As companies consider how they can safely bring employees back to offices, mobile apps that can monitor worker movements — and thus ensure they’re abiding by Covid-19 safety protocols — are growing in popularity.
One such app, Rise Buildings, is set to be acquired by New York startup VTS for around $100 million, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the transaction. Rise is a Chicago-based startup that has a mobile app used in approximately 350 buildings totaling over 130 million square feet of office space.
Its CEO, Prasan Kale, said that individual data is also kept anonymous, and that employees can opt out of using it.
A similar app, Toronto-based Lane, is used in more than 300 buildings in eight countries. It launched its first funding round in May, which raised $10 million. The company says that it’s now being used by big office landlords, including Brookfield Office Properties, Oxford Properties and Tishman Studio.
Employers can use these apps to see if a conference room is too crowded or to see how many people are sitting in a particular space, according to the report. They can also be used to report issues to building management.
For landlords, the apps provide an opportunity to see how tenants are using their buildings, including anticipating which ones may be bringing in additional employees or scaling down.
Nick Romito, the CEO of VTS, told the publication that his firm has been watching the nascent office app category since before the pandemic, and now sees it as an asset for landlords.
“In the return-to-work every owner has to make sure their tenants know what’s going on,” he said.
[WSJ] — Keith Larsen