The inaugural Built Environment Technology Alliance [BETA] event held in the Bay Area on August 28th 2019 was a success. The Pop-up event centered around participant engagement in knowledge sharing to progress industry technological advancements for the benefit of the CRE industry. The goal of the event was to host an interactive discussion between CRE’s,  FM’s and industry experts rather than  traditional events structured around  sales pitches and demonstrations.

The half day collaboration kicked off with an informal [and very well catered] networking lunch. This format enabled long time acquaintances to re-connect and others to make new connections.

The program began with introductions from Darrel Smith, Director of Technical Services and Strategy with Google, the venue host. This was followed by an introduction from Martin Woodrow. Executive Managing Director with Cushman & Wakefield and BETA’s first sustaining sponsor.

The topic of AI was anchored by a brief keynote, presented by L.D. Salmanson, CEO of cherre. Mr. Salmanson set the digital stage by covering the fundamentals of why AI is worth the time to invest in. Furthermore, he clearly outlined a simple “how to” on the four things needed to develop AI for a specific use case.


  • It All Starts with the Data

  • Collect Everything

  • Connect Everything

  • Tag Everything


He closed out his presentation with identifying low hanging fruit for us to consider that AI could immediately help the industry with.

  • NLP of Documents (mortgage rates or lease terms)
  • Image Classification (Categories Risk review, features, violations)
  • Behavioral Data (likelihood to buy or sell, when, and at what cost)
  • Valuations and Comparables (transaction price and terms)
  • Building Automation (reduce energy costs, maximize space)
  • Facility Management (predict AC failure, reduce staff)
  • Security (predict irregular building access or data usage)

Less than thirty minutes into the schedule time Ted Ritter, Global Chair of the Technology Community of IFMA and Co-Founder of DrawAlert began facilitating the crosstalk between more than fifty attendees.

As stated, the concept of the BETA Pop Up format was quite different than typical events in that the goal was to engage senior CRE and FM leaders with senior technology developers and product managers to openly discuss how a specific technology’s future state would impact the marketplace.

In other words, the audience were the main players in the event. The subsequent ninety minutes flew by with a very interactive and collaborative conversation. There were seven (eight?)pre-set questions prepared [see below] and based on the articulate interaction, only the first three had airtime.

  1. Where is your organization today with the use of AI?
  1. What are the best opportunities for the future?
  1. What are your concerns?
  1. What do you think about chat bots? Is anyone using them in their FM or CRE customer facing systems today?
  1. Why are we comfortable putting a plane on full autopilot and not our buildings? Cost? Current generation planes typically have 2 or 3 redundant systems for just about everything. Do we have any types of facilities where this is worth the investment?
  1. What about AI as it relates to Big Data & Analytics?
  2. Who would like to share? What else?
  3. What about Virtual Digital Assistants – Virtual Receptionists?

Prior to post event networking hosted on the lawn, a brief video was shared of the first life-size social robot, Sofia, addressing the United Nations. Following the video the participants were asked:

Would you “hire” Sophia?

Why? Why not?

The follow-on conversation was heated with the audience roughly evenly split on whether they, or in their opinions, their organizations were ready for that level of tomorrow. The active participation of such a senior group of leaders from CRE, FM and Technology Organizations clearly demonstrated that there is a need for BETA in the marketplace.

The mission of BETA is to help innovators across technology and the built environment come together to design what tomorrow will look like for the places we live, work and play.

To learn more about BETA or support the future of technology for CRE and FM please visit