The way we live changes constantly as technology evolves. Increasing demand for connectivity is commonplace as more consumers access more devices, and this is only set to grow as the world around us becomes more intelligent.
So what is a smart building today, and how is connected technology set to transform everyday environments?
Within the structure of a modern building lies a complex technological mix. The result of technological evolution, each component; from lighting to heating has traditionally been singularly installed and independently operated.
But smart buildings today are increasing in technological intelligence to match our demands. It is not enough for buildings to contain systems providing occupants with heat, light and safety and comfort. They must be able to integrate all aspects to provide an optimally functional, cost-effective and dynamic environment.
At a basic level, this is what smart buildings do. They are designed to use information technology to connect and deliver useful building services (illumination, thermal comfort, air quality, sanitation etc) at the lowest cost and impact across a building’s lifetime.
Achieving this requires consideration from the building’s design up to the end of its life, but allows for total performance optimisation, and manageable visibility for building managers and occupants. For example, in an intelligent non-domestic building it would be possible to use the data from the building security system to turn off lighting and minimise heating or air conditioning during hours that the building is empty.
Looking more in depth, what does ‘smart’ or ‘intelligent’ actually mean? How do intelligent buildings actually integrate today?
‘Smart’; is a word used to describe a device or system which operates via a microprocessor and has programming to complete pre-set actions or operations. Smart systems can communicate with external systems via some form of data network.
‘Intelligent’ systems on the other hand have supervisory software allowing collaboration and coordination between smart devices; implying the ability to automatically respond and adjust interactions between smart items for best optimisation.
As technology advances, competition is a key factor driving the advancement of intelligent systems and smart buildings today. To draw occupants, building design must meet the technological expectations of a smartphone generation who want to be able to control and optimise HVAC, lighting and other amenities from WiFi enabled apps. As the Internet of Things (IoT) evolves, technological expectancy from a buildings’ tenants is only going to increase.
Describing the connection between ordinary objects and the Internet, the ‘Internet of Things’ offers incredible potential for smart buildings today. As this article from SAP describes, as capability and technology improves, IoT contains the potential to reshape the way we interact with the world around us.
With IoT, any point within a building could be used to send or receive data and inform other objects and systems in the vicinity. As technology evolves, this holds the potential to take smart buildings from the basics of building management, to complete building automation; transforming our environments.
We are already experiencing rapid advancement in data transmission and processing speeds, and can store more information than ever before in the cloud. When these advances are combined with improved data analysis we will be able make that information actionable, and transform the way we consider, manage and interact with our environments.
Technology still has a long way to go before becoming fully connected, automated buildings with cooperative devices and standards are an everyday occurrence. However through the use of IoT, we have limitless and exciting potential for the future of building management, from reduced operating costs to efficient energy usage.