Jose Convention Center.
"We have attendees from Australia and South Africa, from Europe and the Middle East, and our job is to show how these guys -- who represent millions and millions of square footage -- how they can run those buildings more intelligently so that technologies can talk to one another, so systems can talk to one another, and so they can save energy and millions of dollars in energy bills."
There's a revolution in the commercial real estate universe, where the "internet of things" has come home to roost. Facilities managers have no choice but to get out of the boiler room and confront the new reality of connectivity, which is why Carlsbad-based Realcomm is hosting the conference through Friday at the convention center.
"Energy is hot," said Woods. "Cybersecurity is hot -- it's becoming a more and more critical part of running these buildings. All these systems are coming together."
Technically, there are two side-by-side conferences, which have attracted about 1,600 attendees who wander the convention center with their iPads, checking out displays featuring security robots and explaining data-driven leasing.
One conference is dubbed Realcomm and is focused on technological solutions for budgeting, managing documents and mortgage arrangements, as well as HR functions -- the nuts and bolts of commerce, from which the "comm" in Realcomm is derived. The other is called IBcon and is about exploring the world of fully connected "smart" buildings -- the "Intelligent Buildings," from which stems the "IB" of the title.
Thursday's events revolved around a Smart Buildings Best Practice Showcase -- dubbed a "supersession" -- with representatives on hand from 47 "of the world's most progressive and successful implementations of smart buildings, portfolios and campuses," as the conference program puts it.
These projects -- including a hospital in Cleveland, a sports stadium in Texas, a skyscraper in Shanghai, a casino in Melbourne, Australia, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Campus-Wide Platform for Automated Analytics -- "represent the next generation of open, interoperable, integrated and IP-centric buildings."
Representing the Rudin family, a real estate dynasty in New York, was Rhea Moss, head of products for Prescriptive Data, a spinoff of the Rudin Management Co.
Prescriptive's new Nantum software is definitely interoperable, integrated and IP-centric: Rudin will use it to monitor and manage seven buildings totaling 5.5 million square feet around Manhattan.
"We're taking data for multiple systems -- building management, utility management, temperature control, lighting, visitors security systems, elevator systems, fire emergency systems -- taking all that data and putting it in one place, on one platform, so it's mobile-accessible," said Moss. "You can get to it from your iPad."
Aaron Lovejoy, also of Prescriptive Data, called the software "an analytical brain."
"We're trying to close that loop between engineer and hardware," Lovejoy said. —?... A lot of the old-guard engineers, they're used to working with boilers and lights and windows. They've got to learn this new thing now. All these guys in the business world -- the real estate owners -- are really just figuring out these changes that are happening, figuring out how to respond."
After getting briefed on Prescriptive's software, Sean Cunningham, IT director for Nashville-based Holladay Properties, couldn't have agreed more: "We don't have anything like that," he said.
Holladay manages medical facilities around the country and has a three-man IT staff, he said.
He and Bryan Monahan, a property manager and broker with Holladay, clearly were fascinated by the convention and the possibilities presented by it: "Maybe we're lagging a little behind," Monahan said, "but that's an OK place to be. We're not wedded to any one thing. We can look around and see that, OK, this is the direction in which things are going. It gives us some more options."
©2016 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.