Jarrod Easterwood, Director of Marketing & Partner Relations, AVUITY

AVUITY equips organizations with custom tools and software to give them access to meaningful data on how to enhance their spaces and save money.

Cincinnati Future spoke with Jarrod Easterwood, AVUITY’s director of marketing & partner relations about the company’s beginning and what its tech does to help companies manage their real estate footprints.

Tell us about the origin of AVUITY.

Easterwood: AVUITY was developed out of BHDP, an architecture and design firm based in Cincinnati. A company can tell an A&D firm what they think is happening in their office and how they can change their office space for the better. However, it’s a lot easier when you’ve got actual data to back it up.

Brad Johnson, who was leading the IT group at the BHDP, spun out his own company. We started developing occupancy sensors to look at how many people were actually using meeting rooms; how many people were coming into the office each day; and so on. All of that information that was historically difficult to capture, but we had hardware that could measure that information day in and day out.

What kind of data do you gather for companies?

Easterwood: One example is how many people are using the meeting rooms. You can use Outlook’s calendar app to book a space, but our product is more informed. If someone is booking a space, then are they actually showing up? If it’s a 10-person conference room, are there ever 10 people in there? It has moved beyond just passively gathering data about how many folks are using spaces to more of how can that data inform the day-to-day decisions of your everyday employees.

If you find out no one is using a conference room, then that data can help a company make design changes, correct?

Easterwood: Exactly. When we partner with a BHDP-type firm, a real estate group or the corporate facilities group at a client site, we can say, ‘hey, you guys are building a new headquarters. Let’s see if we can figure out how many conference rooms you actually need or how big those conference rooms should be. We can deliver those analytics to them — our software informs their design decisions going forward.

It informs leasing decisions as well. Some of our clients may not need 100,000 square feet on a floor, and so we show them how they can move that around or better allocate [the space] because the data is showing that folks aren’t coming in.

How does the technology work?

Easterwood: The data is typically gathered via a ceiling mounted sensor. A lot of other sensor manufacturers out there will use one sensor per seat, but our sensor can gather a measurement of a very large area with just one piece of hardware. The sensor uses passive infrared in addition to actual machine learning. There is an artificial intelligence (AI) component that understands what human beings look like. This means that it won’t know what a specific individual is in a space but will instead say ‘there are three human beings in this room.’ That data is pushed to our software platform. The data may show that there are three human beings in the room, but the room actually seats five people. So that translates to 60% utilization for this hour.

What are the geographical locations of the companies you serve?

Easterwood: We have a number of clients who are located in the Southeast, but we hit everywhere from the New England area all the way to the West Coast. We also have a number of installations in Canada and Europe.

How did COVID affect your business?

Easterwood: Initially, a lot of our clients put everything on hold. But now that we’re on the backside of the pandemic and companies are considering their back-to-work policies, there is an increased interest in analyzing the real estate footprint. Everyone’s considering a distributed workforce, and they need the data to make decisions.

What are the advantages of being located in Cincinnati?

Easterwood: Cincinnati has been awesome. Companies here are very approachable. A lot of the businesses headquartered here are medium- to large-sized, which is the perfect size to try a platform like ours. Those companies are nimble enough to try something new but also large enough to reap the benefits of really understanding their corporate real estate. They can save millions of dollars every year on their multiple offices. Cincinnati has a lot of businesses just like that.