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Smart Home Technology - High-Tech, AI-Driven Security Is What Millennial Home Buyers Want, Survey Shows

Millennials are the target generation of homebuyers for many property developers today. They are the ones who are more likely to look for...


Millennials are the target generation of homebuyers for many property developers today. They are the ones who are more likely to look for new homes – either to leave their parents’ nests for, or to raise a family in.

Multiple reports and surveys substantiate this. One such report based on transaction data by real estate network IQI Global published in March this year, showed that in Malaysia, millennials account for 70% of purchases at new housing projects, 53% of sub-sale real estate purchases and 55% of rentals. [1]

With the rapid rise and growth of technological advancement, especially in the area of artificial intelligence (AI), widening the array of smart home products -- everything from intelligent doorbells to kitchen appliances, to security devices – studies have also found that this new generation of homebuyers want their new property purchases to be equipped with smart home technology to ensure safety, convenience and sustainability. [2]

High-Tech Measures To Guarantee Home Security
A recent survey conducted jointly by The Star and Forest City found that millennial’s tech-saturated upbringing is reflected in the survey results. The survey shows that many of them would opt for homes that are equipped with high-tech security such AI and facial recognition network system. 39% of respondents between ages 21-40 agreed high-tech security would guarantee around-the-clock monitoring, while another 39% said it would be more effective to prohibit unregistered and unknown persons from entering the neighbourhood. The respondents also indicated that high-tech security is the way forward because with on-going research and development, technology is constantly evolving and improving.

The survey, which ran for nine days starting May 20 and saw more than 1,000 respondents, sought to find out what today’s homebuyers are looking for. Overall, the results showed that adequate crime prevention measures (such as using high-tech security) as well as convenient access to amenities (such as shopping malls, restaurants and groceries) came up as the top factors that would influence the majority of respondents in their decision in buying a future home.

Picking up on this trend, a number of property developments in Malaysia have made strides towards introducing smart security solutions in their latest projects. In 2017, a Malaysian property developer, through a partnership with Telekom Malaysia and Iskandar Investment Berhad, launched an Integrated Operations Centre (IOC) in its East Ledang development in the Iskandar Puteri region in Johor. The IOC serves as a centralized command centre to manage smart security services, including around-the-clock surveillance monitoring and license plate recognition cameras. [3]

In November last year, another established local developerannounced that it will be incorporating futuristic smart home security systems in its newest landed residential development. [4]

Country Garden’s developments in Malaysia, such as Forest City and Central Park in Johor, and Diamond City in Semenyih have also adopted high-tech approaches in forming their security systems. All three have AI-supported system locking systems, facial recognition networks and multi-tiered security.

Shifting Its Role To Better Provide High-Tech Security Solutions
With its role shift from developer to city operator [5], Forest City is similarly switching gears to meet modern homebuyers’ requirement for high-tech security solutions – placing greater emphasis now on people-oriented security solutions.

The role shift comes with a renewed emphasis on the welfare and safety of homebuyers, while the city seeks innovative ways to develop sustainably with the goal of contributing to greater economic vitality for the region and creating a stable and healthy city development ecosystem.

Forest City’s high tech security solutions include multi-level defences that are supported by technology such as facial recognition, all-encompassing video surveillance, smart sensors, and augmented reality (AR) realization technologies -- all focusing on the use of sophisticated security systems and the adoption of tried-and-tested technologies for its residents’ peace of mind.

With the focus on “Smart” concept, the development also deploys video intelligent analysis systems and eagle eye cameras, to monitor human traffic in real time using face recognition and AR real-time realization technologies in public areas, such as the sales gallery, beach area, and water park, and beyond. Moreover, Forest City strives to leverage scientific and technological innovations and continuous investment to build a liveable safe island from four aspects:

  1. build a network of sensors; 
  2. establish a data platform; 
  3. form a management system and 
  4. develop multi-tier business applications

Through the network of sensors, it is able to receive information on various elements in the community including people, vehicles and other features of the city. With functions similar to the IOC, the information would then be accumulated and redistributed for monitoring and continual improvements via a centralized database.

To date, the basic construction and development of Forest City has formed its preliminary scale. The project’s first island, known as “Smart City, Safe Island”, is now fully occupied and thriving, with a five-star hotel, IBS plant, international school and commercial areas with over 100 retail tenants with various business lines on its premises. On the mainland, it features a five-star hotel and two designer 18-hole golf courses. Forest City is also an internationally renowned venue for international conferences and sports events. In 2019, Forest City has been recognised as one of the winners in IDC Smart City Asia Pacific Awards (SCAPA) with the award titled “Top Smart City Project for Smart Buildings”.


Security At Your Fingertips
Meanwhile, with the advancement of smartphone technology comes the emergence of property mobile applications, or “prop-apps”. Both locally and internationally, prop-apps are seen as an inevitable replacement for traditional security monitoring and neighbourhood intercom systems, and many property developers are working with tech companies to move towards managing their developments through a single smartphone app.

For example, the i-Neighbour Smart Community app created by local company TimeTec Group has an array of Internet of Things (IOT) functions, including a visitor management system, in-app intercom, panic button and barrier gate control.

Forest City also has a community app for its residents called Forest Life, which provides a comprehensive range of digital services to enhance the community’s safety and enrich their lives. These services include online medical consultation, e-commerce, butler services, community news, traffic updates, and more.


Another locally-made app called Graaab JagaApp allows residents to use their smartphones to access the property in place of an access card, along with other functions which are similar to the i-Neighbour Smart Community app. The Graab JagaApp is made with a user-friendly interface, catered especially for senior citizens who are not so familiar with smartphones.

Property developers and managers in other countries such as India, have also adopted similar apps such as Society Connect, MyGate and GateKeeper. These apps cover basic security and management functions including panic button, pre-registration of visitors and community notice board. One app, ADT Interactive Security, focuses mainly on security, and allows property owners to remotely control security cameras and alarm systems in their homes.

In Hong Kong, JLL, a global real estate services firm that specialises in commercial property management, has gone high-tech by providing security guards of commercial buildings an easy-to-use app that speeds up reporting while on patrol. Security guards need not carry walkie-talkies to register at their checkpoints. The app enables them to enter key points on their patrol route and the data collected is immediately logged on the control room system.

Guards will be able to log reports via text or photographs to the control room through the app and cleaners or technicians will be able to follow up on any action that needs to be taken. [6]

With the advancement of technology particularly in the area of IOT, it is inevitable that homebuyers’ demand – especially those in the millennial age group -- for intelligent high-tech solutions, including security, will continue to increase. As such, property developers will have to continually improve and grow their high-tech services in order to meet these requirements by the group that makes up the largest number of homebuyers today.

[1] Millennials account for 70% of all new home purchases in 2020 to date
[2]Millennials willing to pay higher rents for smart home features, survey shows
[3] M IOC provides smart safety and security monitoring to UEMS East Ledang Development
[4] S P Setia to include smart home features in upcoming launches
[5]Forest City Shifts Roles
[6]Property Trends: Property management and security at your fingertips