Nishant Kukreti stays in a student hostel in Noida and he is surprised that good behaviour is tracked using technology and rewarded. “A couple of students in the facility were rewarded with online gift vouchers because they had high ratings. Though I didn’t get one, it seemed like a nice incentive,” says Kukreti, a final year B Com student at Amity University living in a Noida facility of student housing company Placio.
Placio brings social incentive that is used by ride-hailing firms such as Uber and Ola to hostels. The tech platform doesn’t just rank hostel staff based on their service, it also rates students. They are ranked based on how their behaviour in the facility is, general cleanliness, polite behaviour with the facility managers and punctuality — all of which is tracked digitally in the system
Student housing companies are investing in technology to be markedly different from traditional university-led hostel systems. Some of these include facial recognition security systems, RFID-enabled libraries and canteens and attendance systems that both students and parents access on their smartphones. For students, this has meant that they live in a professionally-tended environment tracked by technology, without the traditional warden-student dynamic at play.
Most companies in the space, like OxfordCaps, Stanza Living and Placio have standardised their attendance systems with a professional escalation matrix. “We have cameras as well as biometric security systems where in and out times are recorded. They have a threshold as well. Parents and guardians are connected to this and if the student is not in by a certain hour, the parent gets a notification,” said Annu Talreja, CEO, OxfordCaps.
Although student housing as a market is dominated by universityled facilities, it will see growth from private companies entering the space to plug demand gaps. Real estate consultant JLL estimates the space to see a 38% CAGR amounting to Rs 2,400 crore by 2020.
Oxfordcaps has also made IoT installations in one of its facilities to monitor energy and space consumption, specifically gyms, reading lounges and TV rooms – all of which provide vanity but whose usage remains untracked. “We also monitor footfalls in cafeterias at peak hours — how many shifts in which people come in and what should be the ideal size of a cafeteria. These kinds of ratios don’t exist in India — we are using built-in technology like cameras and sensors to track and create this data,” said Talreja.
Food wastage is an area where Sequoia-backed Stanza Living has been able to use technology to reduce operational costs said cofounder Anindya Dutta.