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Smart meters have sparked great amounts of controversy among residents who are concerned about their health and the privacy of their energy usage. Despite much debate, the Recovery Act will work to place smart meters in 40 million homes by the year 2015 in hopes of increasing energy efficiency in the United States.

Many residents living in units with installed smart meters are afraid of potential health risks caused by radio frequencies. The World Health Organization has determined that residents would need to live near an installed smart meter for over a thousand years to gain the same exposure to radio frequencies that one receives from a typical cell phone in just one month.  However, many residents living with smart meters continue to complain about insomnia, muscle spasms, and dizziness, which have prompted additional health studies.

Residents are also expressing concerns about the privacy of smart meters, fearing that their personal information might not be protected by smart meter companies. A study by the Ponemon Institute has concluded that residents would feel more secure about their privacy if their smart meter data was “de-identified”, similar to the way in which personal health records are often handled.  In order to receive greater support from residents, it will be vital that third party companies to develop changes in their data management systems to combat these privacy concerns.

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Social media websites have become a popular way for multifamily properties to attract and retain residents. Unfortunately, common myths associated with social media keep many properties from using these websites to their fullest potential.

It’s first important to consider that social media is no longer dominated solely by teenagers and young adults. In fact, recent studies show that the 50+ age range is one of most rapidly growing age groups accepting social media today. Since tenants of all ages are logging on to these sites daily, creating interactive accounts such as Facebook fan pages, Twitter feeds, or Linked In profiles can allow residents to conveniently receive updates from your property whenever they log into these websites, which is frequently. Techcrunch.com states that 175 million people log into Facebook alone each day and that the average Facebook user is connected to 80 community pages and groups.

According to Multifamily Executive, social media should not just be viewed as a way to attract tenants. Social media sites can also help to protect your organization’s brand. By interacting with residents and learning exactly what they think about your organization, it’s possible to understand more about improvements that need to be made based on their suggestions. The ability to comment on posts and direct message residents in response to their concerns helps take customer service to the next level.

Social media websites can also be a useful tool for educating residents about any property changes. For example, if a multifamily property decides to submeter their utilities, many residents might not understand the submetering process or how it will affect them. Posting twitter updates, Facebook status updates, or blog posts are a convenient way to help residents better understand the changes they will experience. Since social media is most effective when used consistently, posting daily conservation tips or water rate information periodically can help to keep residents satisfied living in a submetered unit.

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