The future of smart buildings

The future of smart buildings

While it may seem like smart buildings are a relatively new concept, the term was actually first coined in 1981. However, it’s only in this century that the term has not only moved into the mainstream, it is now an expected feature of the workplace.

The reason for this rapid change in awareness is perhaps due to the vast technical advances that have taken place in this period, alongside the widely-acknowledged, associated benefits and making a building ‘smart’.

While just a few years ago office workers would simply open a window if they wanted to reduce the temperature, now it is expected to be an automated process; the same is true for lights, doors, lifts and so on.

Indeed, smart buildings appear to be one industry where further innovation and industry growth look to be pretty much guaranteed as data becomes more and more central to decision making.

The focus on employee wellbeing and the environmental impact – which smart building technologies can help address – show no sign of slowing.

Already there are a number of technical enhancements on the horizon that look set to have a positive impact on the world of smart building.

These include:

5G

With the rollout in the UK and other areas of Europe, along with the US, set to follow suit in the coming years, 5G is expected to impact everything from concerts and live events to streaming and communications. Smart buildings can be added to this list too.

5G is the fifth generation of mobile networks and it’s set to be far faster and more reliable, with greater capacity and lower response times, than the previous iterations, 3G and 4G.

It is widely believed that the adoption of 5G will have a significant impact on the connectivity of devices in automated environments, leading to a rapid increase in the number of connected devices and their capabilities. Augmented reality (AR) and or virtual reality (VR) for maintenance is one possible improvement, with 5G offering the speed necessary for this to become a truly useful tool.

5G could also increase the battery life of Internet of Things (IoT) devices making them more feasible to a wider market, including the cost-conscious public sector.

Edge computing

While many of the IoT devices we’ve accepted into our day-to-day lives utilise the Cloud, there is a growing belief that a combination of Cloud and edge computing could actually be more beneficial to smart building scenarios.

Edge computing optimises internet devices and web applications by bringing computing closer to the source of the data, thus minimising the need for long-distance communications between client and server, in turn reducing latency and bandwidth usage. This blended approach can also enhance access to information so that better decisions can be made more quickly, helping businesses to become more agile, while retaining the cost-effectiveness, scalability and flexibility offered by the Cloud.

The Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT)

We have all heard of artificial intelligence, and we’ve all come across the phrase Internet of Things, but the next step on the smart building journey could involve the convergence of these two trends.

This is set to create the ability to collate and analyse ever more data and potentially enable ever more use cases. Importantly, AIoT devices would also see a move away from reliance on the Cloud, but this time the devices themselves would generate data.

Benefits here include relieving pressure on what can be strained networks and reducing the need for data centres and their associated costs.

Of course, investing in AIoT would itself have serious cost implications, but if the history of smart buildings teaches us anything it is that costs come down pretty quickly once a clear business case has been established, so this could be one to keep an eye on.

Above all, both now and in the future, it is important that smart buildings deliver insight that makes buildings more efficient, productive, and comfortable for occupants without becoming so complex that the benefits are lost in a sea of data. The tools are already out there to make this a reality and the savings in terms of time and cost are already significant.

To find out about how the right technology can make your building a better environment for everyone, get in touch today and download the whitepaper.

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