Digital breakthroughs don’t always move quickly when it comes to industry acceptance – especially when those industries are built on an accepted status quo but Tridel Corp.
CIO Ted Maulucci, creator of Canada’s first electronic concierge, was determined to construct a future where “everyone should have the opportunity to live in a home that is connected.” This tenacity has earned Maulucci a spot as the winner of this year’s Canadian CIO of the Year Award as part of ITAC’s Ingenious Awards program.
It was in 2006, at a Realcomm conference on technology, automation, and innovation for the commercial real estate industry that Maulucci first learned about Smart technology. With a career that began on the ground in construction, he had a keen understanding of the industry and knew the impact the technology could have on Tridel buildings. Combined with his passion for developing contemporary spaces where modern-day people would want to live, Maulucci soon developed a vision for creating Smart communities through converged infrastructure.
When approaching investors for support in the research and development of the first stage of his vision – a touch screen with an in-home communication platform, Maulucci communicated this idea:
“If buildings were wired for a shared network at the time of construction, and provided a generous number of access points, those buildings could offer features such as bulk utility services and enhanced security. It would make the prospect of living in a Tridel Smart building very appealing.”
The fight wasn’t easy
But even the prospect of that appeal did not immediately win everyone over and skepticism reigned. Very few investors could see the viability of the innovation and held fast to the status quo they were comfortable with. Looking back on those early days, Maulucci says, “I had to act as an advocate for this technology in an industry that had remained fundamentally the same for decades.”
But critics and skeptics weren’t the only ones surrounding Maulucci and his vision. Support eventually came through both internally at Tridel and externally with IBM being an early, and instrumental, investor in getting the platform into production.
After many trials with supporters like IBM, Bell, Cisco and Rogers, a few purchaser focus groups, and with his team at Tridel, Maulucci introduced Canada’s first electronic concierge. The eConcierge, as it has been branded, enables tenants to automate parking, heating, and security, and delivers cost-effective Internet services through the bulk utility-based Internet strategy. This saves tenants 50 per cent on services and reduces operating expenses for the community by 40 per cent.
Telcos switching models
Maulucci has witnessed the transformational effect of converged infrastructure on the real estate industry and now on the telecommunications industry. With an overwhelming response to Tridel’s Smart buildings, telcos are shifting their strategy from expensive, high-end Internet offerings involving extensive wiring, billing, and individual suite collection, to Maulucci’s more cost-effective, time-efficient bulk model. This allows telcos to offer tenants a commercial-grade network with fast, reliable connections and to reduce cost and management on both consumer and distributor sides.
Maulucci is now assisting the Town of Newmarket and City of Markham in rewriting the development standards for their buildings. He is fostering partnerships with more cities and regions so they too can adopt smart building technology for their municipal offices to modernize and streamline operations. With Maulucci’s tenacity and confidence in building a digital future for Tridel Buildings, one thing is clear – smart buildings are soon going to become the new status quo.