Property sector in search of a better user experience

A research project has just been initiated to address a theme that is very much of our time: the well-being of building occupants has finally drawn the attention of parties in the property sector.

The Virtual Service Environment-D project (known as Virpa-D after its name in Finnish) will be run jointly by universities and businesses with the aim of creating a world-class user experience to enhance the work productivity, everyday convenience and well-being of occupants of commercial premises.

The companies and universities involved in the project constitute an ecosystem that develops new, scalable user services. Granlund is also contributing its strong engineering expertise and efforts to the project, and it was also actively involved in the prior phases of the project.

”We were also involved in the Virpa-C project, which focused on digital maintenance services. We have studied methods for collecting data on the functionality and occupancy rate of properties, developed new methods for analytics and visualisation, and tested augmented reality technologies,” says Heikki Ihasalo, Senior Consultant at Granlund.

Under the Virpa D project, new user-oriented services will be developed for international markets. The solutions will revolve around improving the user experience. A good user experience creates added value, promotes commitment to the company and generates business benefits. The Virpa-D project is expected to generate EUR 740 million in new turnover, EUR 342 million in new exports, and 1,569 new jobs.

The project will also involve studies related to future requirements for user services, user experience design, business models, data collection and analytics, and digital platform architecture.

”Ecosystems are a contemporary – and also future – operating method where different parties combine their expertise to create an entity that advances the sector as a whole. In the property sectors, innovations and new ideas often go unnoticed. These projects will also enable us to form the smart cities of tomorrow,” says Jarmo Lehto, the coordinator of the ecosystem.

Ihasalo says that working together benefits everyone. ”The Virpa projects involve numerous interesting parties who have taught us about new technologies and digital business models. The project has also enabled new solutions to be piloted jointly with other organisations. We will put this expertise to use in the future when we develop our software and services.”

The Virpa projects have generated tangible benefits for Granlund and its customers, such as methods for collecting metering data from the technical systems in buildings, new methods for data analytics and visualisation, and experience with the opportunities offered by augmented reality.

”It is great that Virpa is continuing. Under Virpa-D, we will shift our perspective to the users of premises. The theme is very much a current concern, as the well-being of building occupants has become a more prominent topic in recent times. Virpa-D involves new parties, and I am looking forward to finding out more about their solutions.

”The Virpa-D project entity is part of Business Finland’s Feelings programme, which finances high-level research into subjects such as feelings, new technologies and digital customer experiences,” says Sanna Piiroinen, the Programme Manager.

Further information

Senior Advisor
Heikki Ihasalo, Granlund Oy
Tel: +358 40 820 9623

Project coordinator
Jarmo Lehto, CEO, Jalecon Oy
Tel: +358 40 833 1131  

The project in short

The Digital User Services in Real Estate Business (Virpa-D) project is a part of the Virpa project entity, which focuses on the ongoing development projects within the real estate business, and on development projects that connect various sectors closely connected to the field. The Virpa-D project develops new services and solutions for the real estate and premises sector. The project is based on four mini-ecosystems that produce new integrated services that ease the everyday life of the user. The projects are divided into four themes: welfare, the restaurant world, data-led user services, and emphatic building.

The project is formed by Granlund Oy, Helvar Oy, Lassila & Tikanoja Oyj, M-Brain Insight Oy, Newsec Asset Management Oy, Sodexo Oy, Suomen Yliopistokiinteistöt Oy, Tieto Finland Oy, Valossa Labs Oy and the Oulu University premises services and data management. The development and research work within the project is also supported by the University of Oulu, the Tampere University of Technology, the University of Tampere and the University of Turku. Jalecon Oy performs the project’s preliminary work and coordination. The project is financed by Business Finland and the participating companies and research institutes.