OpenTech Alliance launches INSOMNIAC SmartGate, a new integration for the OpenTech IoE (Internet of Everything). When combined with INSOMNIAC CIA, SmartGate allows owners and operators to receive alert notifications when a gate or other device does not open or close when requested, or when it is opened or closed manually.Continue reading
Be Heard! How Voice-Enabled Technology Can Improve the Self-Storage Customer Experience
By: Jon Loftin, OpenTech Alliance Vice President and IoE Product Owner
Artificial intelligence is touching more facets of our lives, and we need to start thinking about how it can improve the self-storage industry and our customers’ experience. Read how voice-enabled devices work and the functions they offer.
The way we interact with computers changes approximately every 10 years. First, we used punch cards, then keyboards and monitors, then the mouse, which was followed by touchscreens. Each of these changes meant learning new skills but ultimately improved the way we engage with technology.
The next user interface is voice-driven. Think of Alexa, Google Home, and Siri. A voice-activated device can enable all kinds of hands-free functions at self-storage facilities, from opening gates or doors to answering data-specific questions such as, “Who was the last person who entered the property?” Enabling these types of abilities is like giving the manager an office assistant, allowing him to quickly perform actions and tasks.
AI for Business
While voice interactions with AI assistants are fast becoming commonplace in the home, Amazon is looking to bring the same benefits to the commercial sector with Alexa for Business. The service has three main components: management tools, an application program interface to integrate with existing applications and infrastructure, and Echo devices, which can be configured for individual tasks or used in shared locations such as conference rooms or lobbies.
- E-mail management, which allows you to read, reply and manage e-mails
- Website monitoring, which allows you to learn the status of your websites
- Schedule management, which allows you to set reminders and confirm completion for tasks such as self-storage facility maintenance
Because these devices are cloud-based, they can easily be enhanced and expanded. Cloud-based systems allow for easy improvements without the high cost of upgrading older PC-based technology. Self-storage operators who are using antiquated tools should investigate newer platforms that allow for additional functionality, increased security and lower cost of ownership. Some are already experiencing multiple benefits by employing voice-enabled devices at their locations.
“We’ve seen numerous times where overcoming a language barrier sealed the deal in securing a rental,” says Natolie Ochi, president of SKS Management, which operates 23 self-storage properties in California. “We see future benefits of voice-driven functions at our properties, from having Alexa open our gates to giving the manager a daily briefing report, setting reminders, and so much more.”
Here are some common ways to use voice-enabled devices and platforms at your self-storage locations:
Language translation. If a customer who doesn’t speak English enters your facility, you can ask the device to translate your speech into the customer’s language and vice versa, omitting the language barrier and facilitating a unit rental. It vastly improves the customer experience for non-English speakers.
Control other facility devices. Voice technology can also be used to control thermostats, gates, doors and more. For example, you can simply say, “Open the front gate.” There’s no need to stop what you’re doing to find the clicker or open the access software to perform this simple function.
You can even ask the AI to begin the workday, which might include turning on lights, starting the coffee-maker, telling you the weather or breaking news, or relaying the number of rentals the facility had via the self-serve kiosk or online reservation system during the night.
Data security and privacy are significant concerns today with all this new technology. Amazon and Google say their assistants only start recording information after they’ve heard the wake phrases “Alexa” or “Hey Google.” Users can delete any information that was stored.
The attack vector for smart speakers is small, meaning a hacker would have to access Amazon or Google or your physical device. Your laptop and Web browser, which store more critical information, are much more open to cyber-threats than a voice-controlled device.
Adapting to Demand
“Amazon, Apple, and Google are investing billions to make voice recognition the main way we communicate with the Internet. We need to take proactive steps to ensure we’re part of this new shift in user experience,” says Robert A. Chiti, CEO and president of OpenTech Alliance, a provider of self-storage kiosks, call-center services, and other technology.
Investigate the benefits of incorporating voice-enabled devices into your day-to-day operation, including how people use them and how they can enhance the customer experience. As with any new technology, it’s important to choose an open platform that allows for integrations with many devices as opposed to a closed, end-to-end solution.
Just as Web and mobile search displaced the Yellow Pages in how customers find and use self-storage, voice-enabled devices can drive even greater change. As consumers use these platforms, the more functionality they’ll expect. Potential self-storage users will ask their device for the closest facility, then to reserve a unit, pay their rent, schedule a move-out or perform other functions. Facility operators should think about how they’ll use this new technology to stay competitive in a quickly evolving industry.
OpenTech Launches SmartEye
December 12th, 2018 – Phoenix, AZ, OpenTech Alliance, the leading developer of innovative smart connected technology solutions for the self-storage industry announced the launch of SmartEye, a tenant and asset protection service, that uses Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), Machine Learning and a Virtual Security Team (VST) to detect, intercept, and alert intrusions at self-storage facilities.
According to Jim Kwitchoff, Regional Vice President for Life Storage, “OpenTech’s SmartEye security monitoring service, powered by BlueEye, has taken our facility monitoring to another level. Combining Artificial Intelligence with good old-fashioned eyes on the target and live voice, SmartEye has proven to be an effective tool that we can use to ensure a safe and secure environment for our customers. The OpenTech Sales and Service teams are responsive at all times and have worked non-stop to meet our needs. We are very particular at Life Storage about the companies with which we do business, and OpenTech has met our high standards.”
SmartEye works with your existing CCTV systems to detect bad behavior as it is happening at your facility and immediately alerts a Virtual Security Team (VST). The VST is standing by to respond to the perpetrator with voice commands as well as notifies the local authorities who can immediately respond to the incident. The VST can also respond to visitors with precautionary or greeting messages reinforcing that security is a priority and enhancing customers assurance their belongings are secure.
The system uses A.I. technology to learn from the incidents and tags events that the VST should ignore, such as lights turning on and off. A.I. combined with a VST gives owners and operators peace of mind knowing their tenants and facility assests are being monitored by a professionally trained security team and incidents are being addressed in real-time opposed to reactively looking through recorded footage or relying on untrained personnel to respond to incidents.
Jon Loftin, Vice President and IoE Product Owner at OpenTech Alliance commented, “We have been following Technology advancements in A.I. and how it can benefit self-storage security. We are impressed with the results at several self-storage locations where SmartEye is implemented. Operators are reporting facilities that once experienced frequent issues have had no incidents!”