Internet, TV, security cameras, back-office devices: There’s a long laundry list of must-have technologies for multifamily properties today. And residents’ tech needs have only grown as more people have started—and continued—to work from home.
When it comes to installing and managing all these systems, multifamily property owners tend to assume they need a different provider for each one. They might have gotten so used to that process that they don’t realize there’s another way of going about it.
Allbridge maintains it has another, better way: The Raleigh, N.C.-based company serves as the single provider for almost any technology a property needs. While it has focused mainly on the commercial sector (including hospitality, senior living, and mixed use), Allbridge has been branching out into multifamily buildings. In all, it handles about 800 projects a year.
In 2018, Allbridge formed from the merger of three tech solution providers—Bulk TV & Internet, DCI Design Communications, and EthoStream—after all three were acquired by the investment firm Marlin Equity Partners. In 2020, Allbridge acquired Ipanema Solutions, a technology engineering company.
Allbridge aims to take the technology-management burden off of property owners by serving, in effect, as a design-build firm specifically for technology. By bringing a property’s various technologies under its single purview, Allbridge can “help mitigate project risks, increase property value, and improve end users’ lives,” says Jen Yokley, senior vice president, marketing. Its approach also helps control budgets and schedules, she adds.
The company doesn’t just install the tech. It serves as the go-to tech expert, from end to end. “We work with our customers from design and planning through the lifecycle of the building,” Yokley says.
COMPLEX-WIDE TECHNOLOGY SERVICES
At the start of a building project, the company collaborates with the property owners to determine the services and systems they need. “Owners and developers have to think about the technology as a full technology stack, right from the beginning,” says Don Jensen, business development, multifamily and student housing.
Allbridge then creates a few potential technology plans for the entire complex, and the owners select the plan and services they want. The company treats the plan development as part of its pre-sale process, according to Jensen. Owners can keep the plan, or they can hire Allbridge to execute some or all of it. Early on in the process, Allbridge also makes clear what it doesn’t do, such as provide project management solutions.
The wide range of available technologies includes phone systems, video intercoms, video surveillance, and the low-voltage cables that enable our modern tech world. Allbridge can provide security access systems, such as smart locks for common areas and units—so residents can use smartphone apps to remotely unlock package-room doors or their own doors for deliveries. The technology stack also can include TVs and music systems in the building’s shared areas, such as the fitness center, as well as the devices (phones, desktops, laptops, and printers) that the management office needs.
Rather than leaving it to residents to address their individual tech needs themselves, Allbridge’s property-wide technology plan provides network convergence—that is, a single network for phone, video, and data communication services, as opposed to segmented networks built for each service. The converged network includes every single tech, whether it’s wired or wireless. If work-from-home residents want to type on their laptops beside the property’s pool while sending documents to the printers in their units, Allbridge can enable that connectivity securely.
With the plan in place, Allbridge’s team members then install almost all the solutions themselves, rather than outsourcing that work to third-party providers. “We not only design it, we also deploy it,” Jensen says.
Post-installation, Allbridge provides a customer-support team. So if, for example, a multifamily building’s leasing agent has trouble with the office printer, that person can call the company that installed it, not a random repair service.
Jensen points to a multifamily project in California: “The general contractor loves the fact that they have one person to call for oversight of all the trades,” he says. “They’re not calling the low-voltage cabler, the wireless provider, the TV provider.” Instead, the GC just calls Allbridge, which both installs the services and ensures their interoperability, so they work together seamlessly.
“Accountability starts and stops with Allbridge,” Jensen says. “And the finger pointing goes away.”