The ability to gather information from a multitude of sources opens up tremendous opportunities
The market for smart buildings has expanded exponentially to greater benefits
including life safety, security, and intelligence

Much like the term “Internet of Things” or “IoT” the concept of “Smart Buildings” brings to mind many different ideas -- from programmable thermostats to touchless faucets to other green-building initiatives, with a focus on environmentally-friendly and energy efficient designs.  While the early days of smart buildings were primarily focused on energy efficiencies, the market for smart buildings has expanded exponentially to greater benefits including life safety, security, and intelligence.

When you factor in that Cisco and other industry leading companies predict that the number of devices connected to the internet will sky rocket to as high as 50 billion objects by 2020, the reach of connected devices is staggering; and the ability to gather information from a multitude of sources suddenly opens up tremendous opportunities.

Smart Building Trends

As “smart” becomes the norm, here are the top three trends that I see taking place:

  • Security-driven analytics to protect against cyber attacks and real-time threats. Until now, security has been typically divided into two categories: physical security and cybersecurity. The rise of big data has increased exponentially over the last few years, allowing risk to be viewed in a more converged manner, leading both sides of the security market toward one common denominator - analytics. The more information that is collected and analyzed from both physical and logical sensors will lead to better security across the board.

  • Optimized tenant experience to increase customer satisfaction, sustainability and energy efficiency. As IoT expands into the consumer market, more and more data will be collected around each individual’s needs, habits, and patterns, including energy usage. This will drive better insights and awareness around lifestyles and sustainability practices.

  • Interconnectivity between building technologies to drive a more efficient and automated approach to building management. This could present itself in multiple ways - from alerting security personnel and occupants of a threat or incident that could potentially impact tenants to notifying the support staff when any of the electrical or building management systems require maintenance. Assets and key systems within every building will ultimately begin to communicate and share data with different IoT applications to run more efficiently and optimize themselves, and do so more in real-time.
The ability to correlate data into actionable intelligence will lead to better operation, maintenance and protection of communities
Data and increased connectivity will enable cities to transform
the way we will live, work, and interact

Role Of Data And Intelligence

With this said, the ability to collect data from various sensors alone isn’t enough to bring about a monumental change. Ensuring that these connected devices, sensors, and subsystems can be integrated seamlessly and utilize the same network infrastructure will be key to moving from smart buildings to smart cities.

It all comes back to data.  Data and increased connectivity will enable cities to transform the way we will live, work, and interact with one another. Within these cities, smart buildings are already being developed - effectively capturing real-time data on what’s happening within the building infrastructure and monitoring real-time activity and traffic in and around the building. The challenge for organizations is to not only gather the data, but to use it as a guide to making more informed decisions, essentially creating actionable intelligence.

The key to actionable intelligence is data correlation.  Smart buildings will need to combine multiple data streams to provide a more holistic evaluation of a building’s environment.  Formally integrating previously disparate functions of physical and IT sensors allows for the correlation of data in a more efficient way by drawing trends and metrics from a digital perspective to increase utilization at a higher and more efficient level.

Smart Buildings Must Take Into Account Data From Multiple Sources

  • Video data: Video cameras monitor key locations and are triggered to other areas based on information from sensors and the data command center.

  • Identity and access data: Monitors access points – whether physical or digital – through the use of ID management access control and alarm systems.

  • Sensor data: Multiple sensors from different locations provide a more complete picture of any active situation.

  • GPS and geospatial data: Through the use of sensors, smart buildings will be able to draw 2D/3D maps of situations in order to make smarter, faster decisions.

  • Social media data: Proactively and reactively monitoring social media, weather, news and other open source data feeds to provide real-time information.

These capabilities, combined with other features, can be leveraged to gain valuable, real-time situational awareness by correlating internal conditions with external information. 

Smart building technologies, which had traditionally been focused on energy efficiency, are now also being applied to many different sectors. Smart City initiatives are starting to harness these smart technologies to benefit cities and communities at a much larger scale. As more cities integrate smart technology into their infrastructures and create real-world IoT applications, the ability to correlate data into actionable intelligence will lead to better operation, maintenance and protection of their communities and better service for their citizens.

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James Chong Founder and CEO, Vidsys

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